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Tuesday 24 April 2018

Building VCS Involvement in IOM: Supplement 2 - Overview of the programme: Building VCS Involvement in IOM

Version: Tk/C/11/1.0

Author: Clinks

April 2012

1. Background to Voluntary and Community Sector involvement in Integrated Offender Management

1.1 Historical factors:

  • Community Safety Partnerships (CSP) took on a broader accountability and reducing reoffending in their local areas became a statutory responsibility from April 2010, with Probation Trusts becoming statutory partners within the CSPs.

  • Prior to that, individual Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations working with offenders were encouraged to build relationships with Probation Areas, Regional NOMS Commissioners, or individual prison establishments, all thematically focused on the Reducing Reoffending Pathways. CJS commissioners likewise did not have a particularly local focus and their relationship with local VCS providers was therefore sporadic.

  • A recent Clinks survey (responses from 196 VCS organisations) thus revealed 48% working with their CSPs but 52% not.


1.2 Integrated Offender Management and the VCS:

  • The recent development of local Integrated Offender Management (IOM) approaches, as a means of working intensively in partnership across agency boundaries with the most prolific and high priority offenders in local communities, has highlighted a gap in local engagement by statutory partners with VCS organisations.

  • Although IOM arrangements have been different in every local area across England and Wales, typically they bring together agencies engaged in local CJS partnerships (Police, Probation, Prisons) and other key statutory partners such as Local Authorities as well as VCS organisations, to reduce reoffending. Their target group includes those released after serving sentences of less than twelve months who are not subject to any statutory supervision by their local Probation Trust.

  • Levels of VCS involvement in IOM have varied considerably from place to place. A 2009 NOMS- commissioned evaluation of IOM engagement with the VCS in four of the IOM pioneer areas found only limited engagement with the VCS in three of the four areas.1 VCS organisations were typically being engaged with sporadically only as referral partners, rather than as full delivery partners or strategic/managerial partners.


1.3 The potential role of Local Support and Development Organisations2:

  • Local Support and Development Organisations (LSDOs) such as Councils for Voluntary Service appear well placed to play a key role in overcoming these difficulties and enabling VCS involvement in local IOM arrangements both operationally and strategically, but historically they may have played little part in the work of the CJS.3

  • By mid-2010 there had however been some positive experiences, such as Clink’s South West Development Project and through national partnership work with NAVCA, of supporting LSDOs to move into this new area of work.4

  • In preliminary discussions of this project with the Home Office between June and August 2010, one of the perceived aims was therefore to explore the potential role of LSDOs in facilitating and brokering local VCS involvement in IOM.



2. The Home Office / Clinks Project

2.1 Project start-up

  • As the national umbrella body for voluntary organisations working with offenders, Clinks was invited to work in partnership with the Home Office between 1st September 2010 and 31st March 2011, to strengthen the role of the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) in Integrated Offender Management (IOM) in four selected ‘development and demonstration’ areas of the country:

    • Bournemouth, Dorset & Poole

    • Croydon

    • Gloucestershire

    • Leeds

  • The Home Office allocated a grant fund of £500,000 to support this work, to be managed by Clinks and spent by the end of March 2011. Although the timescale for the project was extremely challenging, it represented a highly innovative approach within the Home Office to project funding, in that Clinks was empowered to develop and implement its own grant application and award processes without direct oversight by the Home Office, although regular steering group meetings were convened by the Home Office over the course of the project to check on progress.

  • Crucially, it was stipulated by the Home Office that grants could only be awarded to projects clearly led by local VCS organisations. Statutory IOM partners needed to give their support to the VCS-led proposals, but could not hold or allocate the funds or direct the work undertaken. The Home Office was keen to use this mechanism to give the VCS a greater share of power, and to see whether it enabled the VCS to develop a more equal role in strategic local IOM management

  • An independent evaluation of the project was commissioned by the Home Office from Sheffield Hallam University.5


2.2 Project outcomes and principles

  • • By 31st March 2011, the four selected areas were expected to show that they had achieved enhanced VCS involvement in local IOM arrangements, demonstrated by one or more of the following outcomes:

    • greater involvement from the VCS in working with offenders;

    • an increased level of VCS input into IOM arrangements;

    • better linkages between VCS and statutory sector partners to implement IOM;

    • involvement of smaller VCS organisations that had not so far engaged with the criminal justice agenda;

    • greater user involvement in decisions about services and support;

    • greater community engagement and involvement in identified neighbourhoods;

    • more local people involved in volunteering/mentoring/advising; and

    • reduced re-offending.

  • Areas were also be expected to show:

    • that relevant VCS and key stakeholders within IOM arrangements had been fully engaged in the process of identifying priorities and developing and implementing the plans set out in the submission;

    • how they had engaged with specific local needs in relation to ethnicity / culture, disability and gender (either in the offender population groups or wider community).



