On Tuesday 27 February, Switchback went to Parliament to talk to MPs about how we support prisoners after release. We were delighted to be asked to give oral evidence to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee as part of its inquiry into the Government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme.
Since its implementation in early 2015, Transforming Rehabilitation has completely overhauled the probation service in England and Wales, with the National Probation Service (NPS) now managing high-risk offenders and 21 privatised Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) responsible for low to medium risk offenders. The Justice Committee inquiry is investigating the effectiveness of the programme. Switchback is not part of any formal Transforming Rehabilitation contracts but we work closely with the NPS and CRCs for our delivery of through-the-gate support for young adults.
Appearing before the Committee, Sam Boyd, Switchback’s Policy and Impact Manager, drew on the experiences of Switchback Trainees to explore how Transforming Rehabilitation had impacted on their journeys after prison. While Transforming Rehabilitation aims to offer genuine through-the-gate support, unfortunately our Trainees’ experiences suggest this has not yet been realised.
Sam described how Trainees were often unsure about who was responsible for their post-release planning, and felt drained and frustrated by having to deal with lots of different professionals. The Committee heard that the consistent and frequent support offered by Switchback Mentors helped develop a trusting relationship, with Trainees able to build stability across all areas of their lives. Sam also discussed some of the challenges faced by small voluntary sector organisations working in a fragmented system with staffing and funding pressures, and offered some potential solutions including more flexible funding models and a more personalised approach to supporting people leaving prison.