Ensuring the voluntary sector’s role in the future probation model
Since the Ministry of Justice announced their decision to end current probation contracts early and consider a new model for probation from 2020 onwards, Clinks has been working to ensure that learning from our trackTR research is utilised and the voluntary sector has a central place in the future model.
In a blog published today, Jess Mullen, Clinks’ Head of Policy and Communications reflects on recent developments and the current proposals for the future (as outlined by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service at Clinks’ events in February). She argues the changes currently proposed for the future of probation do not go far enough to ensure the sector’s role.
Clinks makes five recommendations to acheive this:
1: Simplify the system and reconsider the commitment to contracting out, redirecting resources to direct service delivery by a public sector probation service similar to the model proposed in Wales.
2: Provide grant funding to ensure the least possible risk for those least able to bear it. Commissioning strategies should make a proportion of budgets available as grant funding alongside other funding mechanisms. This would support a diverse voluntary sector providing the right mix of funding for a range of different sized organisations.
3: Tackle inequality by making responsibility for equalities duties clear and providing grant funding for specialist services. Any contracted out services must have clearly specified requirements for meeting the needs of people with protected characteristics with a pass/fail criteria attached.
4: Ensure a local response. Commissioning strategies must ensure that the needs of the varied, diverse and specific localities within each probation area are met and must support and nurture further the existing eco system of voluntary sector organisations in each locality.
5: Provide opportunities and resource for the voluntary sector to do what they design and deliver what they do best – flexible, holistic and responsive desistance based services.