On 15th June a Government statement on probation services was repeated in the House of Lords. Rt Revd James Langstaff, Bishop of Rochester, asked a follow up question.
The Lord Bishop of Rochester: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this discussion. Like others, whatever nuances of language there are, I welcome what I see as a general change of direction.
Predictably, my question focuses on the charitable sector, which others have mentioned, not least the faith-based sector. One of the privileges and joys of my time as bishop to Her Majesty’s prisons has been to see the work of faith-based and community-based organisations all over the country, not least in work through the gate and in seeking to rehabilitate and resettle people into local communities.
Many of these organisations are very small, but their fruitfulness and effectiveness has been attested to by research from, for example, the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge. My question is about these smaller organisations, such as those encompassed by the community chaplaincy network.
Can the Minister assure me that, in work with the voluntary and community sectors, these smaller organisations—they were almost completely squeezed out of the previous arrangements—will have their place alongside some of the larger, stronger charitable organisations? I am thinking particularly of those small organisations rooted in local communities, which work really effectively.
Lord Keen of Elie: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate makes an extremely good point. We are concerned to ensure that these smaller organisations will be in a position to deliver the sort of rehabilitation and resettlement services in which they have excelled in the past and in which we are confident they will excel in the future. We have endeavoured to make the bidding process under the dynamic framework as light-touch as possible and have engaged Clinks, the umbrella organisation, to try to ensure that the whole process will be open to the sort of charitable and voluntary organisations that the right reverend Prelate has referred to.