User Voice - Only Offenders Can Stop Re-Offending

Cabinet Office report highlights User Voice

The Role of Third Sector Innovation: Personalisation of health and social care and services to reduce re-offending

By Cabinet Office Advisor on Third Sector Innovation, Rt. Hon. Anne McGuire MP

The Cabinet Office Advisor on Third Sector Innovation was appointed in November 2008 to advise the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office Ministers on the third sector’s potential contribution to the personalisation of public services.

The Advisor has made a series of recommendations to Cabinet Office Ministers and colleagues across Government. These recommendations focus on translating the potential of the third sector to personalise services into a reality, to help improve health and social care outcomes and reduce re-offending.

The report, published today, highlighted that: “The Advisor acknowledges that models of involvement and levels of service user control need to take into account the context in which the criminal justice system operates. However, there is scope to build on existing good practice to improve the way that offenders, ex-offenders, their families and victims of crime inform interventions and the Offender Management model. For example, User Voice is piloting Prison Councils in three prisons and providing a forum for discussion with prisoners on a wide range of issues.”

User Voice in RSA Report

The Learning Prison

Aim of the Report

For over 250 years the RSA has been a source of ideas, innovation, thought leadership and social engagement for civic society.

The Learning Prison evaluates the recent advances that have been made in prison learning and skills and also suggests modernisation of prisons that is consistent with other public services.

The report suggests key principles for reform and argues for greater user engagement. The report highlights the need for leadership and inspiration both from government and practitioners in order to transform policy and prison politics. It argues for a ‘more positive and powerful vision’ of prisons which should be centred on some essential codes of reform.

The Report Findings – Why User Voice?

Although the government has a strategy for public sector reform, the engagement of users has not been fully utilised in the criminal justice system.

This is because user engagement in the prison system is perceived as dangerous. The report highlighted a recent User Voice survey. It found that governors thought prisoner inclusion less important than security and staff competency in the successful running of prisons.

A strategy of modernisation is necessary; one which proactively incorporates the tools and thinking we have at our disposal. The report commends the use of User Voice Prison Councils and recommends a national review commissioned by the LSC. Prison Councils provides a catalyst for expanding user engagement in prisons. As the report says, it benefits staff/prisoner relationships “by breaking down barriers and enabling dialogue”. Therefore participation of users in the delivery and design of prison services can be highly effective.

The report also highlights User Voice’s work in developing a model of good practice in relation to prison councils.

For the full report please follow this link

NPC report promotes User Voice

Trial and Error: Children and Young People in Trouble with the Law
A Guide for Charities and Funders

Aim of the Report

New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) is a think tank that aims to help funders and charities gain greater impact.

The report explores some of the issues surrounding youth crime and emphasises the pioneering and insightful work that charities do to keep crime figures down. It is aimed at both charities and funders and studies the youth justice sector’s strengths and weaknesses and how investment can have the best impact.

The Report Findings - Why User Voice?

Whilst the majority of charities work on crime prevention, there is an important role for charities to act as an independent source of research and analysis and as policy changers.

Participation has been put into place in other public services yet there is reluctance to do so within the criminal justice system. It is important to put the voices of ex-offenders at the centre of policy change. User Voice is highlighted in the report as leading the way in criminal justice. The report commends User Voice’s work of consulting with offenders on behalf of government, through councils within prisons and in the community with the aim of involving services users in the evaluation of the criminal justice system.

The report also stresses User Voice as an opportunity for funders interested in ‘user participation’. It says User Voice would benefit from funding as it could “ for a forum, or a discrete piece of research or evaluation that would be valuable to the sector.”

It concludes that although the challenges may be great, funding charities such as User Voice will help move policy in the right direction.

For the full report please follow this link.