The Ministry of Justice is calling on all innovators who can support people leaving prison in four key theme areas to apply for Government funding of up to £350,000 to develop and test their solutions.

The Prison Leavers Project aims to develop innovative new solutions to break the cycle of reoffending. The project has three distinct strands: national, cross-sector teams testing new ways to address the issues that can drive reoffending; a grant fund for local leaders and agencies to test shared approaches to reduce re-offending causing crime locally, and the Innovation Challenge.

This challenge aims to harness innovation from the tech sector to develop new technological solutions to the support available for people leaving prison, reducing the harms associated with crime.

Challenge 1 – Goal tracking

Building a positive, non-criminal identity is a key step in prison leavers’ desistance from crime. So how can we enable prison leavers to track their goals, reflect on progress, and bring about positive behavioural change, either alone or with mentors?

Challenge 2 – Day of release appointments

Prison leavers’ engagement with key organisations on their day of release builds ongoing relationships with services that steer them away from reoffending. So how can we inform, coordinate, and update relevant stakeholders of a prisoner’s day of release details and key appointments?

Challenge 3 – Data store

Lack of access to key documents and data such as ID, birth certificates and 5-year housing history prevents prison leavers from accessing jobs, housing and banking, increasing their likelihood of committing crime. So how can we enable prison leavers to collect, control and share their data with relevant stakeholders?

Challenge 4 – Family relationships

Families are an important part of creating a positive environment that contributes to a prison leavers’ desistance from crime. So how can we support families to strengthen and sustain their relationships with prison leavers to reduce reoffending after release?

Challenge 5 – Social groups

Building new, positive community ties stops prison leavers engaging with old criminal networks after release, risking a relapse to criminal activity. So how can we connect prison leavers with relevant and beneficial social & peer-to-peer support groups?

Challenge 6 – Learning difficulties and disabilities

Crucial information relating to conditions of release and services can be challenging for prison leavers with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities to fully understand, increasing the chances of reoffending. So how can we assist probation officers to manage prison leavers with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities?

Programme phases

The Prison Leavers Innovation Challenge will be run as a two-phased Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition.

Phase 1:
Up to 10 selected companies will receive Government funding of up to £25,000 to prototype their solution, culminating in a closed pitch day.

Phase 2:
Up to 4 selected companies will receive Government funding of up to £350,000, as well as mentorship support, to develop their solution and design a Pilot. Once set up, companies will run their pilots in ‘steady state’ for 1 year.

The specific requirements and more details on the contractual specifications can be found in the Supplier guidance (updated 12 May) (7 pages).

Prison Leaver needs and context associated with each challenge statement in the Additional challenge context pack (15 pages).

Companies are asked to submit an expression of interest form and to attend an interview.

Find out more in these interactive sessions giving an overview of the needs and requirements of proposed solutions to the challenge.

Prison Leavers Innovation Challenge – Evaluation
Thursday 20 May 2021 at 10:00: Register for this webinar

Prison Leaver Innovation Challenge – Prison Leaver Journey
Thursday 27 May 2021 at 11:00: Register for this webinar

Watch the launch briefing below.