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supporting voluntary organisations that work with offenders and their families

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Service user involvement

The people and families who have experience of the criminal justice system (CJS) are a vital source of intelligence about how to improve services. Involving these 'experts by experience'  is key to the difference we can make in the lives of offenders - improving the quality and impact of the services on offer, and enabling services users to build a new identity which supports their journey to desistance from crime. Clinks is committed to promoting and supporting the development of service user involvement in the CJS, including by and within voluntary sector organisations.


Service User Involvement Managers' network

We coordinate a network for service user involvement managers from Clinks member organisations to share expertise and learn from one another.  The network aims to celebrate your successes in involving service users, support you to overcome the challenges you meet, and promote and build effective service user involvement across the Criminal Justice System.  Network members will also help to shape Clinks' future work and resources on service user involvement.

If you would like more information, and to join the network, please email


Guide to service user involvement and co-production (2016) - This practical guide provides a structured and accessible introduction to involving people with lived experience of criminal justice in your organisation and work. Whether you are new to service user involvement, or looking to take the next steps towards a full co-production approach, the guide will give you all the tools you need to develop a meaningful involvement programme which places your service users at the heart of your organisation.  Includes good practical examples, top tips, checklists, downloadable templates and signposting to further information and support.Cover photo of guide to service user involvement
Good practice in service user involvement (2016) - This good practice report showcases six current examples of best practice in service user involvement from the voluntary sector working in criminal justice. The case studies cover a broad range of different approaches and models, and identify key project outcomes, essential requirements for setting up and sustaining the project, and some of the main challenges experienced along the way.Cover to good practice in service user involvement
Volunteer Peer Support - The purpose of this guide is to support Voluntary and Community Sector organisations and other agencies and stakeholders in the CJS to deliver quality peer-to-peer services for people in custody, those released from prison and people serving community sentences

Previous work

Unlocking Potential - How offenders, former offenders and their families can contribute to a more effective Criminal Justice System [2008] - This report highlights how, within the CJS, service users have little say in the way rehabilitation services are designed and run. There are however some welcome signs that this is beginning to change and this report details several examples of good practice.