This timeline sets out and links to the public domain information about the shadowy and curious “Just Solutions international” (“JSi” – complete with gimmicky lower-case “i”).
This timeline is intended to complement my substantive posts on JSi and will be updated from time to time.
The Home Office publish the Carter Review, Managing Offenders, Reducing Crime: A New Approach.
The Carter Review proposess the “establishment of a National Offender Management Service – restructuring the Prison and Probation Services – with a single Chief Executive accountable to Ministers for punishing offenders and reducing re-offending”.
And so the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is created, in effect combining the prison service and the probation service.
NOMS is restructured and re-established as an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice.
The Ministry of Justice retains responsibility for “strategic oversight” of policy and direction and NOMS is expected to commission and provide services which deliver to a specified framework.
Coalition takes office. Kenneth Clarke QC MP becomes Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
According to LinkedIn, NOMS personnel date that their JSi positions started in 2012. One individual, who I will not name here, has on his LinkedIn profile:
July 2012 – Present (2 years 8 months)London
Leadership of Just Solutions International to allow the sharing of best practice in prison and probation services with other Governments and agencies.
He also describes himself as:
April 2011 – Present (3 years 11 months)UK
Commercial activity including development and sale of innovative Criminal Justice Systems – Includes IT based payment by results, case and contract management systems; consultancy and programmes on all aspects of offender work
There is no (express) mention of Just Solutions international in the 2011-12 Annual Report of Ministry of Justice (for year ending 31 March 2012).
Chris Grayling replaces Clarke to become Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice
The JSi web domain was registered on 4 October 2012.
There is no mention of Just Solutions international in the 2012-13 Annual Report of Ministry of Justice (for year ending 31 March 2013).
On 3 July 2013 JSi is discussed on the PricewaterhouseCoopers blog. Other than (perhaps) LinkedIn pages, this is the first public mention of JSi.
The blogpost says:
Another example currently sits within the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), which is exploring an option to establish a not-for-profit organisation to market its expertise in Justice internationally. The new operation, Just Solutions International (JSi), will re-invest any surplus into research that supports the work of NOMS.
Because spending cuts have diminished the budget available for this research, JSi is an example not only of government earning income on its IP, but also of it using that income to maintain a high standard of service delivery.
In January 2015, neither MoJ nor PwC were able to explain how PwC knew so much about JSi as early as July 2013.
On 9 October 2013, Grayling refers to JSi in a speech to the World Probation Congress. This seems to be the first mention of JSi by a government minister.
According to the official speech, Grayling says:
The last few years have seen a major advance in the United Kingdom in our expertise in finding ways of managing offenders and re-assimilating them into society.
Integrated Offender Management, for example, is a new way of seeking to prevent re-offending and promote rehabilitation. Governments from around the world are coming to us for assistance on justice matters, looking to take advantage of the knowledge, skills and expertise we have developed.
We are committed to supporting those countries in the development of their criminal justice systems, working in liaison with UK Trade and Investments, the Department for International Developments and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
In response to this interest from around the world, we are setting up Just Solutions International – a social enterprise – to enable this service to be delivered in a commercial manner.
It will be able to make available knowledge and expertise relating to offender management services to organisations in other countries that work with offenders. The new body is currently being piloted and we are looking to launch it in April 2014.
Our intention is that Just Solutions will be able to provide you with access to all the services you will hear about during this conference, including, to name but a few: – development and improvement of probation services; – prison estates, prison design, prison building and procurement; – cutting-edge electronic monitoring systems; and – payment-by-results and reducing re-offending mechanisms.
There is no mention of JSi in the (first) so-called “mid-year report” of MoJ to Parliament, coverning MoJ activity from April to September 2013 .
Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Supports capacity for design and prison build across overseas prison services. Provides justice assistance consultancy services alongside learning and development opportunities and interventions via the Prison Service training college. . NOMS will work with UKTI to identify trade opportunities arising from this work. . NOMS will work with UKTI to identify trade opportunities arising from this work.
The UK offender management capability is based on the principles of holding prisoners securely, reducing the risk of prisoners re-offending and providing safe and well-ordered establishments and solutions in which we treat those convicted of offences humanely, decently and lawfully.
The custody estate in the UK consists of adult prisons, young offenders institutions and secure training centres. The majority of these are run by the Prison Service but the UK also has significant experience in terms of privately run prisons and detention centres.
Community sentencing has been used widely in the UK and offender monitoring systems, managed by private security companies (reporting breaches to police) are well established.
The JSi brochure appears to have been created on “Thu 06 Mar 2014 11:35:13 GMT”.
By coincidence, the JSi brochure also happens to use exactly the same distinctive “legal disclaimer” language as the glossy brochures of PricewaterhouseCoopers.
This is the date stated in Grayling’s October 2013 speech for the formal launch of JSi. There appears to be no public statement in respect of the launch.
There is no mention of Just Solutions international in the 2013-14 Annual Report of Ministry of Justice (for year ending 31 March 2014).
According to the December 2014 mid-year report (see below), JSi submit “a £5.9m proposal to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ministry of Finance to conduct a training needs analysis across all the learning and development programmes within the Saudi Arabian Prison Service”.
