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Offender management and rehabilitation

Catch22 responds to call for evidence from Justice Committee on “The future of the Probation Service”

The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, taken from across the River Thames. Overlaid is text that reads: "Consultation Response".

In September 2020, the Justice Committee called for evidence that examines the proposed model for the new probation service, how well the proposed model addresses the problems identified in the past, as well as the effect of COVID-19 on delivery.

Catch22 is a leading CRC supply chain partner for Through the Gate services, currently operating 23 custodial based services in 20 prisons. We are the only offender management unit in the country delivered by a third sector organisation, with our resettlement and gangs services supporting approximately 35,000 people in custody in 2019/20.

Our vision is a strong society where everyone has a good place to live, a purpose and good people around them. As an organisation our principal aim is to help reform public services so that everyone can achieve these things.

Because Catch22 also provides children’s social care, alternative provision education, apprenticeships and routes to employment, our work in prison and probation services is informed by our understanding of the whole system – we understand the barriers to rehabilitation and the opportunities to intervene early. We work hard to be innovative and our programmes win awards. We care about giving people with convictions a better future, but also supporting victims, with Police and Crime Commissioners across Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Hertfordshire commissioning our victim services.

We believe that the probation system can benefit from adopting the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector’s (VCSE) most effective programmes and practices, such as Catch22 as well, for example, the employability work and mentoring of Switchback, the in-prison coding lessons of Code4000, and domestic abuse perpetrator change programmes like Drive (developed by SafeLives).

Core recommendations

A truly successful probation service needs three things:

  • the right organisations commissioned to flexibly deliver, embedded in and from the community;
  • highly skilled staff-relationship builders who can support the complex needs of the individuals caught up in the justice system; and finally,
  • contracts which focus on social outcomes, not arbitrary paper targets.

The most successful social interventions have one thing in common. Rather than focusing on an arbitrary public vs private vs non-profit debate, they simply commission the organisation best placed to do the work and manage the risk. The non-profit sector has proven its ability to effectively manage complex risk: HMIP has time and again recognised charities like Catch22 and Nacro for our skilled staff and thoughtful work, helping to build a safer society.

The right organisation, staffed by the right people, must be underpinned by an outcomes-based model which measures the right things. The current model hits the target but misses the point. We measure rates of re-offending but this, by itself, is not enough. We should measure what matters long-term: whether people have a good place to live, good people around them, and a purpose – a long-term job or education that will stop them re-offending long term. Let’s begin to measure a reduction in needs: a move out of crisis to stability for both individuals and the system. By measuring how well we’re tackling the underlying causes of offending, we’ll positively impact on the rates of re-offending.