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15 January 2014

Public Social Partnership model – Low Moss Prison PSP

Low Moss Prison

The Low Moss Prison Public Social Partnership as a way to reduce re-offending and decent trough-care in Scotland
 
Authors and organizational affiliations: Pauline Graham – Social Firms Scotland
 
1. Context and history of how the good practice has been developed
 
Context: Social enterprise in Scotland
 
Social enterprise in Scotland has developed at pace over the past decade – it is vibrant and visible. Support structures are strong and it enjoys strong political support. 
 
The Scottish Government (which is a devolved administration from UK Govt) is solely responsible for policy that drives the social economy, and Scottish Government support for our sector across policy areas is unwavering. At the same time, the support landscape for social enterprise has also developed at pace with the emergence of new support agencies since 2000, for example: Social Firms Scotland; Social Entrepreneurs Network Scotland (Senscot); Social Enterprise Scotland and Social Enterprise Academy. Senscot has also supported the emergence of 20 social enterprise networks across the country (geographic and thematic) which has significantly enhanced peer support and raised the profile of social enterprise in Scotland at local level.
 
Policy & Support for Social Economy in Scotland
 
The EU EQUAL Programme around the social economy was very successful in Scotland (2002-2008) and the mainstreaming phase informed the first Scottish Social Enterprise strategy (2007). 
 
Since then successor government strategies all recognise social enterprise as a distinct part of the Third Sector and a business model that requires differentiated business support and investment approaches. The Scottish Government has put in place a national business support programme Just Enterprise, a £6 Million investment programme (Enterprise Ready Fund) and a national programme to Develop Markets for social economy organisations, delivered by Ready for Business. This programme supports the development of Public Social Partnerships (PSPs) and works with public sector service commissioners and procurement officers to open markets for third sector organisations. Both Social Firms Scotland and Senscot are partners in Ready for Business and we support the PSP developments.
 
Key drivers for Scottish Government support within a policy context are: reduction in public finances which has intensified the need to transform how public services are designed and delivered; the need to shift investment from public finances towards Prevention. In addition, since 2006, there has been a transformation in public procurement in Scotland to take account of social value and a need to use procurement as a driver of economic growth (jobs, training and community benefit). The Scottish Government is now introducing a Procurement Reform Bill through the Scottish Parliament to ensure that issues of sustainability are at the core of how public procurement spend can impact on the economy, the environment and on communities across Scotland.
 
Structural Fund Programme (2014-20)
 
Regarding Structural Fund Programmes (2014-20), Scotland will have its own chapter within the UK Partnership Agreement. This will allow the Scottish Government (the MA) to set out specific challenges and opportunities in Scotland which might not apply in the rest of the UK; and will allow Operational Programmes (OPs) tailored to support Scottish Government investment and policy priorities. 3 broad themes are emerging for Scotland’s OPs aligned to Europe 2020 goals:

  • Competitiveness; Innovation; Jobs
  • Environment; Resource Efficiency; Low Carbon
  • Social Inclusion; Local Development

 
Social enterprise features in the consultation document under ‘social inclusion & local development’, however, Social Firms Scotland and our partner agencies have submitted a response to the consultation which highlights the need to see more explicit mention of the importance of social entrepreneurship, social enterprises and social investment. We have also highlighted the work of the EU SEN in our response. 
 
2. Summary of main characteristics of good practice approach
 
Public Social Partnerships
 
The goal of the Public Social Partnership model is ‘to involve social economy organisations earlier and more deeply in the service design process, so that services are developed collaboratively, made sustainable and address service user needs more effectively and efficiently. This model is based on a co-production approach, where the public sector and social economy organisations jointly design new services based on an evidence base of ‘what works’ and involving service users at the heart of the design process.
 
Applying the PSP model in a Criminal Justice setting.
 
Reducing reoffending is both a local and national priority.  Audit Scotland’s publication ‘An Overview of Scotland’s Criminal Justice System’ underlines that while there have been high levels of investment in these structures, and many excellent services in place, desired outcomes are still not being delivered; national statistics for Scotland indicate a reoffending rate of 53% for the short term prisoner population.
 
