ERSA’s Response to the Prisons Strategy White Paper

In response to the Prisons Strategy White Paper, ERSA welcomes the increased spending and focus on education, skills and employment support for prisoners throughout their sentences.

The promises of a new Prisoner Education Service, more opportunities for work whilst in prison and on Release on Temporary Licence, Resettlement Passports, and the chance to engage with a DWP Prison Work Coach are all encouraging steps that could potentially go some of the way to address long withstanding issues within the criminal justice system.

As only 14% of prison leavers are in employment six months following release, the willingness to build stronger links with employers, particularly those with skills shortages, will hopefully increase job prospects for prison leavers and help them into stable employment following their release.

Furthermore, the rollout of ‘Employment Hubs’ and dedicated Employment Advisers, in a more digitalised and technologically advanced prison, will upskill prisoners and could help tackle skill gaps in local areas upon their release.

However, the promise of an investment of £200 million a year by 2024-25, some of which will go towards employment support, is nothing compared to the £4 billion being spent into expanding the already over-crowded prison population by 18,000 people.

Despite this, many of the proposals made in the White Paper are promising and we hope, on behalf of ERSA members, that they are delivered with the right amount of funding and support to be successful.

Further information:

MP Sally-Ann Hart welcomes new service in Hastings

PIN: Creating Opportunities Forum Programme

Interventions Alliance to provide new Ministry of Justice rehab services aimed at reducing reoffending across four English regions

GFSL CRED programme helps ex-offenders into work

Justice and Rehabilitation Forum


MP Sally-Ann Hart welcomes new service in Hastings

Hastings and Rye MP Sally-Ann Hart has visited a new service which provides a safe and supportive space to help individuals move away from crime and reintegrate back into society.

Interventions Alliance, part of the employee owned Seetec Group, which is running the service, was delighted to welcome Sally-Ann Hart to its service hub in Hastings on 23rd July.

The newly launched Co-financing organisations (CFO) Activity Hubs offer support to individuals who are on their rehabilitation journey, helping them move away from a life of crime and to reintegrate back into their local community.

Interventions Alliance was awarded the Co-financing Organisation (CFO) Activity Hubs across three English regions, South East, North West and South West at the end of last year. The Hastings site is a satellite to the South East service, offering tailored support, advice, and guidance, as well as the chance to interact with positive role models and peers at a similar stage of their resettlement journey.

Speaking of her visit, Sally-Ann Hart MP said:

“Rehabilitation is an essential aspect of the criminal justice system. Punishment alone does not reduce reoffending rates as many people processed within the criminal justice system have underlying factors or vulnerabilities that can make them prone to offending. Rehabilitation makes sense not only from a human perspective, but also from an economic perspective and I really welcome this CFO Activity Hub, here in Hastings, which will help local offenders move away from a life of crime and reintegrate back into our local community. Whilst the past cannot be changed, hope is a powerful force for everyone.”

As an established provider of high-quality public services, Interventions Alliance believes that no one should be left behind. Offenders are one group in our society that can sometimes feel they are forgotten. CFO Activity Hubs will deliver targeted interventions to improve the support provided to one of the hardest-to-reach groups in our society.

Claire Jones, Deputy Director of Service Delivery Interventions Alliance continued:

“We were delighted to be able to show Sally-Ann our service which is up and running in Hastings. The CFO Activity Hubs will provide a safe and supportive space for those on probation license or supervision orders to develop plans to move forward.

“Working in partnership with specialist organisations, we are helping individuals in the criminal justice system to build a better future through tailored support, advice and guidance, as they progress on their rehabilitation journey.
“The work will positively benefit our communities by equipping participants with the necessary skills needed to stop offending and successfully contribute to their local communities.”
Intervention Alliance is committed to putting offenders at the heart of their own rehabilitation journey, combining skills training, employability services and practitioner expertise, all of which aims to move individuals into a crime-free life. The business is already experienced at delivering probation services by supporting 19,100 people with convictions each year on their journeys away from crime.

The CFO is part funded by the European Social Fund and is also in operation in Manchester, Liverpool and Warrington, Bristol, and Chatham.

PIN: Creating Opportunities Forum Programme

Gov uk Home Office Logo

The objective of the Creating Opportunities Forum is to empower and support young people at risk of serious violence to be able to access employment-related opportunities and help them develop the skills they need to make a successful transition into work.

Employment-related opportunities and skills-based activities would be provided by employers in 12 geographical areas which have been selected by the Home Office. In its role, the national provider will deliver wraparound support to the young people participating in the programme to ensure they are able to engage with and benefit from the employment-related opportunities on offer. The programme will run until the end of March 2023.

Critical success factors should include offering positive opportunities to develop aspirations and skills, and demonstrable progress in the distance travelled on the journey towards employment for the young people participating in the programme. The young people engaged should be those at risk of being involved in violence. The supplier shall be required to provide evidence of specific employment-related and skills-based activities, the support provided to the young people to access and engage in them, and how undertaking these activities supported their journey towards work.

