Since Transforming Rehabilitation changed the face of probation services, Clinks has been tracking the voluntary sector’s role alongside Community Rehabilitation Companies and the National Probation Service. The new trackTR survey is open, and I’d urge you to respond. We’re going to keep it open until 31st March to allow you time to respond. It really does make a difference.
On 29th October 2014 the Ministry of Justice announced that the voluntary sector would be at the forefront of a new fight against reoffending. They announced that 75% of the 300 subcontractors named in the successful bids were voluntary sector or mutual organisations. But since these announcements the role of the voluntary sector has been far from obvious. It hasn’t been transparent, and we have often been left guessing about who is delivering what, where, and why. It’s not at all clear that the voluntary sector has been encouraged to be at the forefront of a ‘new fight’ or a ‘transformation’.
The 150 responses to the last trackTR survey have been invaluable. They shed light on the voluntary sector’s experience and gave us real detail about the effect on the ground. As a result we produced the report, Change and challenge, making recommendations to the Ministry of Justice, National Offender Management Service, Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), the National Probation Service (NPS) and HM Inspectorate of Probation, all with the aim of improving the voluntary sector’s involvement.
Have we achieved everything we set out to do? The answer is not yet, but we have achieved a lot. Not only did we produce the best data available on the voluntary sector’s experience, we also informed the National Audit Office’s report, the Public Accounts Committee review of Transforming Rehabilitation, and HM Inspectorate of Probation’s early implementation reports. We continue to inform the Justice Select Committee and the probation review being undertaken by the Ministry of Justice. We keep on encouraging CRCs and the NPS to improve their involvement of the sector.
A lot has changed since we last came to the sector and asked about their experiences of Transforming Rehabilitation. Some have found a place in the new arrangements, others have not. Some have become more involved, some feel squeezed out, some have changed their focus, whereas others are working completely outside of the new arrangements. Large scale contracting has put some services out of reach for many of our smaller members, but even for those that can win big contracts it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. There is much we can learn from Transforming Rehabilitation as to how you transform public services, and what does or doesn’t allow voluntary organisations to have a meaningful role. That is why our work to track the voluntary sector’s experiences of Transforming Rehabilitation remains such a key part of Clinks’ work.
Of one thing we are certain. Voluntary organisations are the backbone of rehabilitation and resettlement services in England and Wales. The sector has a rich history, shown in Clinks’ timeline of voluntary sector achievements. It is far more than just a provider, it is at the heart of reform and progress in many areas. But in order to do that it also needs to be allowed to work in a way that represents quality, delivering services that flex to people’s needs and their aspirations, listening to their service users and responding accordingly. This requires the right management, funding and ethos. Crucially the voluntary sector can’t deliver what is needed without a healthy and mutually respectful relationship with our police, court, probation and prison services.
We know there is much more to do, but to advocate for voluntary organisations we need to hear from you. That’s why we ask you to take approximately 30 minutes to complete our latest survey. If you’re one of the 50 organisations that have already responded, thank you wholeheartedly. If you haven’t completed the survey yet then we would love to hear from you. The survey will be open until the 31st March to allow you time to complete it. Your responses will lead to a new trackTR report and inform how Clinks advocates for its members in the year ahead.
Thank you for your support. If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org