The opportunity - The opening of a new prison (HMP Low Moss) in 2012 provided a significant opportunity for the public and third sector to work together to ensure services accessed by prisoners could be as effective as possible in reducing reoffending. The Public Social Partnership model was identified as the most effective approach to this engagement and was adopted for the re-design of a through-care pathway for convicted short-term prisoners and those on remand.
 
This approach has already brought significant shared learning and benefits for public and social economy partners, and early engagement from the client group reveals this is a welcome approach.
 
A partnership of 15 partners involving social enterprise providers, public sector commissioners and funders have been involved in the model design process and signed a Low Moss PSP Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at a stakeholder event at the end of November 2012.  The project lead is Turning Point Scotland (a leading social enterprise), aims to establish a gateway service for delivering throughcare to prisoners and ex-offenders for Low Moss prison.
 
The throughcare gateway will support approximately 750 prisoners and ex-offenders every year.  This is expected to focus on improving short and medium term outcomes for prisoners, with the long term ambition of reducing reoffending by a further 15% of today's levels.  The pilot stage commenced in April 2013 and will run for 3 years before the new service being competitively tendered.
 
Some questions arose at the peer review which related to the need to competitively tender the PSP service/s beyond the pilot period. This reflects the need to ensure that the services if successfully delivered are sustainable in the longer term. It also reflects that the PSP model is not a means of giving social economy originations preferential treatment in the commissioning of public services.
 
3. Evidence/Justification for Good Practice
 
Informing the service design: data gathering
 
The Low Moss PSP service model is based on evidence gathered through consultation and service design workshops with key stakeholders, including prisoners and ex-offenders, and a review of best practice evidence. Design principles are based on the premise that resettlement should begin the moment the individual arrives in prison and upon the evidence that prisoners can and do desist from criminal behaviours, and that every individual has personal and social capital that can be enhanced to increase their capacity to lead a productive life.
 
To identify the changes that needed to be made, Low Moss PSP undertook an information gathering exercise of both quantitative and qualitative measures.
 
The quantitative baseline was established with a literature review of statistics and best practice in the national criminal justice system.  This included national figures on reconviction, data from the Audit Scotland report and Scottish Prison Service (SPS) Prisoner Survey data.  The PSP partners found that:

  • 47% of offenders (68% with more than ten previous custodial sentences) released from custody are reconvicted within one year, compared to 27% of those on community disposals
  • The SPS report indicates that the spend per year on a prisoner is £34,279 and that the estimated spend of various bodies to reduce re-offending exceeds £703 million
  • The Audit Scotland spending review identified the requirement to focus this expenditure on delivering those interventions that have proved most effective
  • The Audit Scotland Report 2011 and the Scottish Government’s Reducing Re-Offending Strategy agree that the provision of a range of holistic person-centred supports will reduce the level of re-offending.  At present the available services lack cohesion and coordination and do not belong to one group, thus reducing efficiency and effectiveness

 
This evidence underpins the Low Moss PSP business case; better outcomes and greater efficiency will be derived by a project that assertively engages people and looks after them throughout the system of supports identified in the Reducing Reoffending Strategy - a strategy already identified as successful in tackling reoffending.
 
Key stakeholder groups were then invited to contribute their experience and expertise, from which the qualitative baseline was derived.

Service Users – prisoners and ex-prisoners
 

6 focus groups with ex-offenders, 44 participants
2 focus groups with serving prisoners, 17 participants
10 one-to-one interviews with serving prisoners

Third Sector and public sector agencies

7 focus groups with third sector agencies
13 one-to-one interviews with third sector agencies
8 interviews with statutory agencies – Job Centre Plus, Housing Departments/Registerd Social Landlords, Criminal Justice Social Work, Local Authority Employability agencies, Throughcare Addiction Services

 
This approach enabled the key support needs linked to offending behaviour to be identified.  Serving and former prisoners underlined the lack of a cohesive approach as a challenge of the current system; seeking out support from a variety of agencies which work independently and do not co-ordinate interventions proved to be problematic to navigate for liberated prisoners.  The Low Moss PSP project has been designed to offer holistic, seamless, and person-centred support from sentencing through to pre-release, on the point of release and further ongoing community support, all co-ordinated by a known and constant Pathway Practitioner.
 
