We asked, you told us. How we're doing at delivering Criminal Justice work in the North East

We recently undertook a survey to measure the impact of our work in the North East around Criminal Justice policy work. The results we received was really pleasing for me to know how much the work is valued by the voluntary sector.

Over the past 18 months we have:

  • Influenced commissioners, in particular Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to positively engage the voluntary sector. PCCs in the North East have committed to working more closely with the voluntary sector, improving engagement and providing community safety grants. We have supported the PCCs to hold a number of events including a voluntary sector forum in Durham and changes to victims’ services in Northumbria.
  • Provided regular communication to the sector through Clinks Light Lunch, VONNE’s ebulletin and a number of North East specific briefings, including guides to the criminal justice system East; and Transforming Rehabilitation.
  • Supported the sector to network and collaborate through regular events, focusing on women’s health inequalities; engagement with Police and Crime Commissioners; Transforming Rehabilitation; multiple and complex needs; and social enterprise in prisons.
  • Supported the development of Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) approach in Sunderland to improve outcomes for adults with multiple and complex needs.
  • Produced case studies of good practice in the North East to share locally and nationally to highlight highlighting the work of the voluntary sector working in housing, providing through the gate support; addressing rural youth crime and much more.
  • Developed a Directory of Voluntary Organisations’ working in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) in the North East
  • Carried out research to map the voluntary sector in the North East, producing the report ‘A snapshot from the North East: The voluntary sector working in criminal justice’.
  • Training delivered to support the sector to write winning bids in the CJS.

The Results

90% of respondents value the information dissemination. In the past I have added information to the VONNE ebulletin and Clinks Light Lunch, sending adhoc email updates when necessary. From July I am going to start to send a more formal monthly bulletin, provide North East specific criminal justice information including events; funding opportunities and briefings. Please let me know if you would like to be added to the distribution list by emailing natalie.maidment@vonne.org.uk  

One of the main aims of the partnership between Clinks and VONNE was to ensure the voluntary sector in the North East has more information about the criminal justice system. Our survey showed that 86% of respondents feel more informed about the CJS and the partnership has given them the opportunity to influence policy.

All respondents felt that the services we provide meet their needs very well. When asked what the sector would like us to focus on over the next year, respondents requested us to continue as we have been doing by providing regular information; networking events and training and commitment to supporting those with multiple and complex needs.

The biggest concerns for the voluntary sector for 2015 and beyond is:

  • Funding and impact of the cuts
  • Moving to large scale contracts
  • Transforming Rehabilitation / Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s)
  • Changes to Victims Services
  • Housing for Offenders
  • Mentoring Services for Young People

To address some of these issues we will be working with Funding Information North East to circulate funding opportunity to those working in the CJS. We will continue to work with the newly formed CRC’s to keep the sector informed about their delivery models and future opportunities for the sector.

PCCs are now responsible for commissioning local victim’s services. We are working closely with PCC’s in the North East to ensure the sector are able to respond to changes in victims’ commissioning.

We will continue to produce case studies showcasing the work of the voluntary sector in the North East. The survey shows that not everyone is aware of the case studies, we will be working to promote this further in the future. Those that have used them have said they are a valuable resource therefore we need to ensure they are more widely promoted.

Many respondents have contacted me directly for one to one support and advice. The sector value this level of support and I will continue to provide it. If you have good practice to share; are starting a new project and require some signposting and information or are interested to find out more about the CJS do get in touch and I will arrange to visit your service.