I have been hosting the North East Criminal Justice Forum for two years now and it is always difficult to ensure you get the correct balance between speakers, networking and discussion. I have tried half day sessions; themed forums; voluntary sector only and many more.
I think I have finally got the balance right. This latest forum was non-themed and had six speakers, which may seem a lot but it worked!
There were over 30 delegates from voluntary, statutory and academic organisations who were given the opportunity to hear about national policy updates; regional projects such as supporting care leavers; how the voluntary sector can feed into Durham and Cleveland Local Criminal Justice Partnership Board; and local work to support veterans and those with autism.
There was a real sense of the need for organisations to stop working in silos; if we are to ever change the system we must all work together. One of the biggest challenges raised was Universal Credit and access to bank accounts. It was acknowledged that DWP are extremely good at partnership working in the North East but many of the issues stem from national policy.
It is evident that there is a need for co-commissioning across sectors to try and develop local solutions to the problems. It is hoped that the changes to probation contracts will offer some opportunities for the sector and the clients they serve.
I do hope more of you will join me for the next Criminal Justice Forum on 10th July, 10am – 3pm in Gateshead.
Natalie Maidment, Clinks North East Development Officer