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Nathan Dick, Head of Policy and Communication at Clinks, asks how the third sector will be affected by the fact that none of the TR Preferred bidders are from the sector


Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) has taken its next step. We now know who the preferred bidders are, and where they will work. These new partnerships are going to herald a significant change in how ‘offender management’ is carried out.


The Ministry of Justice statement on preferred bidders, which came out on 29th October, listed by my count, 14 charities, seven private sector organisations, and two public sector mutuals. This doesn’t give us a true picture of all the providers in the various supply chains, or the extent to which they will be involved in delivering services. It also doesn’t clarify who the primary contract holder is – though it’s unlikely to be a voluntary sector organisation.


What we do know is that this process is liable to change. As of 6 November GEO Group UK withdrew from of the competition because they had “not been able to reach an acceptable agreement” with the MoJ. This means that the GEO Mercia Willowdene partnership is no longer the preferred bidder for Warwickshire and West Mercia CRC.  EOS, which is part of Staffline Group plc, are now in discussion with the MoJ and are said to be speaking with Willowdene Rehabilitation (social enterprise) and the staff mutual Mercia Community Action who were formerly in partnership with GEO.


What role will the voluntary sector actually play in delivering services?


It’s clear we need to progress the conversation we have been having around TR. A lot of our focus has been on the commissioning process, and rightly so. The discussion needs to turn to what services the voluntary sector will deliver, what sort of a strategic role they will get, what the volume of work will be, and what payment mechanisms are established to pay them.  Close scrutiny of the eight new partnerships will be essential.


The voluntary sector organisations listed in the partnerships announced last week are mostly large (by criminal justice standards) Nacro, Addaction, CRI, and Shelter, and you would expect them to be delivering a significant element of the offender management, but at the moment this role hasn’t been defined. There are also some medium sized organisations such as St. Giles Trust and P3. We must not forget that there are also some comparatively small organisations listed in those partnerships, for instance, A Band of Brothers, Thames Valley Partnership, and Willowdene Rehabilitation Ltd (if they can secure a new partnership). The roles, services, and volume of work that all these organisations undertake will doubtless be incredibly different.


It seems apparent that the MoJ understand the vital role the voluntary sector plays in resettlement and rehabilitation. It makes me ponder, not for the first time, whether any of these partnerships would be able to deliver any of the services they bid for without the expertise and professionalism of their voluntary sector partners.


Why didn’t we get a voluntary sector lead preferred bidder?


I know that many are disappointed that we won’t have the chance to see how the voluntary sector would have done things differently. It has been well publicised that organisations like Catch 22, Home Group, and Turning Point were not successful in becoming listed as preferred bidders, despite a committed effort.


Clinks is disappointed too, and we want to make sure that we know why there was no voluntary sector lead preferred bidder before we can progress on our members’ behalf; we need to know the facts. Some of the reasons why it was difficult for the voluntary sector to bid as lead providers in the first place are well documented in our early (and ongoing) responses to TR e.g. the size of the contract package areas, the financial backing, the financial risk, the introduction of payment by results, and some more ethical considerations about the role that charities should take in delivering orders of the court, and some of the risks often raised in relation to partnering with large private sector organisations. But in the end we don’t know what factors really determined the outcome.


What about the 13,500 other voluntary sector organisations that work with this client group?


We should be clear that the voluntary sector in criminal justice is made up of a small amount of large providers, a slightly larger amount of medium sized organisations, and a vast amount of small ones (See research by TSRC). We know that the bulk of the voluntary sector’s work is at a very local level, in local authorities and neighbourhoods. How these organisations will be involved and engaged in the newly emerging Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) is anyone’s guess at the moment.


The MoJ has spoken about 300 material subcontractors in the bids, with the majority of these being voluntary sector organisations. They have also pointed to the fact that 700 voluntary sector organisations have registered as potential providers with the MoJ. A further 500 organisations have registered on Clinks’ Partnership Finder. Even if we combine all of these databases it only represents a small snapshot of the sector, and it doesn’t tell us anything about how they will be engaged.


