Clinks website

supporting voluntary organisations that work with offenders and their families

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Commissioning is the process by which government bodies decide how to spend their money to get the best possible services for people. It can involve procuring services from outside agencies. Clinks aims to support voluntary sector organisations engaging in commissioning by providing information, training and practical support.

Partnership Finder

Clinks' Partnership Finder is an online directory of voluntary sector organisations working in criminal justice and rehabilitation. It is designed to help you: identify partners, build consortia, promote your services to commissioners and prime providers. For further information, and instructions on signing up, click here.

Tools and resources

Finance for contracts readiness checker will help your organisation understand the financial competencies and management systems required to be contract ready. Find out more here

Take your temperature is a tool that helps you to assess your organisation's strengths and weaknesses. Find out more here

Signposting to commissioning resources is a handy guide providing links to commissioning guides, research, opinion and think pieces, technical guidance, and tools. Find out more here

Safer Future Communities resources includes a range of resources that were produced as part of the Safer Future Communities project to support local voluntary sector organisations to engage with and influence police and crime commissioners. Find out more here.


This briefing, written by ACEVO in partnership with Clinks, covers potential opportunities for voluntary sector organisations to be more closely involved in the delivery of healthcare services to people in contact with the Criminal Justice System (CJS); how healthcare is commissioned for prisoners following the 2012 Health and Social Care Act; and guidance on how to make partnerships with commissioners work.

More Than a Provider: The role of the voluntary sector in the commissioning of offender services - Clinks has interviewed voluntary sector organisations navigating the complex world of procurement and subcontracting, and held discussions with commissioners. From this rich information we have developed a vision of good commissioning for rehabilitation and desistance from crime.

Interviews with potential Tier 1 providers for Transforming Rehabilitation [Dec 2013] - In Autumn 2013 Clinks and NCVO interviewed 4 organisations intending to bid to become tier 1 providers in Transforming Rehabilitation about their expectations for sub-contracting to the sector.  This report summarises some key points from their responses.

Strengthening Community Safety and Reducing Crime: Commissioning from Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise providers – a guide - The guide aims to assist PCCs to create local relationships with VCSE organisations and develop commissioning strategies that enable PCCs to take advantage of the wealth of experience in developing and delivering services within the Sector. Download the guide on our Safer Future Communities project page here

Commissioning of offender services from the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector: Interim research findings & discussion paper [June 2013] - This discussion paper presents initial findings from the first stage of the research into local Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations’ experiences of commissioning and procurement.

Clinks Briefing on NOMS Commissioning Intentions - 2014 [November 2013] - This briefing summarises the NOMS Commissioning Intentions from 2014 and the companion document, NOMS Evidence and Segmentation. This discussion document forms part of NOMS' annual Strategic Commissioning Round and outlines the types of interventions which NOMS wishes to buy - in prison and in the community - during the coming financial year in order to achieve its statutory duties and desired outcomes.

Influencing your PCC: making your case for the VCS sector [2012] - From April 2013 a number of existing government funding streams for community safety and substance misuse will come to an end. These funds will be consolidated and transferred to the PCCs from which they will be able to make Crime and Disorder grants.

Competition, commissioning and the VCS (October 2011), made a series of recommendations to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) on improving commissioning practice to address the key issues, on which Clinks continues to lobby.

Harnessing Voluntary and Community Sector resources to help reoffending in Gloucestershire - a framework for commissioning [March 2011] - This framework provides guidance on how the resources of the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) can be harnessed to help reduce reoffending through improved and joined-up commissioning between the Integrated Offender Management (IOM) partners in Gloucestershire.

What works in local commissioning? [2009] - This report summarises four pieces of research commissioned by Clinks to establish how a variety of services are commissioned for those leaving prison and serving sentences in the community

Presentation and accompanying notes for Clinks’ and NAVCA’s training course ‘Commissioning and Collaboration’ [2012] - an interactive training day exploring how collaboration could help you succeed in the new criminal justice commissioning environment



Negotiation skills: Get a good deal - In the first of his blog series, Mike Harvey, Director of Candour Collaborations, outlines why negotiation is so important for voluntary sector organisations today. 

Negotiation skills: Preperation is key - In the second of his blog series, Mike Harvey talks about the essential preperation needed to successfully bid for contracts. 

Negotation skills: Discussion - In his final blog post for Clinks, Mike Harvey talks about the discussion stage of negotiations.

What are the 10 elements of great commissioning? - Through developing Clinks' More Than a Provider report, Isabel Livingstone shares the 10 elements that were identified as being essential to great commissioning. 

Case studies

VCS experiences of criminal justice contracting: A series of case studies - The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has expressed an ambition to see quality voluntary sector services at the heart of reducing reoffending. However, current commissioning practice, and in particular procurement practice, often deter or even exclude the voluntary secor.

Contract with a private sector organisation - In July 2011, Women’s Wisdom secured a three year contract with Serco to deliver Job Deal support to 340 women offenders in Hampshire and parts of Surrey and Sussex. This case study shares how Women's Wisdom is benefitting from this subcontract with prime provider Serco, through the NOMS ESF programme.

Sustainability in a challenging environment - Until April 2013, Independence Trust’s turnover was £3.5million and there were 130 staff. Since April 2013, its turnover has been £1.6million as it no longer has a countywide substance misuse contract due to a change of provider after the re-tender in 2012. There are now 78 staff and 40 volunteers. This interview with the CEO in 2013 covers issues including: Secrets of sustainability in a changing landscape, recovery after losing a major contract and working in consortia – what works and what doesn’t?

Transition from grants to commissioning - This case study looks at the experience of Urban Outreach, a local Bolton-based charity moving from operating as a traditional grant-funded organisation to preparing itself for winning public sector contracts and operating in a new commissioning environment.

The impact of payment by results contracts - Eco-Actif Services CIC focused on programmes to create opportunities for some of the most marginalised and vulnerable people in South London and Surrey, but became insolvent following a contract under the Work Programme. This case study sets out the impact of payment by results on a voluntary sector organisation.