Constituents sometimes express concerns about nearby properties they think might be housing ex-offenders. This note gives background on the Bail Accommodation and Support Service, which houses people on bail and released early from prison in the community.

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What is BASS?

The Labour Government introduced the Bail and Accommodation Service (BASS) in England and Wales in 2007.  This is a scheme to accommodate people on bail and on Home Detention Curfew.  They are adults who need a suitable address, or some support, so that they can be released.  Certain people are not eligible; 

  • those convicted/charged with a sexual offence listed in Schedule 3 to the Sexual Offences Act 2003;
  • those who pose a significant risk to the public, to BASS staff or to others in a shared house;
  • those under 18 years of age; or
  • those unable to pay rent or claim housing benefit

Why does the Government use the scheme?

The Government’s aim in having this scheme is to reduce offending, use resources efficiently and free up prison places.  The service, it argues, provides a cost effective alternative to custody or custodial remand for people who would be living in the community anyway if they had alternative accommodation.

Who runs BASS?

At first a company called ClearSprings had the contract for BASS.  Since 2010 Stonham, a social housing provider, has run the service. It provides around 650 bed spaces in the community in small houses or flats – typically with two or three people sharing.

BASS accommodation is not the same as “probation hostels”, known officially as “approved premises”.  Approved premises are much larger and provide intensive supervision for higher risk offenders.

Where are these properties?

There was controversy at the beginning of the scheme, not least because of the very limited information about the location of properties being used. The Ministry of Justice does not provide information about the private addresses of those on bail or who have been released on Home Detention Curfew. 

Are local residents consulted?

Stonham does not have to consult local residents before using a property under BASS.  It does, however, consult police, local authorities and probation providers.  It also informs immediate neighbours and provides contact details.  As these are normal residential properties being used for this purpose, there is no need for planning permission.

Further information

There is further information on Stonham’s BASS website, and FAQs and contact details for people with concerns on a separate BASS website.

Policy information is in a National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Service Specification Document and NOMS Probation Instruction, Accommodation and Support Service for Bail and HDC.

This Briefing Paper covers England and Wales only.

  • Commons Research Briefing SN05774
  • Author: Pat Strickland
  • Topics: Justice, Prisons

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