This project has been developed to address the following fundamental issues identified by the prisoner and former prisoner groups, all of which correlate with the offender outcomes:

  • Access to sustainable appropriate housing
  • Family support
  • Employability and training
  • Drug recovery services
  • Alcohol recovery services
  • Mental health services
  • Specialist counselling services
  • Life skills – specifically addressing attitudes to offending

 
To complement the prisoners’ specific needs, a further set of factors were highlighted that would stimulate and motivate their engagement with this new service:

  • Purposeful and meaningful activity
  • Improved mental and physical health
  • Settled housing accommodation
  • Financial security/independence
  • Settled family life

 
Although these needs are understood by agencies, Low Moss PSP identified that there remains the issue of prisoners accessing the right type of support at the right level and at the right time for them.  It was concluded that a more effective throughcare system could be developed by introducing coordination and continuity to person-centred flexible services. Acknowledging the need for a more joined up approach, as emphasised by both service users and agencies, Low Moss adopted the PSP approach to ensure public and third sector efforts in reoffending are coordinated, tailored, purposeful and, above all, effective.

4. Outcomes (for different stakeholders)
 
The new prisoner throughcare pathway model is now operational.
 
The Low Moss PSP is now operational within the prison and has received high level political support and recognition from a number of sources. Having been identified as a major gap in a number of his reports, the Chief Inspector of Prisons is fully supportive of this model as means to build a pathway of continuity and support from prison to community.
 
Low Moss PSP has also featured as a good practice case study within Scottish Govt’s public service reform programme.
 
Impact
 
Low Moss PSP has developed a bespoke outcomes and monitoring framework, linked to the national offenders’ outcomes, to ensure the project is on target to meet the specified outcomes and indicators. Individual outcome information gathering occurs at a point close to the beginning of sentence, pre-release, three, six and twelve months post release.  Although in year 1 of 3, expected outcomes are:

  • Improved engagement in throughcare support services: from 450 prisoners engaging with initial assessment process to 200 service users engaging with community based support agencies post-release.
  • Sustained recovery from drug and/or alcohol misuse: 60% reporting stabilisation, reduction in use or abstinence.
  • Mental health improvements: 42 people reporting stable or improved mental health post-release
  • Delivery of a sustainable response to homelessness for prisoners engaging with the service: 75% placed and remaining in secure accommodation.

 
A logic model was produced to clearly define inputs, outputs and short, medium and long term outcomes expected from Low Moss PSP. (attached at Appendix 1). The Low Moss PSP Prisoner Throughcare Pathway service is also graphically presented here.
 
5. Strengths and Weaknesses
 
Critical success factors
 
The adoption of the PSP approach brought significant advantages to the service design and implementation process:

  • Social economy driven –effectively engaged with service commissioners and funders and used detailed service knowledge to develop a strong service design and a robust business case which clearly evidenced the case for change.
  • Innovative model – A unique “blank slate” approach to redesign helped individuals to dismiss pre-conceived ideas and really focus on the challenge in front of them.
  • Skills and knowledge pool –Broad skills pool available to draw on as and when required; this included leadership, project management, service user engagement and analytical skills. Leveraging the collective knowledge of all partners helped identify and eliminate ‘blockers’ in the existing service delivery model, and to support the move towards a simpler more innovative service delivery.
  • Holistic approach – Collaboration among multiple organisations across both public and third sector meant change could be translated into practice as the actors required were all involved.
  • Structure and control - providers could engage with and freely participate in the development of a new service safe in the knowledge that the boundaries of the relationships were clear and Intellectual Property was not at risk.
  • Robust period of piloting - allows strategic, operational, and governance challenges to be identified and addressed in a safe environment. Iteration also allows for the incorporation of service user feedback.
  • Sustainability focus – critical in ensuring service continuity and funder buy-in.