In advance of launching a formal procurement, the Home Office is issuing a Prior Information Notice (PIN) and undertaking Pre-Tender Market Engagement (PTME) to inform the market of this impending opportunity; understand the capabilities, opportunities and potential constraints of the market in delivering our requirements; and using the experience and expertise of potential suppliers to improve and refine the draft requirements.

As part of PTME, the Home Office will be hosting a virtual Supply Day from 1400 on Thursday 3 June 2021. This will give potential Suppliers the opportunity to meet the Home Office programme team; gain further insight into our overarching objectives and requirements; and discuss and clarify any aspect of the draft requirements.

Value excluding VAT: £2,600,000

More details of the proposed procurement including a draft statement of requirements is available to download to suppliers registered at the Home Office’s e-Sourcing Portal:

Interventions Alliance to provide new Ministry of Justice rehab services aimed at reducing reoffending across four English regions

Picture of Suki Binning, the Group’s Chief Social Worker and Executive Director of Justice and Social Care at Interventions Alliance

Interventions Alliance will provide support to a number of the 89,000 offenders the probation service currently supervises across these regions each year. The contracts include education, training and employment, accommodation, and personal wellbeing support. The aim is to decrease offenders’ motivation to commit crime in future, boosting their chances of securing a job or finding a suitable place to live. 

Working with national criminal justice charities the Forward Trust and Prison Advice and Care Trust (PACT) to deliver the new personal wellbeing support services in Kent and Cheshire, Interventions Alliance will look at the social care challenges that prevent offenders from making more progress on their rehabilitation journey. The focus will be on rebuilding their family ties, limiting the negative influence of their peers involved in crime, and engaging them in targeted pro-social activities. There will also be courses aimed at building offenders’ parenting skills and relationships with their children through the personal wellbeing contracts Interventions Alliance has secured.

Employment provides structure in an ex-offender’s life, helping them reintegrate back into society after exiting the criminal justice system, but many of these individuals face barriers to getting a job. The Department of Education reports that more than three in five (62%) people entering prison were assessed as having a reading age of 11 or lower—over three times higher than in the general adult population (15%). A YouGov survey commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions in 2016 found that half of employers automatically reject applicants with a criminal record.

In the year to March 2018, one in seven people who left prison were homeless. This increased to more than one in five people serving a prison sentence of less than six months. Finding suitable accommodation after release unlocks other important areas of an offender’s life that can hold them back from fulfilling their potential, such as finding work, accessing treatment for addictions and mental ill-health – all of which can further reduce an individual’s likelihood of reoffending. 

These new services will support the Government’s aim to address the £18.1 billion annual cost of reoffending each year as finding more offenders a job or a safe place to live can help to halve reoffending rates.

Suki Binning, the Group’s Chief Social Worker and Executive Director of Justice and Social Care at Interventions Alliance, said:

“At Interventions Alliance, we believe that no one should be left behind in the criminal justice system. These new services are an opportunity to deliver targeted interventions to improve the outcomes for offenders who are far too often overlooked by society. 

“Finding a job or a place to live are crucial steps forward as an ex-offender looks to rebuild their life after release. The truth is that many ex-offenders face barriers to making more progress as they continue on their rehabilitation journey.

“Some of the key factors that contribute to the reasons why people are trapped in a pattern of reoffending are poor social environments and poverty. Addressing these factors through targeted support helps individuals to turn a corner on their criminal past and benefits society in the long run.

“Promoting and protecting the wellbeing of ex-offenders, helping them rebuild family ties and new circles of support will provide more structure in their lives. This holistic approach has wide-ranging benefits for individuals, their families and society as a whole. We know the risk of becoming an offender starts early in life and is linked strongly with social exclusion and mental ill-health. The interventions we will provide not only reap health and social benefits for offenders’ families, but they will also be a positive step forward in helping to reduce the number of victims of crime in the future.”

Part of the employee-owned Seetec Group, Interventions Alliance is an evidence-led provider of public services, bridging the gap between the justice and social care sectors to build better futures and improve wellbeing. The organisation is experienced at supporting 19,100 offenders each year as they progress on their rehabilitation journeys through its four probation services in Wales and the South of England. 

Seetec Group, through its employability and health pillar (Seetec Pluss) has also just been awarded the Department for Work and Pensions Restart contract for South West England. This contract starting in June 2021, will empower 106,000 people over the next four years to break down any barriers that might be holding them back from finding employment. Restart is a brand-new government programme that will support thousands of people who have been out of work and claiming Universal Credit for at least 12 months to build confidence, skills and find work. It is part of the Government’s wider “Plan for Jobs”’ to help people who have lost their jobs because of COVID-19 to get back on the road to recovery.


