Clinks, the umbrella organisation for voluntary sector groups working in the criminal justice sector, has produced its seventh State of the Sector report.

They say:

Key trends for voluntary sector organisations working in the criminal justice system

This is the seventh year that Clinks has conducted our State of the sector research looking at how voluntary organisations working with people in contact with the criminal justice system are faring. The findings give us a lot to celebrate, but the picture we’ve built up over the years shows there are a number of deep-seated and systemic challenges facing organisations. To ensure a vibrant, independent and resilient voluntary sector these need to be addressed.

We found that:

The people voluntary organisations support

  • Organisations continue to tell us that they are supporting increasing numbers of people
  • Organisations set up specifically to provide tailored support to, or have a tailored service for, people with protected characteristics are more likely to say service user numbers have risen
  • For the third year in a row, we found that service user need is becoming more complex and more urgent
  • Over a third of organisations continue to report that staff are having to take on larger caseloads to meet growing service user need
  • Organisations are increasing partnership work with other voluntary organisations to meet the growing complexity and urgency of service user need
  • Organisations continue to prioritise the involvement of service users in the design and delivery of services.

The services being delivered

  • The majority of organisations said they are expanding their services and doing so in a variety of ways
  • The majority of referrals to voluntary organisations’ services come from prisons
  • The workforce of voluntary organisations working in criminal justice is rising
  • Voluntary organisations working in criminal justice rely on volunteers
  • Larger organisations are more likely to be recruiting more volunteers.

How services are funded

  • Specialist criminal justice organisations remain smaller than non-specialist criminal justice organisations
  • Government is the largest source of income for organisations
  • Small specialist criminal justice organisations are more reliant on government grants than contracts
  • The smaller the organisation, the more reliant they are on grant funding from charitable trusts and foundations
  • For the third consecutive year we have found that organisations are subsidising contracts because they cannot achieve full cost recovery
  • Specialist criminal justice organisations receive more funding from local than central government
  • Organisations are increasing their earned income to adapt to reductions in grant funding
  • Criminal justice organisations spend more money on charitable activities and less on generating funds than the wider UK voluntary sector
  • Criminal justice organisations have less reserves on average than the UK voluntary sector as a whole.

The report includes a section with our key findings about organisations that provide tailored support to women.

In last year’s report, The state of the sector 2018, we made three commitments based on our findings. This report provides an update on the work we’ve undertaken to meet these commitments.

You can download a PDF version of the report from the Clinks website.