 
Key Challenges
 
There were inevitably a number of challenges which the PSP partners were required to address and overcome. These included:

  • Timescales. The design group was required to baseline current provision and develop the new approach to managing and delivering throughcare services within tight timelines – approximately four months. This required strong commitment from all participants. However it also provided a key focus for the group and ensured continued progress.
  • Stakeholder Management. Due to the nature of services to prisoners, there were a significant number of stakeholders across the public and third sectors. This required continued engagement through a number of forms of communication. However, ensuring this dialogue took place allowed key participants to understand, comment and advise upon project proposals.
  • Partnership Working. Although working in partnership is by no means new to public and third sector partners, the PSP model is a new approach for many. The process of building an understanding of the model took time. However, this ultimately provided the foundation for maintaining progress throughout the project.

 
The PSP model requires a high level of commitment from all partners and an element of risk-taking since at its core it intends to do things differently and manage a change process. Many of the strengths of the PSP approach reflects strong commitment from all partners involved through a Memorandum of Understanding which clearly outlines the aims of the PSP, the partners roles and responsibilities, the governance and communication arrangements, resource requirements and risk register.
 
The biggest challenge of the PSP model is the need to ensure that if the services prove to be successful (effective and efficient), then this needs to be evidenced sufficiently to convince public sector commissioners to fund the services in the longer term. The biggest risk for the social economy partners is that they do not successfully win the tender after the pilot period.
 
6. Comparisons with other experiences (alternatives or complementary - in same territory or elsewhere)
 
As a result of the Scottish Govt’s policy to shift investment towards ‘prevention’ and to engage social economy in reforming public services, the Low Moss PSP led to a new Govt Change Fund on reducing reoffending to adopt PSP as a criterion for funding. This has further embedded the PSP model across different policy areas.
 
7. Overall assessment and transferability
 
Overall the Low Moss PSP case study was very well received at the peer review event, with many countries suggesting it represented ‘best practice’ in a number of areas relevant to this cluster for example: the presence, commitment and trust evident across the PSP partners (national & local government agencies; social economy organisations; funders).
 
Low Moss adopted the PSP model to design a holistic throughcare pathway to those serving short-term sentences. It offers prisoners a dedicated Pathway Practitioner who will work with them to create a personalised Care Plan; a plan that addresses their needs and aims, and recommends the right services at the right time. The three-year pilot project supports prisoners from the point of admission through to twelve months post-release.
 
Low Moss PSP will focus on helping beneficiaries to address multiple barriers (including addictions, employment, mental health and homelessness) through enabling better access to and engagement with improved services, with the longer-term aim of reducing or eliminating reoffending.  The PSP process can be applied in other settings: social care, employment, early years interventions, older peoples services etc and the model is transferable across nations, regions and policy areas.
 
The transferability potential was noted as high during the peer review as the model is well tested in Scotland and could be easily transferable to the criminal justice system in other countries as well as to other policy areas where the social economy can play a significant role in co-designing more effective services to achieve better results for service users. The application of the PSP model could be a good practice approach applied within the ESF in new programming period (2014-20) to further prove its effectiveness.
 
References:
 
Further information on the Public Social Partnership model can be found here
 
The PSP was formally launched by Scotland’s Justice Minister with testimonies from PSP staff and service users.
 
HMP Low Moss
 
Testimony from Gil Tod, Low Moss PSP Manager
“Devastated by her son’s first custodial service, Steve’s mother was in pieces waiting to see him.  Talking to one of our colleagues she explained how she was unable to have him return to the family home. She took one of our leaflets, spoke to her son and one of our team followed up with him. Since making the initial contact a lot of work has been done and has resulted in Steve being liberated with a house to go to, with the promise to be re-housed to more appropriate accommodation, social work are involved with him in the community and a supported family visit took place within the first week of being liberated.
Steve’s Mum was in constant contact with the service.  Today a staff member is accompanying him to a meeting at his local job centre.”
 
Key Contact for PSP case study
Pauline Graham
pauline.graham@socialfirms.org.uk
Web link:  http://readyforbusiness.org/programme-offering/public-social-partnerships/

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