PRISONERS vulnerable to addiction who have finished their sentences will no longer be released on Fridays at HMP Portland under new plans to cut reoffending and make streets safer.

The decision from the Government this week comes as part of sweeping reforms to cut crime and protect the public.

Bournemouth Echo: Jo Farrar, chief executive of HM Prison & Probation ServiceJo Farrar, chief executive of HM Prison & Probation Service

It will allow extra time for vulnerable offenders, such as those with addiction, mental health issues or homelessness, who are at risk of reoffending to get health, housing and job support before the weekend - when many services are shut.

Following this, Jo Farrar, chief executive of HM Prison & Probation Service, has written a letter about how this will support staff at HMP Portland.

She said: "Since I took on this role three years ago, I have visited many prisons and met hundreds of prison officers.

"I have seen first-hand the commitment and enthusiasm shown by staff and the great team spirit.

"Being a prison officer can be tough but it’s also very rewarding and there are lots of opportunities for training or progression.

"Whether you want to become a manager, specialise in working with vulnerable prisoners or train as a physical education instructor or dog handler."

Figures show that around one in three offenders currently leave prison on a Friday – giving them just a few short hours to arrange a bed for the night, register with a GP and sign-up for job support to keep them on the straight and narrow before services shut down for the weekend.

This race against the clock can end up with ex-offenders spending their first days on the streets with little in the way of support – increasing the likelihood they will commit further crimes.

A spokesman from HMP Portland, said: "This is great news and will further support our prison staff across the country, including at HMP Portland, who work tirelessly every day to guide offenders towards a fresh start on the outside."

As part of a package of prison reforms announced on Tuesday, which also includes a £25 million investment in security measures, the release of selected offenders at the Portland prison will be brought forward by up to 48 hours to stop them lapsing immediately back towards a life of crime.

The cash will also be used to increase the number of special machines that can detect microscopic smears of illegal substances such as spice on prisoners’ mail, stopping dangerous drugs from getting onto wings and wreaking havoc.