For Clinks, the test of these new CRCs will not only be whether they positively impact on reducing re-offending, but also the extent to which they can address the diverse needs of their service users, and how they’ll work with specialist services to make a real difference. We know that the sector offers a wealth of expertise in a number of areas, which include (but are not exclusive to) women’s services, the needs of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic service users, older people, people with disabilities, and care leavers. In Clinks’ recent discussion paper ‘What does good rehabilitation look like?’, we found that the voluntary sector’s role in providing specialist and flexible services is key to improving the lives of people in the CJS.


A longer version of this blog was originally posted on the Clinks website. Clinks is a member of the T2A Alliance. It supports the voluntary sector in Criminal Justice, providing information and voice to the sector, as well as working to bring about positive change for people in the Criminal Justice System. Find out more about their work by going to their website.

Results for the first group (cohort) of 1000 prisoners on the Peterborough Social Bond (SIB) were announced today, demonstrating an 8.4% reduction in reconviction rates relative to the comparable national baseline. The project is on course to receive outcome payments in 2016. Based on the trend in performance demonstrated in the first cohort, investors can look forward to a positive return, including the return of capital, on the funds they have invested.

The momentum in the project reflects the significant advantages of the model – that long term funding provides the scope to build a deep understanding of the complex needs of offenders and the flexibility to invest in meeting them.


The Ministry of Justice and the Big Lottery Fund will make payments to investors in 2016 if there is a reduction in reoffending of more than 7.5%; but the project does not qualify for a payment at this early juncture.


The results were compiled by independent assessor Professor Darrick Joliffe and his team from Qinetiq and the University of Leicester, for the Ministry of Justice, using the PSM methodology. The independent assessor calculated that there were 142 reconvictions per 100 prisoners in Peterborough compared to 155 reconvictions per 100 prisoners in the control group.


“We are very encouraged by the evidence of the positive impact of the support the SIB has provided in the first cohort and are encouraged by continuing improvements in our work with offenders on the second cohort. The SIB has given our delivery partners the resources and the freedom to meet the complex needs of our prison leavers very effectively,” said David Hutchison, CEO of Social Finance.


Sara Llewellin, CEO of the Barrow Cadbury Trust and SIB investor said: “We are delighted with the progress made in the first cohort of the Peterborough Social Impact Bond. As investors, we wanted to prove that by doing something differently, and by being more flexible, we could indeed create a different outcome. An outcome which is a ‘WIN, WIN’; a win for the taxpayer as the volume of repeat crime falls and a win for prisoners and their families when they take charge of restabilising their lives.”


“Resettlement of short term prisoners has long been a blind spot of criminal justice and social welfare systems. The independent funders who came together to invest in the first Social Impact Bond saw an opportunity to move beyond temporary gap-filling towards developing and testing a whole sustainable system. There are many lessons that we need to learn from this bold experiment, from its data driven rigour, to its clear value base, to its ability to contend flexibly with complex social issues. The prospect of getting our investment back with a return is an exciting indication that thorough-going resettlement can create enough cashable savings to make a new system affordable when done properly,” said Julian Corner, CEO of the LankellyChase Foundation and investor in the Peterborough SIB.


“The One Service has helped me with a training course, housing needs, food, electricity and someone has always been on the end of the phone even if it’s just someone to talk to. I have rung them so many times even if it is just to rant and vent what I’m thinking. If it hadn’t have been for this I would be back in prison by now.” Mr Flattley, One Service client, with 24 prison sentences and no previous rehabilitative support.


Background to the pilot

Social Finance launched the Peterborough Social Impact Bond in 2010, supported by 17 foundations, who committed to invest £5million. It was designed as a seven year pilot to test the premise that offering comprehensive and individual support to prisoners would help them stay out of prison and build a new life for themselves on the outside. The first cohort of prisoners was released from September 2010 – May 2012. During this period, Social Finance set up a new service, known as the One Service, which included delivery organisations St Giles Trust, Sova, Ormiston Families, YMCA and, MIND to provide housing, family, health, employment and training support. The One Service also works with local drug and alcohol services. John Laing Training joined the project in the second cohort.


