Today Social Finance publishes a report on the first year of the Peterborough Social Impact Bond and the One* Service. What can we report after one year? We have over 500 individuals on our watch in the community. While engagement in the One* Service is purely voluntary, the proportion we are working with pre and post release is encouragingly high. There is clear evidence of an unmet need from a group who typically receive little or no support on release. Needs vary considerably across the population we are working with. Some, fortunately a small minority, suffer from very deep seated often inter-generational issues which will take considerable time to work through. A larger group, but nevertheless still a minority, are in a cycle of crime where the support we provide offers a framework for finding an alternative way of life. For the rest, it is too early to say.
The question we are inevitably asked – have we reduced reoffending sufficiently to generate a return to our investors – will only be answered in Year 4. We are measured against a very clear metric. The number of reconviction events of our cohort compared to a similar group of short sentenced male prisoners across the UK drawn from the Police National Computer. Against this objective measure, investors will either gain a return or lose their investment.
On reflection, the Social Impact Bond funding structure has brought flexibility and innovation to the project. Flexibility in terms of finance and therefore service provision; innovation in terms of the solutions and partnerships we are able to build because we are judged by outcomes and not outputs. The enthusiasm for this project from criminal justice experts and practitioners harbours well for its success. Peterborough Prison has aligned some of its services for male prisoners with our programme and has moved to adopt some of our interventions for its female prisoners. The value of a programme which is funded for over six years is tangible both for our service delivery partners and other stakeholders. It enables them to plan and build around it. We are hopeful that not only will this project succeed but that it will encourage others to be bolder in their approach to reducing reoffending in their communities. Our sense on the ground is that we are making a difference. People say to us “If it wasn’t for you, we’d be back inside again.”
By Janette Powell, Director of the One* Service (Social Finance)