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Today marks a major step towards completing the government’s rehabilitation reforms. Following months of bidding and collaboration, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced the organisations that will manage 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs).

Contracts have been awarded across 20 regions in England and one in Wales with the aim of rehabilitating an estimated 200,000 low and medium risk offenders.

Naturally, we are pleased that the long-awaited publication has been made. Not surprisingly, 20 out of the 21 contract areas are going to be led as joint ventures between private sector organisations and rehabilitation charities.

As we understand, these organisations will work directly with offenders throughout their sentence and upon their release. For 12 months after release, the preferred bidders will work hard to help prevent offenders from re-offending whilst assisting them in making their lives more stable.

In the biggest change to the Probation Service in over 100 years, the government expects the new public/private approach to introduce particularly innovative rehabilitation schemes throughout England and Wales.

As we anticipated, half the chosen preferred bidders are what the MoJ refer to as "mutual" organisations set up by existing probation staff to take over their own organisations. The published list also includes 16 charities and voluntary organisations, four probation staff mutual, and 7 private companies.

The voluntary sector will play a vital role with 75% of the 300 subcontractors being from either the voluntary sector or "mutual" organisations.

The competition for each of the CRCs, as we understand it, was particularly strong with the MoJ reporting over a 1000 applicants. This is not surprising given the innovation we already know exists with the people we recruit.

We are delighted to hear that many of the successful proposals included a greater use of new technology to help staff manage their workflow and enhance offender supervision.

We look forward to hearing more from the MoJ on the broad range of new models for monitoring prisoners on release. Of particular interest is how specific offender groups, such as those with mental health concerns, are monitored and supported.

Exact measurements to monitor the performance of the preferred bidders was not included in today’s communication. However, what is clear is that providers will only be paid in full if they are successful.

This will ultimately see an even closer working relationship with the prison service. Resettlement prisons, which are also being introduced, will see offenders being managed by the same provider from when they enter prison to when they are released back into society.

Preferred bidders will also work directly with the National Probation Service, which will focus on protecting the public from high risk offenders.

Although final contracts have yet to be signed, it’s our understanding from the MoJ that the majority of preferred bidders will be delivering services early next year. We'll be tweeting as we know more #probationchanges.

To find out who the list of preferred bidders are and to hear more from the MoJ, visit
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/voluntary-sector-at-forefront-of-new-fight-against-reoffending

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