You are here: What we know

Man leaning against a wall

What we know

Last year over 1,000 people who have experienced The Revolving Door have shared their experiences with us. The result is a uniquely insightful picture of the group so often failed by our public services.

Finding New Solutions

At The Revolving Doors Agency we are dedicated to finding new solutions for a group who have multiple and complex problems. All our interviews, research and data analysis are dedicated to growing our practical knowledge in this field.

The body of robust evidence we have amassed since 1993 is a powerful resource for driving change, not just for our team but also to inform the thinking of our public service providers, policymakers, public sector managers and academic researchers.

Understanding the complexity of The Revolving Door numbers

Even measuring its scale is problematic. For example we know that 60,000 or more individuals in England are currently affected by three particular problems simultaneously – offending, substance misuse and homelessness.

However, this particular mix of multiple Revolving Door challenges is normally associated with men. Because women are generally less likely to be homeless, they do not usually present with the same recognised three-factor mix that in the past has identified individuals as part of the Revolving Door group.

In reality, women are just as likely to be trapped in The Revolving Door, but by a different set of multiple complex problems.

To avoid the high risk of homelessness and sleeping rough, women will endure other circumstances such as living with a violent partner or becoming a sex worker in return for accommodation. Even women with children who have local authority accommodation can find themselves in those same circumstances.

So, while these women are not homeless, they can still present with multiple complex problems including offending, substance misuse, domestic abuse and mental ill-health.

For this reason, part of our on-going work is to consider other mixes of multiple factors that can also define individuals in The Revolving Door group.

This brings its own challenges. At present, for example, provider systems are not designed to map mental ill-health over the currently recognised factors of offending, substance misuse and homelessness. As well as gender variations, are there other variations we should take into account such as racial background and sexuality?

As a result of these issues, our current estimate of 60,000 trapped in The Revolving Door may be considerably lower than the actual number.

The difficulty our service providers face in responding to these problems

Historically, providers in our health, social and criminal justice systems are set up to deal with a single issue presenting at a time.

They tend to focus on the specific needs of the homeless person, or the person with substance dependency, or the repeat offender.

Providers often have difficulty recognising the true needs of an individual with the multiple complex problems that characterise The Revolving Doors group.

Because each one of someone’s problems may not qualify as ‘serious’ when considered individually, that person is often turned away. This sense of exclusion can then trigger the crisis-crime cycle all over again.

The impact on society of our failure to address this group’s complex needs

The financial cost is significant, typically over £20,000 a year per individual and in some cases far higher.

Much harder to quantify is the high emotional cost to those individuals affected in terms of reduced quality of life, limited life opportunities and dysfunctional personal relationships.

By looking at the problem in new ways, service providers can transform lives

We have demonstrated with robust evidence that multiple complex problems carry their own pointers to possible solutions.

For example, we know that The Revolving Doors group comes into frequent contact with the emergency services. When providers are able to recognise the needs of these individuals and are aware of the opportunities that exist to support them, then solutions are much more likely to be implemented.