2.3 Grant applications and awards

  • The project was actively promoted to potential VCS and statutory IOM partners in the four agreed localities in September 2010, and Clinks provided support to partners in submitting their bids including preliminary local meetings, the provision of written guidance on the grant criteria and application process, and a workshop in each area mid-way through the bid timetable to give early feedback on draft proposals.

  • Local consortium approaches were encouraged, and in fact the VCS partners in all four areas readily collaborated to submit a single consortium bid from each location, incorporating a range of different VCS-led work strands. Despite the very tight timescales, all the applications were received by 15th October 2010.

  • Clinks set up a grants panel that included very experienced charitable trust funders to consider the grant applications. Grants were awarded according to the key criteria and principles agreed with the Home Office, and then released quickly by Clinks to enable partners to start work promptly from 1st November 2010. Some unspent funds were later allocated to proposed work strands that the panel felt required further development, or to enable some particularly innovative work, e.g. locally held small grant funds, to be expanded. Over the course of the project, the total funding allocated was £496,557.

  • The local partnership work for the project was facilitated and coordinated in three of the four areas by LSDOs, namely: Bournemouth & Poole Councils for Voluntary Service and Dorset Community Action; Croydon Voluntary Action; Gloucestershire Association for Voluntary and Community Action (GAVCA) and Gloucestershire Assembly (the county’s VCS Forum). In the fourth area, partners identified West Yorkshire Community Chaplaincy Project as the local VCS lead, because of that organisation’s key role in the development of a new Leeds Forum for the VCS in the Criminal Justice System.

  • A wide range of work was funded within each area, which included:

    • Building strategic partnerships: Mapping local VCS provision with the potential to support / engage within local IOM arrangements; building active e-networks; establishing VCS Fora; electing and training VCS representatives for Strategic Boards and Community Safety Partnerships; developing a Commissioning Framework.

    • Capacity building the VCS to engage with local IOM arrangements: Offering training for VCS organisations to work with offenders managed under IOM arrangements as volunteers; training workers in statutory agencies to recruit and support their own volunteers; establishing small grants funds to enable small, diverse grassroots community organisations to work with operational teams within IOM arrangements and engage with offenders managed under IOM arrangements; providing ‘market place’ opportunities for VCS and key stakeholders to network and make links.

    • Developing new opportunities for volunteering with and by offenders: Providing training and brokerage for mentoring ofoffenders under IOM arrangements, including peer mentoring; offering small grants for VCS organisations to develop new volunteering opportunities for offenders managed under IOM arrangements.

    • Involving service users: Establishing a user reference group to inform IOM planning and delivery; involving ex-offenders in the production of a DVD to highlight their experiences of resettlement.

    • Exploring the potential for local social action to increase capacity within IOM arrangements and responsiveness in very dispersed rural communities: Raising awareness and assessing potential among rural community groups.

    • Developing innovative VCS service approaches to meet the identified needs of offenders managed under IOM arrangements: Establishing a multi-agency ‘hub’ at the gate of HMP Leeds to offer ‘wrap-around’ services tailored to the needs of priority prisoners returning to Leeds; a new court-based assessment and referral service for women entering the CJS; feasibility studies for social enterprises providing training and work opportunities for offenders under IOM arrangements; piloting of a brief family interventions programme for offenders managed under IOM arrangements and their families.



2.4 Supporting delivery

  • Clinks maintained supportive contact with all four areas throughout the period of the project. Wherever possible Clinks staff attended local steering group meetings and participated in the areas’ final partnership events / conferences.



2.5 Outcomes and sustainability

  • All four areas worked incredibly hard to drive their work streams forward and feel they achieved extremely positive outcomes and made significant strides in their learning about partnership working and innovation. The outputs / outcomes achieved by each project are briefly summarised in the table at Appendix 1.

  • It would appear that, in different ways, all four projects achieved the enhanced VCS involvement in IOM arrangements that the Home Office was seeking (see section 2.2).

  • At the end of the funded project, VCS partners were clearly very concerned about the sustainability of the innovative services for offenders that they had worked so hard to drive forward, although a surprising number have subsequently been finding ways to continue (as summarised in Appendix 1). Nonetheless all felt overwhelmingly positive about the programme and what it had enabled them to do. They were highly appreciative of the support they were receiving from key stakeholders at both senior and operational levels, and felt that partnership working had been significantly advanced in their areas.

  • A number of partners have repeated that being given a leading role in the project has greatly enhanced local VCS credibility with statutory partners and this is having many other spin-offs in terms of the potential for wider joint working.

