A critical program that collaborates with former inmates to prevent their reincarceration is set to close after its budget was drastically reduced by the Glasgow City Council.

Dick Stewart Service, a revered organization that assists men imprisoned for violent crimes in their reintegration into society post-incarceration, has been recognized as “sector-leading”. It was lauded in a renowned report last year for its impactful work.

However, due to budgetary cuts made by the city council in December, the program, which is operated by the Church of Scotland’s CrossReach team, has failed to provide housing to former prisoners.

If the program does not receive additional funding, it will cease to grant home leave to inmates by the end of this month.

An informant from within the service reports that its finances were severely depleted by the Glasgow City Council on December 22 last year, only days after the Scottish Government’s budget announcement, a significant element of which was a council tax freeze.

The Glasgow City Council defended its decision of not granting additional funds to Dick Stewart Service, stating it had “chosen not to retender for a residential service for men”. The council cited the reason as the relatively low number of men aided by the existing service within a year and its aspiration to maintain a community tenancy support model capable of assisting a larger population of men and women.

The impending closure of the Dick Stewart Service has raised genuine concerns over the possibility of prisons overcrowding and public safety, as it may lead to an increase in repeat offenses.

A representative from the service expressed alarm at the lack of proper systems to support these individuals, leading to the risk of reoffending and potential homelessness. Their reoffending crimes, if they do occur, could be of a severe nature, posing a threat to public safety.

The source further revealed contentious allegations that “Glasgow City Council attributed the Scottish Government for the funding cuts”, however, the local authority denies these claims.

Thomas Steel, a former service user, expressed his gratefulness for the service, saying, “If I didn’t have the service I feel I would have possibly failed. If you’ve got something like this it propels you to get on with your life.”

Another user credited Dick Stewart Service for the profound influence it had in helping him readjust and reintegrate into society after spending 10 years in prison and hospital. The service acted as a springboard for him to get the support he required and to flourish.

Pauline McNeill, a Glasgow Labour MSP, remarked, “It would be extremely disappointing if the Dick Stewart service were to close due to budget cuts. The service has a proven record of helping offenders develop the skills necessary for a life free from crime.”

She went on to say, “Closing a service that greatly assists in reducing reoffending rates is an indication of a Scottish Government failing in every aspect of our justice system.”

A spokesperson for Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership said, “We recently issued a new justice social work commissioned tender for the provision of community justice services.”

After contemplating, they decided not to retender for a residential service for men. The spokesperson stated that this was due to the insufficient number of men benefitted by the existing service in a calendar year and their aspirations to retain a community tenancy support model equipped to support a larger population of men and women.

The spokesperson disclosed, “We also have to make decisions based on the budget available to us and the requirement to issue a tender that represents value for money.”