Clive Martin, director of Clinks, the umbrella body for charities that work with offenders, has announced that he will retire later this year.
Martin, who was Clinks’ first employee when it was set up in 1997 and has formally been its director since it became a charity in 1998, will stand down in the autumn, once a successor has been identified.
The charity said that Martin, who was a senior lecturer in community education before joining Clinks, had campaigned on the importance of the voluntary sector and pressed for improvements in the criminal justice system.
"Clive’s commitment to improving the way we support the most marginalised people and minority groups in our criminal justice system continues to drive Clinks’ vision, mission and values," a statement from the charity said.
Martin told the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector in 2012 that many voluntary organisations in the field of criminal justice were privately sceptical about government payment-by-results contracts but were "cautious about biting the hand that feeds them".
In a statement, Martin said: "Clinks has gone from a single-employee organisation with a determined set of trustees to the thriving and robust organisation it is today. It has been a remarkably enjoyable experience and I am really grateful and proud to have been a part of it.
"Clinks has a highly knowledgeable and skilled staff team who I know will support the new director to continue the great work we do for our members, the wider voluntary sector and the people in our communities who remain so marginalised".
Clinks said that Dame Anne Owers, chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the former chief inspector of prisons, had agreed to chair the charity for a further three years.