The Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales has awarded more than £2.5m in grants to 17 charities to help them make positive impacts on the criminal justice system.
The funding, which will be spread across three years, has gone to small charities and partnerships with specialist knowledge of the area, and which are working on changing policy and practice to improve the system on a local, regional or national scale.
The programme aims to combat issues such as overcrowding, staff shortages, assaults and self-harm, the failure of the privatisation of parts of the probation system and high reoffending rates.
The projects funded through the programme include those seeking to make the case for better alternatives to prison, to intervene earlier to prevent crime and reduce the number of people going to prison, to improve the treatment of groups disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system, such as BAME prisoners, young people and women, and to improve the way the prison and probation services work.
Charities awarded funding will seek to effect change at a local, regional or national level within five years.
Grant recipients include Maslaha, which campaigns against anti-Muslim discrimination. It was given £262,440 to challenge the unfair and discriminatory treatment many Muslims suffer in the prison system. The criminal justice charity Clinks received £285,000, the highest amount, to develop an influential sector voice and leadership for the voluntary sector.
The prisoner reintegration charity the Community Chaplaincy Association was awarded £43,200 in core funding, and the Criminal Justice Alliance was awarded £178,388 to influence policy-makers, commissioners and sentencers to increase the use of restorative justice and reparative community sentences and better meet the needs of young adult and BAME victims.
“The criminal justice system is facing huge challenges,” said Paul Streets, chief executive of the Lloyds Bank Foundation.
“Small specialist charities have had huge success in tackling reoffending, helping people turn lives around and preventing people from falling into a cycle of crime.
“Yet, despite their expertise and track records, charities are still not properly involved in how prisons and the probation service are funded and organised.
“At the start of this new government and parliament there is a clear need and chance to make changes to reform and improve the system.”