Charity leaders are today calling for urgent and radical reform of the criminal justice system. With prison population figures at record levels, reoffending rates stubbornly high and the Ministry of Justice facing a 23% budget cut, the charities argue that as an economy and as a society, we simply cannot afford to continue with the self-defeating status quo. ACEVO’s Reducing Reoffending taskforce is therefore urging Government to re-energise their commitment for a genuine Rehabilitation Revolution and work with the third sector to make sure it does not fall off track.
Back on Track, the Taskforce’s final report, launched today, encourages Government to be progressive and bold in their vision for reform. This means facing up to resistance from those committed to the “throw away the key” approach, and close a number of prisons in order to free up significant resource to invest in rehabilitating offenders far more effectively.
The report makes a series of practical recommendations to Government to help implement the Rehabilitation Revolution and succeed where previous administrations have not in tackling the engrained problem of reoffending.
The report urges Government to work with the third sector to:
- FREE UP RESOURCES NOW: by redirecting the money used for discharge grants by ensuring that all prisoners leave with the basics set up before they leave the prison gate; benefits, housing, GP, bank accounts and access to the Work Programme. Secondly by making greater use of community sentences, giving probation officials more discretion and evaluating alternative provision for elderly offenders. The taskforce believes this could save as much as £40-70m per annum which could be invested as seed-corn funding for the new system and innovative ways of rehabilitating offenders.
- REFORM HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS: creating a new system that delivers more effective and joined up services working with offenders to prevent recidivism.
- REFORM COMMISSIONING: to ensure a level playing field between providers with services being commissioned on evidenced value not price; by reforming public sector pensions; tackling conflicts of interest by ensuring a split between commissioners and providers and extending the Right to Challenge so that voluntary groups can challenge poor services where they see them.
- ENSURE DELIVERY MODELS DO NOT DISADVANTAGE THE THIRD SECTOR: by making sure that payment by results can work for the sector; ensuring that prime contractors are financially incentivised to manage their supply chains and to focus resources disproportionally on those offenders who are more problematic and therefore more costly to the tax payer; one that supports the key principle of competitive tendering based on quality outcomes not purely on price.
ACEVO’s taskforce was chaired by Rob Owen, chief executive of St Giles Trust - a leading charity with an impressive track record of tackling reoffending.
Speaking on the recommendations of ACEVO’s taskforce, Rob Owen said,
“It’s clear that the criminal justice system in this country needs a radical overall. With fewer resources and rising prison rates we have an impending crisis on our hands which will only drive higher rates of crime and ultimately lead to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands more victims of crime; and, more worryingly, drive the destructive inter-generational cycle of crime yet further.
“Government promised a Rehabilitation Revolution, the principles of which this taskforce strongly supports. But as charities tackling, at the frontline, the cycle of reoffending we are extremely concerned that the Government is in danger of letting these principles be overcome by resistance from the 'Warehouse and throw away the key' school of thought, particularly after the August riots. Without urgent and radical reform, this revolution may well fall off track. For the wellbeing of society and for the hard pressed taxpayer we cannot afford for this to happen.
“Government needs to remain confident and bold in its commitment to the Rehabilitation Revolution and, if it is to deliver, work with us, the third sector, to help build an intelligent inter sectorial partnership to tackle reoffending. We are a sector with a long and impressive track record of working with the hardest to reach and successfully preventing reoffending – this knowledge must be central to the reforms if the Rehabilitation Revolution is to meet expectations.”
The taskforce put their recommendations to Minister Crispin Blunt and look forward to receiving a formal response.
Notes to Editors
ACEVO is the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations and we are the leading voice for chief executives in the third sector. With over 2,000 members nationwide, we support, develop, connect and represent third sector leaders.
About Rob Owen
Rob Owen is Chief Executive of St Giles Trust, a multi award winning charity that helps break the cycle of re-offending. The cornerstone of St Giles services is their innovative use of trained ex-offenders who use their first hand experiences to provide services to others. Key services for St Giles revolve around housing and employment, providing intensive support to people leaving prison, work with gang members and work with families and children. They also work with disadvantaged people in the community.
St Giles Trust was recently voted Britain’s Most Innovative Charity, as well as being a Charity of the Year award winner, a Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to work for winner and excitingly the first organisation to deliver the ‘Social Impact Bond’.
Previously Rob was an Investment Banker working in London, New York and Tokyo. He has led multiple arctic and high altitude expeditions raising money for charity and is a published author on the subject of sports sponsorship.
Members of the taskforce:
- Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive, Rethink
- Clare Jones, Joint Chief Executive, WomenCentre
- Ginny Lunn, Director of Policy and Development, Prince’s Trust
- Clive Martin, Director, Clinks
- Andrea McCubbin, Development Director, Blue Sky Development
- Paul McDowell, CEO, Nacro
- Joyce Moseley, Chief Executive, Catch22 (replaced by new Catch 22 CEO – Chris Wright – on her retirement)
- Steve Rawlins, Regional Manager, Time For Families