Criminal Justice

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The rehabilitation of offenders is a cornerstone of the government’s criminal justice policy. Successful rehabilitation will deliver benefits to society and reduce public spending on the prison system. Fewer offenders will commit less crime requiring fewer prisons costing less money. With 60% of short sentence prisoners re-offending within a year of release there is a real opportunity to revolutionise the rehabilitation of prisoners.

The challenge is that reducing re-offending is a long-term commitment requiring time and investment. There is a natural time lag between offering new and improved rehabilitation services, reducing re-offending and closing prisons. With no new public funding available for rehabilitation services, particularly in the current spending environment, how can the transformation be funded?

Social Finance has created Social Impact Bonds to bridge the funding divide and raise external social investment to fund preventative programmes. This finance funds sector and community organisations to deliver programmes which stop prisoners returning to prison after release.

Social Finance is also assessing the feasibility of developing Social Impact Bonds at a larger scale for women and for young offenders. For information about Social Impact Bonds in the Criminal Justice Sector please read our publication Social Impact Bonds; Unlocking investment in rehabilitation.

The One* Service

The first Social Impact Bond aims to reduce re-offending amongst male prisoners leaving HMP Peterborough who have served a sentence of less than 12 months. During the Peterborough Prison pilot, experienced social sector organisations, such as St. Giles Trust, The Ormiston Children and Families Trust, SOVA and YMCA will provide intensive support to 3,000 short-term prisoners over a six year period, both inside prison and after release, to help them resettle into the community.

If this initiative reduces re-offending by 7.5%, or more, investors will receive from Government a share of the long term savings. If the SIB delivers a drop in re-offending beyond the threshold, investors will receive an increasing return the greater the success at achieving the social outcome, up to a maximum of 13%.


  • There is more information about Peterborough and the service being offered to prisoners at The One* Service website.
  • In December 2010, the Ministry of Justice published a Green Paper “Breaking the cycle: effective punishment, rehabilitation and sentencing of offenders”. Social Finance submitted a response. Please click here to read a shortened version of our submission.
  • In May 2011 RAND Europe published a report into lessons learned from the planning and early implementation of the Peterborough SIB.
  • In November 2011 Social Finance published a report looking at the first year of the One Service. 

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