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supporting voluntary organisations that work with offenders and their families

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Health and justice

People in contact with the criminal justice system generally have higher health needs and worse health outcomes than the general population.  Many in this group engage in high risk behaviour, do not access primary care services, and do not manage existing health issues effectively. They are over-represented in emergency services, resulting in greater cost to the system and less positive outcomes. Find out more about the health needs of offenders.

Clinks supports the voluntary sector working in health and justice. We advocate for health services to better meet the needs of people in contact with the criminal justice system, and for recognition of the role of the voluntary sector.

Latest news: Policing, health and social care consensus

Policing, health and social care organisations in England have launched a new national consensus statement, agreeing to work together to improve people's health and wellbeing, prevent crime and protect the most vulnerable people. Clinks has supported the development of the consensus as part of our work with the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, highlighting the need to fully involve the voluntary sector as key partners in delivering prevention and early intervention. Read more about the consensus here

Navigating the health landscape

Clinks have updated our key guide to the health and care system for organisations working with people in criminal justice. Navigating the health landscape in England provides a clear, accessible overview of who commissions health and care services for people in the criminal justice system, in custody and in the community.  New or updated sections in the latest version include: Local authority adult social services; Police and Crime Commissioners; and NHS England regional commissioning structures. Download the guide here.

Health and Justice bulletin

Keep up-to-date on health and justice developments with our monthly news round-up for voluntary sector organisations involved, or with an interest, in the health and care of people in contact with the criminal justice system and their families.  Find out more here.

Personalisation and criminal justice

'Person-centred approaches' have long been an important concept in health and social care. But what does personalisation mean, and how can it apply in a criminal justice context? In this series of 4 short videos, Professor Chris Fox from Manchester Metropolitan University explains. Watch the videos here.

VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance

VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance logoClinks is a member of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, a partnership between the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England, and 21 national voluntary sector organisations and consortia.  The HW Alliance aims to bring the voice of the sector and people with lived experience into national policy making, to promote equality and reduce health inequalities. Clinks works together with Nacro to raise awareness of the health needs of people in the criminal justice system, and the vital role the voluntary sector can play in addressing them. To find out more, please contact


Race, mental health and criminal justice: Moving forward

Nacro, along with Clinks, Association for Mental Health Providers, and the Race Equality Foundation, have published ‘Race, mental health and criminal justice: Moving forward’. People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are disproportionately represented at all stages of the criminal justice system, and are also more likely than white Britons to access mental health care via criminal justice rather than through local health services.

Navigating the health landscape in England: A guide for the voluntary sector working with people in the criminal justice system (July 2017) - An accessible overview to help the voluntary sector navigate the complex health and care world.  This publication highlights the key bodies involved, including those with direct responsibility for commissioning health services for people in the criminal justice system.

Rights and complaints procedures for health and care services (July 2017) - Essential guidance explaining how and where to challenge health services or social care, if you believe a service user is not receiving the right treatment or standard of care. Includes information on the NHS Constitution, Care Act, and complaints and advocacy services.
Homelessness and health for disadvantaged groups (June 2017) - This report looks at the links between homelessness and health for a range of disadvantaged groups, including a section by Clinks on people in contact with the criminal justice system. The briefing outlines key issues relating to health and housing for each group, and recommendations for addressing them.
RR3 Special Interest Group on suicide and self-harm in prison: Key Findings and Recommendations (February 2017) - This RR3 Special Interest Group met twice in late 2016 to discuss how to provide effective care and support for people at risk of suicide and self-harm when entering prison, in prison and on release. The paper makes recommendations to voluntary organisations, the Ministry of Justice and other stakeholders.

The Care Act (2014) and the voluntary sector working in criminal justice (March 2015) - This briefing, written by ACEVO, explains the Care Act (2014) and its relevance to voluntary sector organisations working with people in prison custody who are resettled back into local communities.

This briefing, written by ACEVO in partnership with Clinks, covers potential opportunities for voluntary sector organisations to be more closely involved in the delivery of healthcare services to people in contact with the criminal justice system (CJS); how healthcare is commissioned for prisoners following the 2012 Health and Social Care Act; and guidance on how to make partnerships with commissioners work.

Health and care services for women offenders (2015) - Results from Clinks' survey of voluntary sector organisations providing health and care services to women in the criminal justice system.  The report highlights the range of services organisations provide, and identifies areas where support needs to be improved.

Case Studies

St Giles Trust - Supporting ex-offenders with ‘hidden disabilities’ (2016)
This case study looks at the support St Giles Trust provide to people in the criminal justice system with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other disabilities. ASD is a lifelong condition which affects how a person communicates and makes sense of the world around them. St Giles Trust provide flexible and highly-tailored support enabling people with ASD to successfully desist from crime and rebuild their lives.

Keyring - Supporting offenders with learning disabilities (2016) - A case study exploring Keyring's work with people with a learning disability who have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System, through the eyes of one of their clients. An estimated 5-10% of the adult offender population are affected by a learning disability.

Community Links: Changes - support for women with complex needs and personality disorder in Yorkshire (2015) - This case study focuses on the Community Links ‘Changes’ project which supports women with personality disorder. It looks at the vital support they provide to clients, what it's like to work with this client group, how the project is funded, and a client's individual journey through the service.

Pecan: Moving On (2015) - A case study of one woman’s journey with Pecan’s Moving On programme, a one-to-one mentoring service supporting women aged 18-25 through the transition from prison into the community.

Sahir House: Achieving outcomes for HIV positive clients (2014) - Highlighting how succesful partnerships with the health and care sector enabled Sahir House to provide continuity of support to a service user through the difficult transition from prison to the community.

Lancashire Women's Centres: Ensuring the best health outcomes for vulnerable women (2014) - Explores one voluntary sector organisation's experiences providing NHS-commissioned mental health services to improve health outcomes for the women they work with.
Evidence submission to the Care Quality Commission: Good person-centred care for offenders (2014) - Clinks were invited to submit a brief summary of evidence, including indicative fictional case studies, on good practice in person-centred care for offenders in the community, to help guide the Care Quality Commission in future inspections.

Useful links and resources

We've compiled a list of useful external links and resources for those involved, or with an interest, in the health and care of offenders. To visit the page, click here