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Breaking the Cycle Evidence Briefing

Please note that The Robertson Trust has published its new Giving Strategy. This sets out the priorities we will have when awarding funds through our open grants programme. The existing application form and guidelines can still be used until July 31st. In line with our existing procedures, we will aim to assess and present all applications received by this date to our September Board meeting. In the event that we are unable to do so, your application may be held until our November meeting. In such cases a member of staff will contact you and provide any assistance required to realign your application with the new Giving Strategy. Find out all you need to know here.

Breaking the Cycle is a £1M programme funded by The Robertson Trust and Serco. Targeted at offenders who receive short term sentences and consequently are not eligible to receive statutory throughcare support, the programme funds and evaluates different approaches to supporting these offenders to make the transition between custody and the community. Launched in 2008, Breaking the Cycle has supported the development of five projects across Scotland. This briefing identifies the key learning from these projects to date.

Emerging themes from the programme include:

  • The third sector plays a significant role in delivering throughcare services for short term prisoners;
  • High quality throughcare services which engage with offenders at the point of custody and continue to work with them after their release from prison are most likely to be effective;
  • Services should match an offender with a designated worker who can build a relationship of trust with the offender and act as a consistent point of contact through their time in prison and on release;
  • It takes time to embed new services in prisons and to build relationships with prison staff and other agencies;
  • To maximise the likelihood of offenders engaging with these services, all partners involved with the service should have a shared understanding of its aims and objectives and an agreed process for how it will be delivered;
  • Multi-agency planning and in particular involvement of universal services such as housing and health make a difference to the well-being of an individual on release;
  • Offenders will choose to engage with throughcare services if they value them;
  • There are gaps in the services currently available to short term offenders across Scotland. 


The full briefing is available to read here.