To mark the launch of the reformed probation model in June 2021, the Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group (RR3) special interest group on probation reform has published its final report.

The special interest group on probation reform was set up in March 2020 to advise the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) as they prepared for the transition to the unified model in June 2021. The group convened six meetings, bringing together voluntary sector leaders and government officials to discuss in detail how the reformed probation model could fully tap into the vast expertise and experience of the voluntary sector working in criminal justice.

This paper reflects on the key learnings from the group, which we hope can help shape improved commissioning processes and better partnership working in future probation services. Some of the key learnings include:

  • The MoJ and HMPPS should engage with the voluntary sector, Cabinet Office and other government departments running competitive tenders to understand how it can reduce the complexity of its commissioning processes.
  • At the start of any criminal justice procurement process, special consideration should be given to how services will be tailored to racially minoritised people, recognising the range of needs within this group as a result of diverse ethnicities and cultural backgrounds and intersecting identities. Clear processes and assigned budgets should be established to ensure the involvement of organisations led by and focussed on racially minoritised people from day-one.
  • Regional Probation Directors should commission services for racially minoritised people as a priority and ensure that organisations led by and focused on racially minoritised people are enabled to engage with the design and delivery of those services.
  • Commissioning guidance issued to Regional Probation Directors should be amended to clearly set out how grants can be made and the benefit of grant funding for voluntary organisations.
  • Regional Probation Directors should establish meaningful voluntary sector forums far beyond their supply chains to better understand local challenges, promote multi-agency working and information sharing, and learn how empowering and enabling voluntary sector services can help them reach their ambitions.

The Reducing Reoffending Third Sector Advisory Group (RR3) is a formal advisory group to the MoJ and HMPPS, coordinated and chaired by Clinks. The main RR3 group consists of 17 voluntary sector leaders openly recruited for their expertise and experience in delivering transformative services for people in the criminal justice system, while the group regularly co-opts additional expertise to the group from the wider sector where the need is identified.

To read the full report click here: Link