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Strategy to Reform Rehabilitation

Following the recent Ministry of Justice consultation into Transforming Rehabilitation, the MoJ has published its strategy of reform.

The strategy starts with a clear statement about the creation of a new public sector National Probation Service building upon the expertise and professionalism which are already in place.  However, the NPS element of activity is only a small proportion of the services to be provided, so while the inference is that the service will be public (no doubt in an attempt to quell rumours of a total privatisation), nearly 90% of the rehabilitation services will be delivered through payment by results contracts.

The key strategies are to:

  • extend statutory rehabilitation to all 50,000 of the most prolific group of offenders eg those sentenced to less than 12 months in custody;
  • put in place an unprecedented nationwide ‘through the prison gate’ resettlement service, with most offenders receiving continuous support by one provider from custody into the community;
  • open up the market to a diverse range of new rehabilitation providers, to get the best out of the public, voluntary and private sectors, at the local as well as national level;
  • offer new payment incentives for market providers to focus on reforming offenders, giving providers flexibility to do what works and freedom from bureaucracy, but only paying them in full for real reductions in reoffending.

The new rehabilitation providers will deal with low and medium risk offenders, while the public sector will work with the 10--15% of offenders subject to MAPPA supervision and those assessed as posing risk of serious harm.  

The strategy document outlines 21 contract package areas across England and Wales.  This will do little to dispell the fears voiced by many that only major organisations will be in a position to contract for the services.  Diversity of the supply chain should theoretically come into the assessment of tenders, but we know all too well that government don't have a great track record for looking at the wider picture when it comes to assessing supply chains during tendering.

Current service providers already know the challenge of delivering through the gate services with prisoners being released into different areas of the country to which they serve their sentence, as well as offenders having other personal priorities upon release which make them likely to fall out of touch with their service provider.  

There are interesting and challenging times ahead, not least the element of PBR that this provision is likely to entail?  Tendering is expected to start in summer 2013.  Click here for the prior information notice.

15 May 2013

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