Notes to Editor 

Interventions Alliance will deliver the following commissioned rehabilitation services to the Probation Service in each region:

  • South East: Education, Training and Employment (Kent, Surrey and Sussex); Accommodation (Kent, Surrey and Sussex); and The Personal Wellbeing (Kent) contract.
  • South West: Education, Training and Employment; and
  • Accommodation contract.
  • East of England: Education, Training and Employment; and Accommodation contract.
  • North West: Accommodation; and The Personal Wellbeing contract (Cheshire).

Find out how Interventions Alliance has helped to break the cycle of offending by a prolific offender by finding him a place to live here. You can also read how the service has helped a previously unemployed ex-offender to secure a construction job, here

Watch a short video about Interventions Alliance, here.

About Seetec 

Seetec is an employee-owned business group committed to supporting an economic and social recovery from COVID-19 that is built around the principles of inclusion and opportunity. Its vision is to create an inclusive society where individuals, employers and communities across all the regions of the UK and Ireland can thrive and fulfil their potential. 

Originally founded in 1984, Seetec is a leading provider of employment, skills, justice and social care services. In 2020, Seetec supported 125,000 people through its Employability and Health, Irish, Justice and Skills business divisions:

  • A newly launched division called Interventions Alliance, which works within the criminal justice system and social care sector to deliver evidence-led solutions that aim to help people build better futures and wellbeing.
  • Its Employability and Health division is, through Seetec Pluss, a prime provider of the Government’s Work and Health Programme and the JETS (Job Entry Targeted Support) scheme which is targeted at helping those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Pluss, an award-winning independent Community Interest Company that provides specialist support to inspire people of all abilities to achieve work and a career, forms a key part of this division too. It is a social enterprise working to ensuring nobody is left behind in our society.
  • The Skills division offers adult education budget (AEB) opportunities, apprenticeships and traineeships. Through its new strategy, the division aims to provide a wrap-around service in regions to support individuals, communities, sectors and businesses to succeed. Last year the division launched Innovion, backed by leading engineering, manufacturing and technology businesses, to deliver high quality technical training and apprenticeships. 
  • Seetec Ireland delivers Job Path, the Irish Government’s main job activation programme which supports the long-term unemployed to achieve their work ambitions across Dublin, West, North and North West, Midlands and North East regions.

The business group currently holds an Ofsted inspection rating of ‘Good’, it is B Corp certified and has achieved the Gold Investors in People Award which only the top seven per cent of accredited organisations across the UK receive. With a workforce of over 2,500, it has an Employee Council and an Employee Trustee Director within its employee ownership structure, who support and work with the senior leadership to influence the direction of the business group which is committed to delivering first-class public and related commercial services.

For more information visit or follow Seetec on Twitter: @SeetecInspire

GFSL CRED programme helps ex-offenders into work

CRED (Clean Rehabilitative Enabling and Decent) enables ex-offenders to join purposeful work placements which lead to full time work and financial independence. This significantly reduces the reoffending rate.

The aim of CRED is to engage residents in work that improves their skills, confidence and employability. It also contributes to a more decent environment in the prison.

The skilled placements and mentorship are geared to residents being offered permanent work on completion of their sentence.

Despite the year-long pandemic, twenty GFSL sites continue to drive the CRED programme, involving over 240 residents. The trades include plumbers, electricians and carpenters. Others join the scheme and gain recognised qualifications from nearby colleges during their sentence.

Notable examples include HMP Hollesley Bay, when COVID absences left GFSL with no electricians able to report for work.

Helena Butler, Justice Solutions Manager said:

During those times, we relied on the dedicated CRED team and knowledge of the electricians we employ through CRED, stepping to assist, otherwise we’d have struggled to maintain service on site.

Not only did we maintain service but we saved £250 per day on hiring external contractors.

Meanwhile the list of success stories at HMP Coldingley include an ex-offender who became a valued part of the GFSL workforce. With full technical and welfare support from CRED, he was offered full time work on his release last year.

One graduate of the CRED scheme commented:

I am thankful for the opportunity I had with GFSL to work alongside their team on a day-to-day basis whilst a resident at Coldingley. I felt part of a team and treated as an equal in terms of completing tasks and contributing the work effort. I’m sure that my experience with GFSL helped me back into an electrical career. On a personal level I will never forget the friendship those guys showed me.

Paul Ryder, CEO comments:

We’re incredibly proud of how the CRED activity transforms lives for the better.

It actively demonstrates how successful partnerships with HMPPS and New Futures Network carry out essential work within the community.

Notes to editors:

Gov Facility Services Limited (GFSL) is a Ministry of Justice owned not-for-profit company. Set up in 2018, we work closely with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) to deliver a range of facility services to 48 prisons in the south of England, including statutory and mandatory planned maintenance, reactive repair, cleaning, stores operation and Project works. We also help the Prison Service reduce reoffending by providing opportunities for prisoners to develop skills and gain work experience. We currently support over a million hours per year of work by prisoners across the 48 prisons we maintain.

Original press release announced here