  • In terms of strategic partnership working, all four areas have now established VCS e-networks and/or Fora to enable regular communication between statutory CJS partners and all the local voluntary, community and user-led organisations / groups that have voiced an interest in working with offenders and their families. Systems have been put in place to enable an accountable VCS representation on key CJS strategic boards and partnerships, and this should provide a lasting legacy for local IOM arrangements and wider local partnership working in the CJS.



2.6 What, with hindsight, could have been done differently?

  • Overall, VCS partners have viewed the project very positively. Nonetheless, all have commented in their reports on things that, with hindsight, impacted on VCS involvement and could perhaps have been managed differently.

  • All four areas have commented that, although the tight timetable for applications undoubtedly galvanised partners into action, there was too little time available to reflect together on how to maximize the impact of the funding or to involve a wider range of agencies. A three month lead in time (i.e. with the application process starting in early August rather than in mid-September 2010) would therefore have been more productive for a November 2010 project start date.

  • This lack of planning time also meant that partners had little opportunity to think through some key issues (e.g. the suitability of the location proposed for the 6th Hub at HMP Leeds) and needed to react / learn as they went along. There was little opportunity to build induction / awareness sessions into the early stages of the work, and these gaps in mutual understanding between the sectors hampered operational progress and had to be addressed in an ad hoc way as the projects progressed.

  • Statutory partners in particular had little time to consider the internal changes that would be required to truly develop partnerships with the VCS, particularly during a period of great structural change. For many partners, this meant that real progress in partnership / service delivery terms was only really evident from late January 2011.

  • In all four areas, each partner agency allocated a strategic lead to oversee the project work for their own organisation. All the strategic leads appear to have worked well together and ensured effective communication between partners. However, some pieces of work such as the development of the 6th Hub at HMP Leeds would probably have benefited from the identification of one person to oversee all strategic leads and take overall project management responsibility. In the Hub in particular, this was a difficult role for the VCS lead agency to fulfil, given the very particular technical and operational issues involved for the statutory partners.

  • The Home Office’s payment of the grant in two instalments (early November 2010 and late January 2011) made it difficult for the areas administering small grants programmes to disburse grants to recipients in a timely manner. Given the short timescale of the project, a single grant payment in November 2010 might have been more helpful.

  • The amount of additional capacity required to participate in the evaluation of the project was unknown / underestimated at the start of the project. This in fact proved very time consuming for partners, especially for VCS leads who had to coordinate attendance at evaluation meetings by both VCS and statutory partners.



Key learning from the project

  • Statutory IOM partners in all four areas have commented on the flexibility and readiness of the VCS to innovate at speed, when given the opportunity to lead. To some extent it has proved difficult for statutory partners engaged in local IOM arrangements, no matter how committed and supportive, to match that speed of development in their own established in-house systems, given existing bureaucratic structures and the time needed to brief staff on new services and to develop appropriate referral and information sharing processes. There are also some concerns that Offender Managers’ awareness of the potential of the VCS to support their work has been raised at a time when that engagement may be hard to sustain, either because of funding difficulties or the current changes within police, probation and prison services.

  • Statutory partners have all appreciated very much the brokerage roles that knowledgeable and committed Local Support and Development Organisations, or leading VCS organisations, have played in terms of both strategic partnership work and local signposting/referral to VCS services. Ongoing discussions are taking place in all four areas to explore what elements of this brokerage work it may be possible to sustain beyond the project period, although the current financial climate presents further challenges for this.

  • Partners in Croydon and in Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole (BDP) have highlighted the importance of the small grants pots that they have administered locally as part of their work streams, and their capacity to unlock community goodwill and generate a wide range of local resources to support work with offenders, all at very low cost.

  • In BDP the grants were focused on capacity building VCS organisations to work with offenders as volunteers and to develop local volunteering and mentoring services. Some quite inspirational schemes have been started by VCS organisations with little historical connection with the CJS. For example, Dorset Reclaim, a recycling charity that had previously worked with several offenders on Community Payback, used a small grant to establish a dedicated wood recycling workshop where offenders managed under local IOM arrangements can undertake supervised voluntary work and acquire skills to make items such as bird boxes, picnic tables etc. Because the wood is donated and items made are sold, the workshop can now continue to operate as a self-supporting social enterprise.

  • In Croydon, small grants of up to £2,000 were used flexibly to enable small, diverse, groups to start to engage with IOM arrangements and other CJS services and to encourage self-help approaches by offenders and ex-offenders. Examples of grants awarded include:

    • £2,000 to Kreative Education Solution, to hold business and enterprise sessions for ex- offenders and those at risk of offending;

    • £2,000 to Heathfield Ecology Centre, to involve ex-offenders in building pergolas and archways at the Centre;

    • £1,999 to Mighty Men of Valour, to develop a toolkit and DVD on the topic “Your Sperm, Your Responsibility”, to support ex-offenders in being good fathers;

    • £1,935 to F.W.P. Hibiscus, to fund two specialist information meetings at HMP Holloway to identify and interview migrant women needing support on release, accompany them to Croydon and attend Border Agency meetings in Croydon;

    • £2,000 to Croydon Black Boys Can, to fund two workshops for parents and their sons, targeting young boys at serious risk of gang activity / offending.

