Ministry of Justice
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Strategy promotes working with voluntary and community groups to strengthen justice system

Strategy promotes working with voluntary and community groups to strengthen justice system

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE News Release (050/08) issued by The Government News Network on 6 June 2008

A new Ministry of Justice strategy looks to build upon third sector relationships to deliver better public services.

The Ministry of Justice already works with a number of third sector organisations and spends more than £100 million annually with the sector through the Legal Services Commission and the National Offender Management Service.

The Ministry of Justice provides many different public services, from the courts and tribunals, prison and probation services, to legal aid advice. This strategy underpins the department's commitment to engage with third sector groups, and recognises the important role the sector plays in developing social partnerships.

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said:
"Voluntary organisations and community groups often provide a vital bridge between the public and the agencies which provide the services the public uses.

"We want the third sector to have the opportunity to contribute to improve both policy-making and public service delivery, to help us protect the public through better management of offenders, and to provide a range of pathways to justice

"With this strategy we support the Government's ambition to create an environment where the third sector can thrive and develop its contribution to Britain's society and economy."

Following a public consultation earlier this year, the Third Sector Strategy was built around four common goals:
* Enabling voice and campaigning - The third sector understands local communities and their needs, and that knowledge can be used to help shape services.
* Strengthening communities - The sector can help tap into social capital that is available through mentoring and volunteering.
* Transforming public services - Collaborative relationships between commissioners and the sector will improve the shape and delivery of public services.
* Encouraging social enterprise - Supporting the right social enterprises, and the conditions for them to thrive, will encourage long term sustainability.

The Ministry of Justice and its agencies already work with the third sector in a number of ways, from volunteer services in prisons to delivering legal aid, and the new strategy will build on these existing strengths. The National Offender Management Service will also publish a third sector action plan to reduce re- offending shortly, which will feed into the overall strategy.

Notes to Editors
1. The Government defines the third sector as non-governmental organisations that are value driven and which principally reinvest their financial surpluses to further social, environmental or cultural objectives. A wide variety of organisations make up the third sector, categorised most simply as: voluntary and community organisations (VCOs); social enterprises; and co-operatives and mutuals.

2. The Ministry of Justice and its agencies already work with the third sector in a number of ways, including:

* The Legal Services Commission spends more than £80 million annually with the third sector and the amount of advice given by third sector bodies on civil and family legal problems has increased by 50 per cent in two years.
* Nationally, the department works with Victim Support providing services to victims of crime and encourages voluntary organisations to form local partnerships.
* Her Majesty's Prison Service chaplaincy manages some 7,000 volunteers from nearly 500 churches and faith communities.
* Devon and Cornwall Criminal Justice Board works with the Prison Advice and Care Trust in providing professionally managed advice desks in courts, staffed by volunteers to assist defendants and their families.

3. As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) 2007, every department was asked to publish a third sector strategy. The Third Sector Strategy Consultation paper and questionnaire can be found here:

4. The draft NOMS third sector action plan 'Working with the third sector to reduce re-offending' can be found here:

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