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More than a provider: the role of the voluntary sector in the commissioning of offender services

Voluntary sector organisations have played an active and vital role in criminal justice and community safety for over a century. More than just potential providers of services; they are advocates, campaigners, sources of vital information on service user need, a critical eye on existing services and innovators that drive social change.
Clinks has interviewed voluntary sector organisations navigating the complex world of procurement and subcontracting, and held discussions with commissioners. From this rich information we have developed a vision of good commissioning for rehabilitation and desistance from crime.
Funded by Tudor Trust and Lankelly Chase Foundation, the report gives examples of good practice, including using the expertise of voluntary organisations to assess service user need; giving clear information about tendering processes and key contacts; and using grants to support partnership development. But we also heard about over-stretched commissioning teams that have less time to develop collaborative commissioning or get out and meet service users; and insufficient measures to prevent the loss of high-quality, locally rooted organisations in an increasingly crowded market. We have made recommendations on how these issues can be addressed.
Published: August 2014