Justice Data Lab extended for a year

Initiative from the Ministry of Justice, launched last April, gives sector groups access to data about reoffending

Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Justice

A Ministry of Justice initiative that gives voluntary and community sector groups access to data about reoffending has been extended for another year.

The Justice Data Lab was launched in April 2013 to help smaller charities win probation service contracts as part of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. 

The service enables organisations that work with offenders to access central reoffending data, which helps them assess and demonstrate the effectiveness of their work in reducing reoffending.

Jeremy Wright, the justice minister, announced on Monday that a partnership led by Clinks, the umbrella body for charities that work with offenders, will receive a £720,000 grant to help smaller voluntary organisations get involved in the rehabilitation reforms, including those that specialise in rehabilitating specific groups of offenders, such as women, those from black and ethnic minority communities and those with learning disabilities.

The one-year grant will start in April, covering the period during which the government’s reforms are being rolled out.

An MoJ spokeswoman said the funding would come from rehabilitation policy budgets and was announced in February along with other grants to support voluntary organisations that are interested in delivering offender rehabilitation services.

Organisations including the chief executives body Acevo and the Wales Council for Voluntary Action are involved in the Clinks partnership.

The government’s reforms include a new and refocused public sector national probation service for the most dangerous offenders and 21 community rehabilitation companies that will work with medium and low-risk offenders in England and Wales.

Private and voluntary sector organisations will work together to run the CRCs and the competition for preferred bidders is under way.

The MoJ said 830 organisations had expressed an interest in taking part, including 575 voluntary and community sector organisations, and registration was still open.

"We have always been clear that we want the voluntary sector to play a major role in our reforms of rehabilitation," said Wright. "They have a wealth of experience and knowledge in tackling the high reoffending rates, which see more than 500,000 crimes committed each year by those who have broken the law before."

David Pritchard, head of measurement and evaluation at the think tank New Philanthropy Capital, said he hoped that other government departments would consider setting up similar data-sharing initiatives.

"It is imperative that all organisations working to bring down high reoffending rates can share detailed, accurate data and evaluation," he said. "The Justice Data Lab will help to achieve exactly this, so that charities can demonstrate where their work has the greatest impact and the government can commission services confident about where real differences are being made on the ground."

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