Early learnings

As the programme progressed, it was clear that there were three gaps which impacted the lives of prison leavers most profoundly: the provision of accommodation, support for low-level mental health needs and the lack of training and employment opportunities. Flexible funding from investors allowed the One Service partners to create a multi-agency offering to respond to these needs of the offenders.


Improving performance

Repeat offending by short sentenced prisoners has challenged the UK for many years but no statutory support has been on offer for this group of prisoners. As offenders recognised that the Peterborough project was stable and long-term, and would continue to support them even if they ended up back in prison, engagement levels rose from 74% in Cohort 1 to 86% in Cohort 2 while in prison and from 37% (cohort 1) to 71% (cohort 2) after release.


Not only did engagement levels rise over the course of the first four years, but the team’s understanding and ability to meet the needs of offenders improved. This is reflected, for example, in the reoffending rates for the first six months of the Cohort 2 which lie 8% below those for the first six months of Cohort 1.


“Rehabilitating prisoners demands commitment, proper financial resources and patience. The project was deliberately set up to be a long term project so that we can learn, improve and refine the best ways of supporting prisoners on release. Today’s results are very encouraging,” said David Robinson, chair of the Peterborough SIB Advisory Board.


Local relationships

The One Service established an excellent working relationship with Peterborough prison and close links with local statutory and voluntary partners in the area. Many of the One Service’s practices, such as the through the gates model, have been adopted more widely.


A representative from the Peterborough Community Safety Partnership wrote in June 2014: “We have [..] been fortunate enough to bear witness to the journey of the pilot as it has evolved, as well as to experience first hand some of the case studies that really do bring the scheme to life. There have been, and […] sure will continue to be, some truly inspirational stories involving often entrenched offenders transforming their lives as a direct result of the work of the One Service leading to significant public sector direct and enabled savings and a real reduction in re-offending with fewer victims of crime as a result.”


Independent research

Leading research institute RAND Europe published an independent evaluation of the Peterborough SIB in April 2014 which concluded that the innovation lay in the flexibility of the funding, the local management and operations of the project, the frequent review and adaption of the intervention models and the collection and use of management information.


Wider adoption of the Social Impact Bond model

The Peterborough pilot was the first Social Impact Bond – a new model of investing into preventative services to tackle entrenched social problems. It aligns social impact with financial return by linking payments to investors with increased operational success. If the impact is not achieved, investors do not receive payments and risk losing their investment.


Social Impact Bonds provide additional and non-governmental funding to chronic social issues such as youth unemployment, children in care, homelessness and criminal justice. Following the Peterborough launch in 2010, there are now 16 Social Impact Bonds in the UK, 4 in the US, 2 in Australia, 1 in Canada, 1 in the Netherlands, 1 in Belgium, 1 in Germany and more than 100 proposals world-wide. Over $100m has been raised in social investment to fund Social Impact Bonds globally.


Three of the SIBs under Social Finance management have already paid outcome payments to investors.


Transition arrangements agreed for the continuation of the One Service

As a direct consequence of the Government’s decision to restructure the provision of probation services nationally, the Ministry of Justice announced on 24th April 2014 that it would bring the Peterborough pilot to a close early. The Ministry of Justice has been keen to structure transitional arrangements to ensure that the pilot is able to complete its work with the second group of 1000 prisoners using the Social Impact Bond model. In addition the Ministry of Justice has been keen to ensure the continuity of the service to those who would have joined the third and final group until a new contractor takes on responsibility for the East of England. Details of the transitional arrangements have now been agreed and are set out in the announcement included in the notes to editors. They reflect directly the wish of all parties that the service continue in its current form until the new national arrangements are in place and that investors’ interests are properly respected.