    • The Croydon Women’s Court worker was also allocated a small grant budget of £2,000 which enabled her to respond very flexibly to the needs of women by spot-purchasing personalised service from small, local community groups that would not otherwise be able to offer support, e.g. from a women’s counselling service or local family support project. This was thought to be a highly effective use of a modest resource.

  • On 15th March 2011 Clinks convened a final workshop to bring multi agency partners from all four areas together, to share what they had learned about building and sustaining innovative VCS involvement in IOM arrangements, and consider how they could build on that learning. Their top four learning points / recommendations, prioritised by delegates, were as follows:

    • Involving the VCS in service delivery MUST feature in the strategic plans of Partnerships and Trusts.

    • Local Infrastructure Organisations can play important roles as “brokers” to guide case managers around services available from the VCS. Not all services that offenders need are labelled as services for offenders, and a local broker will know what else is available.

    • Central government has a responsibility to remove barriers to information sharing that are an unintended consequence of the Data Protection Act etc. We need a simple template / guidance to which we can all sign up as a minimum standard.

    • Find people who will JUST DO IT (i.e. take innovative approaches to VCS service delivery / engagement / partnership work) and not use politics and bureaucracy as an excuse for inaction.




Clinks and the Home Office would like to express thanks to all the staff from the four programme areas who assisted in the production of these resources by reviewing drafts, suggesting amendments, and contributing additional materials. We are also grateful for the opportunity to draw on the practice learning from the evaluation of Building Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Involvement in Integrated Offender Management, undertaken by the Hallam Centre for Community Justice at Sheffield Hallam University.



Author and editorial group

The resources were drafted by Lesley Frazer, Policy Manager at Clinks. The Home Office editorial group overseeing their production included Bernard Lane and Sule Kangulec of the Reducing Reoffending Unit.



Feedback or further information

If you have any feedback on the resources, are seeking further information about the programme, or would like to share your own advice/experiences on involving VCS organisations in IOM arrangements, please contact:

Lesley Frazer, Clinks -

Bernard Lane, Home Office -




© Clinks and Home Office, 2012



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1 Kevin Wong & Christopher Hartworth. 2009 Integrated Offender Management and Third Sector Engagement: Case studies of four pioneer sites. Online: [Last accessed 24/1/12]
2 LSDO: Local Support and Development Organisation – a charitable body such as a Council for Voluntary Service that typically provides a range of support services for all the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations within its area. These might include help with organisational development, funding advice, training, and co-ordinating the sector’s engagement with and representation on local strategic groupings such as the Local Strategic Partnership. Many LSDOs have Volunteer Centres attached to them.
3 See: [Last accessed 24/1/12]
4 NAVCA is the national infrastructure organisation supporting LSDOs. NAVCA’s “Supporting Work with Offenders project”, based at NAVCA and supported by Clinks 2008-2011, was designed to offer LSDOs the information and resources required to enable them to effectively support frontline organisations that work with offenders, ex-offenders and their families. See: [Last accessed 24/1/12
5 Kevin Wong, Caroline O’Keeffe, Linda Meadows, Joanna Davidson, Hayden Bird, Katherine Wilkinson & Paul Senior. 2012. Increasing the voluntary and community sector’s involvement in Integrated Offender Management. Online: [Last accessed 14/03/2012



1.Bournemouth, Dorset & Poole (BDP)

Lead VCS Agency: Bournemouth Council for Voluntary Service
Other VCS Partners: Poole Council for Voluntary Service; Dorset Community Action; Bournemouth & Poole Volunteer Centres; Dorset Volunteer Centre


Building VCS Involvement in IOM Supplement 1 - table 1.jpg

2.London Borough of Croydon: New Routes

Lead VCS Agency: Croydon Voluntary Action (CVA) in conjunction with a wide range of VCS agencies


Building VCS Involvement in IOM Supplement 1 - table 2.jpg


Lead VCS Agency: Gloucestershire Association for Voluntary & Community Action (GAVCA)
Other VCS Delivery Partners: See below


Building VCS Involvement in IOM Supplement 1 - table 3.jpg


Lead VCS Agency: West Yorkshire Community Chaplaincy Project (WYCCP)
Other VCS Delivery Partners: Foundation, plus up to 28 VCS organisations that have expressed interest in working with the Hub and / or participating in a new Leeds Crime Reduction Forum


Building VCS Involvement in IOM Supplement 1 - table 4.jpg