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Partnership working, Alice Mills, Offenders and the Third Sector, May 2012


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Partnership working, Alice Mills, Offenders and the Third Sector, May 2012

  1. 1. Partnership-working and relationships between criminal justice and third sector staff: Accommodating each other’s agendas Alice Mills Third Sector Research Centre, UK University of Auckland, NZ Funded by:Hosted by:
  2. 2. TSO and criminal justice staff• Challenges of working in prison environment and relationships between TSO and prison staff• Different priorities and working cultures• Naïve ‘do-gooders’ or amateurs• May be viewed with suspicion• Fears they will be used instead of paid labour (Gill and Mawby 1990; Neuberger 2009)• Traditional prison officer culture – ‘them and us’• Staff can affect offender access to TSOs and their services
  3. 3. Stage 1• There has been over the years quite a cultural shift in the prison service where the voluntary sector is no longer seen as the threat. Either a threat in terms of just leaving POs to turn keys, or a threat to the Prison Service’s main aim which is managing risk to public safety…levels of cooperation between probation services and the voluntary sector… are near the all time low. Because of the resources for probation service but also there’s fear of potential competition and bidding for each other’s business. (TSO stakeholder)
  4. 4. Stage 2 - Methods• Semi-structured interviews with service users, criminal justice staff and TSO staff at 8 prisons, and in 1 probation area• 74 members of prison staff and 78 TSO representatives• 6 probation officers, 7 TSO representatives• Lasted between 20 mins and an hour
  5. 5. Good relations We have a really good rapport with them. We organisean open evening when organisations are invited to comein and have a look, both voluntary sector and privateorganisations. They’re invited to chat to staff and chat toresidents and mingle. (Staff)I think it works pretty well. We’ve got good connectionswith staff here… especially on our wing, the SOs andeverything. The staff really look after us. (TSO)
  6. 6. Value and expertiseThe majority of staff see it [TSOs in prison] as a positive move.They understand the impact it has and the positives that comeout of that… everyone can see that if a prisoner is dealing withsomeone that’s helping to keep them calm, then at the end ofthe day they’re much better to work with on the wings. (Staff)It’s their expertise, they have a breadth of knowledge like, forexample, SOVA who do a lot of job searching for women orbenefits people… we don’t have this sort of knowledge orresources to deal with these issues and they are invaluable.(Staff)
  7. 7. People, not offenders• It’s good because it shows a lot of our lads as well that not everyone thinks that they’re all toe rags out there. (Staff)• I think sometimes the offender feels a little bit less like an offender if they can go somewhere that hasn’t got Probation written all over it. (Staff)
  8. 8. The need for partnership working I think the penny dropped actually quite a long time ago that the partnerships were important, were vital. …I think suddenly it’s gone way up the agenda the realisation that so much now has got be done in partnership with outside agencies that they have got to be given time and consideration. (Staff) What I like about working with prisons is that most prisons accept that they’re not really very good at it. They’re good at locking people up, they’re good at making sure they don’t escape and so on but they know they’re not very good at rehabilitation … Lots of them [officers] call us care bears and fluffy and all the rest of it, but they know they can’t do it, they really know that. (TSO)
  9. 9. Clash of agendas? Securityand risk management You tend to get some who don’t see why certain rules exist.[ …] I fortunately caught a letter being taken out by a volunteer. I said, ‘Where are you going with that, you’ve been told you can’t…?’ ‘But he only wants me to post it.’ I said, ‘You don’t know what’s in that letter, we don’t do that.’ (Staff) I think sometimes they don’t always realise the constraints or recognise our strategy obligations, which sometimes can be put in conflict. Whereas they can often see what would be purely in the best interests of a young offender, we can say, “Yeah, I can see that, but we also need to protect the public.” (Staff)
  10. 10. Security and risk management•Risks and tensions where professional staff are understatutory obligations and volunteers are not(Neuberger 2009)•Need to offer TSOs guidance and supportBut I feel that in general because prisons are gettingmuch more savvy about working with voluntary sectororganisations there will be much less of that, ‘oh, they’rea volunteer and therefore they cant really be trustedwith anything’. (Staff)
  11. 11. ‘Institutional inconvenience’• Guests in a host environment Until recently we used to see them [prisoners] between eight and nine in the morning. We got down at eight o’clock in the morning and they were like ‘No, you can’t have them. Your slot was half past seven till eight’, so it’s like ‘Urr’. You’re quite aware that you’re in a host environment and you’ve got to fit around them. (TSO)• Importance of not being part of the prison/probation• Lack of awareness of TSOs among staff
  12. 12. Lingering cynicism I think depending on how long some operational staff have been here, they [TSOs] might be seen as a negative because they just think that rehabilitation and resettlement is a waste of time, which I find quite limiting because I think if the prison is changing they have to change with it. (Staff)• Positive attitudes in one prison despite thehistorical context (Liebling et al. 2005; HM ChiefInspector of 2007)
  13. 13. Voluntary sectorco-ordinators/ Partnership managersI don’t know what the definition of the word partnership is butfor me it’s really getting these people on board and giving themownership of what they do and supporting them within theprison environment so they actually can come in and beproductive in what they do. (Staff)The prison’s got a lot of fantastic third sector groups coming in todo work, but there was never any coordination, no one knewwhat anyone else was doing. But now [name] is onboard…binding us all together, it’s a lot better. (TSO)
  14. 14. Voluntary sectorco-ordinators/ Partnership managersWe have a particular pilot that is looking at workingwith older offenders, and she has been instrumental inmaking that pilot get off the ground, because it neededthe buy-in from Probation, and Probation, asindividuals, may be absolutely great but the reality isthey’re run off their feet and they need somebody elseto put it all together. (TSO)
  15. 15. Conclusion• Context of partnership working• Prison officers traditionally hostile to outsiders concerned with the welfare of prisoners?• Rare professional rivalries and hostility• Cultural shift - effects of professionalization?• Need for good hosts• Effects of increased competition
  16. 16. Panel members Sonya Cullerton & Kate Murray HMP Leeds Funded by:Hosted by: