Voluntary sector organisations (VSOs) have a long history of engagement with offenders. Recent policy developments have aimed to increase their participation in the criminal justice system, leading to considerable speculation about the impact on the sector’s independence and ethos.
This paper draws on qualitative interviews with stakeholders in the voluntary sector and criminal justice fields to explore the effects of such developments on the relationship between the sector and the state, including the implications of opening the criminal justice market to VSOs, gaps
between the rhetoric and reality of commissioning, and the potential loss of the sector’s distinctiveness and critical voice.
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