Skip to main content Accessibility help

Imaginary Homelessness Prevention with Prison Leavers in Wales


In this article we engage in a critical examination of how local authority Housing Solutions staff, newly placed centre stage in preventing homelessness amongst prison leavers in Wales, understand and go about their work. Drawing on Carlen’s concept of ‘imaginary penalities’ and Ugelvik’s notion of ‘legitimation work’ we suggest practice with this group can be ritualistic and underpinned by a focus on prison leavers’ responsibilities over their rights, and public protection over promoting resettlement. In response we advocate for less-punitive justice and housing policies, underpinned by the right to permanent housing for all prison leavers and wherein stable accommodation is understood as the starting point for resettlement. The analysis presented in this article provides insights to how homelessness policies could play out in jurisdictions where more joint working between housing and criminal justice agencies are being pursued and/or preventative approaches to managing homelessness are being considered.



Hide All
Ahmed, A. and Madoc-Jones, I. (2019) ‘Introduction: homelessness prevention in an international policy context’, Social Policy and Society, doi: 10.1017/S1474746419000393.
Alden, S. (2015) ‘On the frontline: the gatekeeper in statutory homelessness services’, Housing Studies, 30, 6, 118.
Bibbings, J. (2012) Policy Briefing: Homeless Ex-offenders in Wales, 2010/11, Shelter Cymru, [accessed 01.08.2019].
Bourdieu, P. (1991) Language and Symbolic Power, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Canton, R. (2010) ‘Taking probation abroad’, European Journal of Probation, 1, 1, 6678.
Carlen, P. (2013) Imaginary Penalities, London: Routledge.
Clinks Briefing (2017) Are the Accommodation Needs Being Met for People in Contact With the Criminal Justice System?, [accessed 05.04.2019].
Connell, A., Martin, S. and Denny, E. (2017) ‘How can subnational governments deliver their policy objectives in the age of austerity? Reshaping homelessness policy in Wales’, Political Quarterly, 88, 3, 443–51.
Cooper, V. (2013) ‘No fixed abode: the continuum of policing and incarcerating the homeless’, Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 11, 1, 2938.
Cooper, V. (2016) ‘It’s all considered to be ‘unacceptable behaviour’: criminal justice practitioners’ experience of statutory housing duty for (ex) offenders’, Probation Journal, 63, 4, 433–45.
Cowan, D., Pantazis, C. and Gilroy, R. (2001) ‘Social housing as crime control: an examination of the role of housing management in policing sex offenders’, Social and Legal Studies, 10, 4, 435–57.
Crawford, A. (2003) ‘Contractual governance of deviant behaviour’, Journal of Law and Society, 30, 4, 479505.
Dwyer, P., Bowpitt, G., Sundin, E. and Weinstein, M. (2014) ‘Rights, responsibilities and refusals: Homelessness policy and the exclusion of single homeless people with complex needs’, Critical Social Policy, 35, 1, 121.
Feeley, M. and Simon, J. (1994) ‘Actuarial justice: the emerging new criminal law’, in Nelken, D. (ed.), The Futures of Criminology, London: Sage.
Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wilcox, S. and Watts, B. (2016) The Homeless Monitor: England 2016, [accessed 09.09.2019].
Flint, J. and Nixon, J. (2006) ‘Governing neighbours: anti-social behaviour orders and new forms of regulating conduct in the UK’, Urban Studies, 43, 5-6, 939–55.
Garland, D. (1997) ‘Governmentality’ and the problem of crime’, Theoretical Criminology, 1, 2, 173214.
Gojkovic, D., Mills, A. and Meek, R. (2012) Accommodation for Ex-offenders: Third Sector Housing Advice and Provision. Third Sector Research Centre, [accessed 09.09.2019].
Grierson, J. (2019) ‘Abolish prison terms of under a year to ease safety crisis say MPs’, The Guardian, 3 April.
Harvie, P. and Manzi, T. (2011) ‘Interpreting multi-agency partnerships: ideology, discourse and domestic violence’, Social and Legal Studies, 20, 1, 7995.
House of Commons (2017) UK Prison Population Statistics 20 April 2017, London: House of Commons.
Humphreys, C. and Sterling, T. (2008) ‘Necessary but not Sufficient: Housing and the reduction of re-offending. Welsh Local Government Association’, Cardiff; Welsh local Government Association.
Kemshall, H. and Maguire, M. (2001) ‘Public protection, partnership and risk penality: the multi-agency risk management of sexual and violent offenders’, Punishment and Society, 3, 2, 237–64.
Lidstone, P. (1994) ‘Rationing housing to the homeless applicant’, Housing Studies, 9, 4, 459–72.
Mackie, P. (2008) This Time Round: Exploring the Effectiveness of Current Interventions in the Housing of Homeless Prisoners Released to Wales’, Swansea: Shelter Cymru.
Madoc-Jones, I., Gorden, C., Hughes, C., Dubberley, S. and Washington-Dyer, K. (2019) ‘Rethinking homelessness amongst prison leavers’, European Journal of Probation, 10, 3, 215–31.
Madoc-Jones, I., Hughes, C., Dubberley, S., Gorden, C., Washington-Dyer, K., Wilson, F., Ahmed, A., Lockwood, K. and Wilding, M. (2018) Evaluation of Homelessness Services to Adults in the Secure Estate (Wales) Final Report, Cardiff: Welsh Assembly Government.
Maguire, M. and Raynor, P. (2006) ‘How the resettlement of prisoners promotes desistance from crime: or does it?’, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 6, 1, 1938.
Ministry of Justice (2012) Accommodation, Homelessness and Reoffending of Prisoners: Results from the Surveying Prisoner Crime Reduction (SPCR) Survey, London: Ministry of Justice.
Ministry of Justice (2019) Published Response to Revolving Door Agency (2019) FOI 180915001, [accessed 10.06.2019].
Nash, M. and Walker, L. (2009) ‘Mappa – is closer collaboration really the key to effectiveness?Policing, 3, 2, 172–80.
National Audit Office (2017) Homelessness, London: National Audit Office [accessed 19.12.2019].
Sibley, D. (1995) Geographies of Exclusion, London: Routledge.
Simon, J. (2007) Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Social Exclusion Unit (2002) Reducing Reoffending by Ex-Prisoners, London: Social Exclusion Unit.
Stephens, M. and Stephenson, A. (2016) ‘Housing policy in the austerity age and beyond’, in Fenger, M., Hudson, J. and Needham, C. (eds.), Social Policy Review: Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, Bristol: Policy Press, 6385.
Ugelvik, T. (2016) ‘Techniques of legitimation: the narrative construction of legitimacy among immigration detention officers’, Crime, Media, Culture, 1, 2, 215–32.
Wakefield, A. (2003) Selling Security: The Private Policing of Public Space, Cullompton: Wilan.
Welsh Government (2015) The National Pathway for Providing Services to Children, Young People and Adults in the Secure Estate, Cardiff: Welsh Government.
Welsh Government (2017) National Rough Sleeper Count November 2016-Experimental Statistics, Cardiff: Welsh Government [accessed 02.03.2019].
White, A. (2013) ‘The shadow state: probation chiefs voice doubts about outsourcing’, New Statesman, 7 January.


Imaginary Homelessness Prevention with Prison Leavers in Wales


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed