How Has the Introduction of Contestability and the Mixed Economy Affected Offender Management in the Uk ?

Topics: Criminal justice, Private sector, National Offender Management Service Pages: 10 (2856 words) Published: May 10, 2013
How has the introduction of contestability and the mixed economy affected Offender Management in the UK ?


The aim of this report is to find out how the introduction of contestability and the mixed economy affected Offender Management in the UK? It shall do this by first explaining what contestability and the mixed economy are in this specific context. Critical evaluations will then be made on the macro and micro effects of this policy on Britain’s offender management from the different agencies involved e.g. the Public sector, Voluntary sector (TSOs) and Private sector. The report will then gather the evidence collected and provide future recommendations on how contestability and mixed economies can work in offender management.

Mixed economy in context

When explaining the mixed economy in the framework of offender management it should be noted that it isn’t a phenomenon that has occurred in recent history. Private and Voluntary organisations have had historical significance in offender management in one form or another as early as the Middle Ages. It has been noted that prisons were privately run from the middle ages up until the 19th century, the church as a voluntary sector also had involvement as well (Cavadino and Dignan, 2007). The mixed economy in this context is a combination of the three different sectors (voluntary, private and public) involvement in offender management. However each sector has varied degrees of involvement, for example the voluntary sector is focused primarily on rehabilitation of offenders via the avenues of working with probation and prison services in various forms such as community groups e.g. Catch 22 (, 2013). The public and Private sectors both seek to be providers of prison services and probation so are in direct competition with each other (Mcculloch, T. and Mcneil, F, 2007) . The aim of the mixed economy approach implemented by NOMS is to ensure the best value for money from public services (, 2013).

Contestability in context

The concept of contestability in offender management was primarily instigated by New Labour to create competition within offender management amongst the three sectors. This was based on the findings in the carter report which established contestability as a viable option for offender management as a part of NOMS (National Offender Management service) (Carter, P. 2003) . It is stated by NOMS that “contestability is not another word for competition. It is a situation where a provider faces a credible threat of competition in the provision of some or all of the services they deliver. For NOMS it is a programme for Prison & Probation Services to demonstrate that services are provided to the highest possible standard and achieve results” (Policy Exchange, 2010). The aim of contestability within offender management is to create an environment which creates competition which reduces costs and makes room for innovation.

The mixed economy and contestability have been brought to the forefront of offender management for this report because the current coalition government is following where New labour left off pursuing further making radical changes.

Macro level effects on offender management by contestability and the mixed economies

Prison Services

Privatisation of prison services hasn’t had any dramatic macro effects on the number of private prisons nor public. The number of privately run prisons in England and Wales is only 14 out of 141 (, 2013) this shows that the public sector still retains its monopoly over running prisons. However on a wider societal level the ideas of contestability and mixed economies being implemented into the prison service show the changing ideological shifts of successive British governments becoming more reliant on the private sector and their favourability towards the free market(Genders, E. 2002) . This can be shown by the growth of provision of services...
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