What is Clinks doing on probation reform?
In May 2019, the government announced its plans for probation reform and to bring all offender management under the responsibility of the National Probation Service by spring 2021.
Since this announcement, the government have been fleshing out their plans, delivering a series of events and webinars to explain further how the probation service will be structured, how services will be commissioned and their planned timelines for the reforms. Information continues to come in high volume.
This blog sets out what Clinks is doing to keep members informed about the development of a new probation system, and how we are ensuring that the voluntary sector’s role, knowledge and expertise is reflected in the design of the new system.
Keeping members informed
We have published a briefing on the government’s draft operating blueprint, pulling out the key information for voluntary organisations and the service users they support. The blueprint is the most detailed plan the government have published so far, which includes information on procurement timelines.
Clinks will continue to publish up-to-date information in a way that is responsive, timely and accessible for members. We will:
- Publish briefings on significant government publications
- Write regular blogs on what we hear at Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service (HMPPS) events, webinars and meetings
- Send out regular updates via Twitter and our weekly Light Lunch ebulletin.
You can find links to all these blogs and briefings on the probation page of our website.
Making the sector’s voice heard
Clinks’ trackTR research was influential in highlighting how the flaws in Transforming Rehabilitation impacted the voluntary sector, and we supported voluntary organisations to feedback their expertise to government throughout the Strengthening probation, building confidence consultation. Now, Clinks wants to ensure that the voluntary sector’s role, knowledge and expertise is reflected in the design of the new probation system.
We are doing this in a number of ways: attending market engagement events, meeting regularly with officials and as a member of the Probation programme’s design assurance panel, where we continue to make the case for principles of good commissioning processes that support voluntary organisations to remain resilient, flexible and innovative. We are:
- Pushing for procurement processes to be more accessible and proportionate to the scale of the services being commissioned.
- Advocating for grant funding for the voluntary sector to be properly utilised to ensure the least possible risk for those least able to bear it. Effective use of grant making would reduce complex and expensive commissioning processes, sustain vital effective services and provide flexibility to give charities and social enterprises the space to innovate and find the best solutions for service users.
- Promoting the need for clear responsibility for equalities duties and adequate grant funding for services that meet the needs of people with protected characteristics.
- Calling for each new probation area to ensure that voluntary sector engagement is embedded in a strategic and meaningful way, and not solely led by the procurement of services.
Clinks is also coordinating a roundtable with voluntary sector organisations, prison governors and senior officials from HMPPS to share experiences of the recently rolled-out Prison Education Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) in order to inform the design of the dynamic framework under the new probation model.
Prison staff and the voluntary sector have highlighted significant challenges with the education DPS, and the learning from this must be taken into account into the design of the probation dynamic framework, which is expected to function in a similar way. The dynamic framework will be used to commission all resettlement and rehabilitative services, and will be the main tool from which voluntary organisations will be contracted to deliver work.
We want to continue to hear from you and base our feedback to HMPPS on your views on the future probation model. To offer your views please email Jessica.Mullen@clinks.org.