Voluntary Sector Involvement in criminal justice: controversies and challenges
Corcoran, Mary; Hucklesby, Anthea (2013)

Anthea Hucklesby (University of Leeds, UK) and Mary Corcoran (Keele University, UK)

The voluntary sector has a long tradition of providing services to those caught up in the criminal justice system and involvement in reform movements to bring about change to improve the treatment of victims, suspects and offenders. To-date they have primarily filled gaps in statutory services supplementing rather than replacing existing state-funded provision. Voluntary sector organisations have remained independent and autonomous and focussed upon their charitable aims. Recent Government rhetoric and policy developments envisage a very different future for voluntary sector involvement in criminal justice. Commitments to marketisation, civil society and localism coupled with the requirements for austerity have resulted in the development of policies which aim to increase and fundamental alter the role of voluntary sector organisations. Voluntary sectors organisations are being ‘nudged’, ‘lead’ or ‘pushed’ into greater and deeper involvement in the management and supervision of offenders resulting in intense debates about the implications for individual organisations and the sector as a whole. This paper critically engages with current debates drawing on a series of seminars funded by the ESRC into voluntary sector involvement in criminal justice. It explores key concerns of voluntary sector organisations including whether they can survive, maintain current services and stick to their missions whilst responding to government proposals, receiving government money and developing alliances with statutory and private sector organisations. The paper will conclude by drawing some conclusions about the current and future landscape of voluntary sector involvement in the provision of criminal justice services.


Anthea Hucklesby is Professor of Criminal Justice and Deputy Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses upon the criminal justice process and its treatment of suspects, defendants and offenders. She is currently involved in research on the use of pre-charge bail, electronic monitoring and private and voluntary sectors involvement in criminal justice. Her more recent publications include: A. Hucklesby (2011) Bail Support Schemes for Adults, Policy Press and A. Crawford and A. Hucklesby (eds) (2012,) Legitimacy and Compliance in Criminal Justice, Routledge; A. Hucklesby ‘Insiders’ Views of Electronically Monitored Curfew Orders’ to M. Nellis, K. Beyens and D. Kaminski (2012) Electronically Monitored Punishment: International and Critical Perspectives, Routledge.

Mary Corcoran is Lecturer in Criminology at Keele University. She has published Out of Order: The Political Imprisonment of Women in Northern Ireland, 1972-1996 (2006). Her current research focuses on changes in the relationship between markets, states and civil society and their consequences for criminal justice. That work engages with the ethics, practice and politics of civil society and private sector actors in criminal justice spheres. She seeks to develop theoretical insights through the analysis of grounded practice in research projects on diversionary and resettlement projects for women, peer mentoring and support for released prisoners. She has recently published on the challenges posed by marketisation in criminal justice and on ‘partnerships’ in local justice and community-based punishment. She recently completed research into the gendered aspects of voluntary engagement with ‘offenders’ and is currently working on a mentoring project for women prisoners.

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