Serco Launches Pilot at HMP Doncaster to Reduce Re-offending with Turning Point and Catch22

News item posted: 19 June 2017

Serco has launched a new 'payment by results' pilot at HMP Doncaster which aims to reduce reoffending rates among former prisoners, as announced by the Secretary of State for Justice in March 2011.  The four-year scheme, developed in alliance with Serco's long-term voluntary sector and social enterprise partners - Catch22 and Turning Point - will deliver seamless rehabilitation services both within the prison and, for the first time, 'through the gate' in the community.

In a first for the UK prison sector, 10% of Serco's annual revenue will be contractually dependent on it achieving a five percentage point reduction in reconviction amongst offenders discharged from the prison in each year of the pilot. If former prisoners commit an offence in the year after their release then Serco's revenue will be affected.

It is estimated that if Serco achieves its 5% target more than 15,000 further offences per year could be avoided. This would not only deliver significant cost savings to the Government in terms of the time and money spent on each offender by the police, the courts, probation and the NHS, but also much wider social benefit in terms of a potential reduction in crime.

The pilot scheme has been designed so it can be adapted to meet the specific needs of individual offenders. The Ministry of Justice has facilitated this by providing Serco with the flexibility to make decisions at a local level and truly innovate to reduce reoffending. Serco has already integrated resettlement and the offender management unit within the prison to provide a joined-up approach to rehabilitation encompassing the 'through the gate' approach which is unique in terms of employed prison staff.

Offenders will now be allocated a dedicated Case Manager to support them for the duration of their sentence and crucially, on release. This is important as the majority of prisoners at Doncaster, having served sentences of 12 month or less, are not entitled to any statutory support on discharge meaning many fall back into a life of crime. They will offer advice and help on a range of practical matters such as employment options, housing and benefits through regular meetings at the prison and via phone calls and visits on discharge.
Offenders will also have access to a 24-hour helpline for support and guidance at any time.
The pilot builds on the strong foundations Serco has already put in place at Doncaster to reduce recidivism. Offenders have access to a wide range of programmes which aim to provide transferable skills and qualifications that offenders can use after they leave. For example, courses can be taken in computing, manufacturing, printing, catering and bricklaying, while drama workshops and sports aim to build confidence and a sense of self-worth.  Serco also run a successful Families First programme which supports fathers to develop and maintain ties with their families, something which has a proven affect on the likelihood of prisoners reoffending. This includes toddler mornings; Treasure Box, a scheme to help fathers reconnect with their children; and Daddy Newborn classes to introduce fathers to children born during their incarceration. HM Inspectorate of Prisons described this work as "among the best I have seen" in their last inspection report.

John Biggin, Director of Doncaster prison, said:
"Ex-offenders are most vulnerable in the first three months after release - they may have lost their homes and jobs and have little to return to. This is when they are most likely to reoffend, and why the support we can provide them with is so important. This innovative scheme, which we have developed with our voluntary sector and social enterprise partners, allows us to make decisions at a local level and target our resources to provide tailored support to offenders both inside the prison and, crucially, when they leave custody." 

Chris Wright, Chief Executive of Catch22 commented:

"We know that the period from prison to community is critical in an offender's life. Our Case Managers will be focused on providing a quality service both inside and outside the prison system that offers the consistency of support needed back in the community. This will include housing and accommodation advice, routes to employment, education and training as well as restoring links with family and other supportive networks such as the use of volunteer mentors."

 Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of Turning Point added:
"We are pleased to be working as part of an alliance with Serco and Catch22, in order to meet the individual needs of those within the criminal justice system and thereby reduce reoffending.  All partners bring something different to the table with Turning Point's own experience based around supporting those with the most complex needs. Our belief is that this new model of delivery will benefit offenders by addressing behaviours and challenges, joining up needs; and coordinating support around issues such as physical health, mental health, substance misuse, employment and housing."

The pilot is one of six announced in the Government's 'Breaking the Cycle' Green Paper last December.   At the end of the four-year trial at HMP Doncaster, the Ministry of Justice will evaluate the findings of the pilot and use this to inform their wider plans for a payment by results.

Serco has run HMP & YOI Doncaster since it opened in June 1994. Serco successfully rebid the contract to continue running the prison for another ten years in August 2000, and again in March 2011 for a further 15 years.