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Revolving Doors Group

Multiple problems or needs

Women and men in the revolving doors group have multiple problems (often referred to as “multiple needs”) including poor mental health, and are in repeat contact with the criminal justice system. On their own each of their needs is usually not severe enough to meet the threshold for statutory services. So, while poor mental health is a core or exacerbating factor, this is usually not considered severe enough to warrant care from statutory mental health services.

 Other common problems include:

  • poor housing or homelessness
  • drug and/or alcohol misuse
  • physical health problems
  • mild to moderate learning difficulties
  • poor educational achievement
  • institutionalisation
  • poverty and debt
  • weak or difficult relationships with family.


For many the root causes of these problems can be located in childhood experiences of abuse, trauma or neglect.  Problems can be passed down the generations with children whose parents have multiple problems being at high risk.  Some people end up with diagnoses of personality disorder and issues such as self harm are common. Family problems include domestic violence and children being taken into care. Women in the group may be involved in street sex working linked to their drug use.

Understanding the dynamic

The combined impact of the problems people in our group face is often greater than the sum of the parts.  Each problem feeds into and exacerbates another, for example: losing a job leads to losing a relationship and a home; deteriorating mental health leads to misuse of alcohol; debt leads to depression; and isolation leads to solace in drugs.  This all creates a negative dynamic or a downward spiral that brings people into contact with the criminal justice system.


This downward spiral could happen to any of us.  We probably all know someone whose life might have unravelled but for the enduring support of family or friends. But many who end up in trouble do not have this network of support. Nearly a third of people in prison spent their childhoods in care, compared to 2% of the general population.