A CONSORTIUM of Northern charities remains in the running to deliver offender management in the region after reaching the next stage of the tender process.

The Northern Inclusion Consortium (NIC) was one of the first voluntary sector led organisations to bid for a contract to rehabilitate offenders as part of the part-privatisation of the Probation Service.

Under the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) controversial Transforming Rehabilitation programme, private firms, charities and voluntary groups were invited to bid to supervise low and medium risk offenders.

Thirty bidders have passed the first stage of the competition to win the 21 regional rehabilitation contracts.

Mike Harvey, chief executive of the Northern Inclusion Consortium, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement but the hard work’s only just begun.

“Although we’ve passed the first hurdle of convincing them we have the capability to deliver the contracts, everything is still dependent on the MoJ requirements being realistic and achievable.”

NIC is made up of the five charities, Disc, Changing Lives, Groundwork North East & Cumbria, Mental Health Concern and Spectrum Community Health CIC, which already help people with complex needs in northern England.

Mark Weeding, chief executive of Disc, which is based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham: said: “We hope through NIC to provide real alternatives to just running slimmed down versions of the probation service.

“Genuine innovation will be the only way get positive outcomes from the process and we have the knowledge to come up with the ideas to make them work.”