We are also are told later that “[a]lso in August, JSi submitted a large scale bid to the Royal Oman Police (ROP) proposing assistance for the design of a new prison. Discussions are currently taking place with ROP about further learning and development training programmes”.
Grayling signs a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Saudi government.
The MoJ have since refused to disclose what the Memorandum of Understanding contains.
In December 2014 comes the first express mention of JSi in any official MoJ document – the (second) so-called “mid-year report” of the Ministry of Justice , covering April to September 2014:
Just Solutions international (JSi), is the commercial brand for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) promoting products and services to international justice markets.
In August 2014, JSi submitted a £5.9m proposal to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ministry of Finance to conduct a training needs analysis across all the learning and development programmes within the Saudi Arabian Prison Service.
Also in August, JSi submitted a large scale bid to the Royal Oman Police (ROP) proposing assistance for the design of a new prison. Discussions are currently taking place with ROP about further learning and development training programmes”.
JSi has also recently won a bid to the value of £848k (€1,071k) to provide support with the development of a Probation Service in Macedonia.
The shadow Lord Chancellor Sadiq Khan begins to take an interest, and he asks the following written question
Sadiq Khan (Tooting): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what contracts his Department has awarded to Just Solutions International in each of the last five years; what the value and length of each such contract is; and with whom in his Department each such contract was signed.
And he also asks:
Sadiq Khan (Tooting): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether Just Solutions International is a contractor or a sub-contractor in the current electronic monitoring contract.
As of 10 February 2015, I cannot trace answers to these questions.
Sadiq Khan asks the following written question
Sadiq Khan (Tooting): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, which countries Just Solutions International (JSI) has worked with since it was established; what contracts it has with foreign companies; what visits Ministers in his Department have made relating to JSI; and what payments JSI has received from foreign contracts.
[Add 10 Februray 2015] This was answered on 10 February 2015 as follows:
Just Solutions International (JSi) is a brand within the National Offender Management Service (NOMS). Over the last two years, NOMS has worked with the following countries, some of them under the JSi brand. As the NOMS commercial work through the JSi brand is not separated out from non-commercial international work, the list below simply indicates where a charge to the country or the EU was applied (*). This does not include visits by other Governments to the UK for purposes of information exchange:
Cayman Islands (*)
NOMS does not have any contracts with foreign companies related to commercial work routed through the JSi brand and has not previously entered into any nor received payments relating to such contracts.
No Ministerial visits abroad have been arranged to support NOMS’ commercial work.
Specifics of payments for commercial contracts delivered cannot be provided as they are commercially sensitive.
Part of the rationale for our work with other countries is to impact positively on human rights practices. We believe that by bringing our standards on issues such as human rights into international delivery we will improve detention practices. Our correctional services provide a gold standard in human rights, and are well viewed by other Governments who take a similar view to us on the paramount importance of the protection and promotion of human rights. When other countries approach us for assistance, we are clear that we will only offer advice and support that complies with our own stringent human rights standards.
It has been government policy for many years to work with overseas governments and help them develop their criminal justice systems.
Khan also asks the following written question:
Sadiq Khan (Tooting): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what Just Solutions International’s operating profit or loss has been in each of the last five years.
The latter question was answered on 8 January 2015:
Just Solutions International is not a trading body but is part of the National Offender Management Service. It does not therefore make separate profits or losses.
The public flogging of a writer in Saudi Arabia prompts interest in JSi’s commercial proposal to the Saudis.
Somebody spots the mention in the December 2014 mid-year report and alerts journalist David Hencke. On 10 January 2015, Hencke reports on the Saudi commercial proposal at Tribune and then later on 16 January 2015 on his own blog.
18 January 2015 – Grayling is asked about the proposed Saudia deal by Andrew Neil on the Sunday Politics. Grayling says: “It is right and proper that we as a nation try to work with other nations to improve their systems.” and “This is something I am looking at very carefully.”
20 January 2015 – my FT post on the proposed Saudi deal.
23 January 2015, the MoJ press office having refused to answer my intial questions on JSi, provide the following answers:
1. Can I please have a copy of the MoU signed between the Secretary of State and Saudi – https://twitter.com/UKinSaudiArabia/status/510040242481799168/photo/1
A) This is a shared document with the Saudi government so we are not in a position to publish it at present.
2. Can I please have a copy of the commercial proposal put to the Saudis
A) This is a bid that is under consideration in a competitive process and contains commercially confidential information.
3. Can you provide full details to what is to be offered to the Saudis under the commercial proposal
A) See answer 2. What we can say is that the bid relates to scoping of staff training and organisational design only.
4. Can you provide set out the extent of the civil service resources which are to be used in the proposal
A) If approved the bid will be fully funded by the client Government, will not cost the British tax payer a single penny and will generate a surplus to be used to support our own services.
5. When is the proposal expected to be signed?
A) Our bid is under consideration and may not be successful. We do not know the timing of bid evaluation and decision making – this depends on the pace of the Saudi Procurement process.
6. What is the answer to Amnesty’s questions as follows: Beyond the usual aspirational language, can Chris Grayling demonstrate that Just Solutions international will actually be able to concretely improve detention practices in Saudi Arabia without becoming complicit in abuse? For example, is JSi going to be challenging and seeking to prevent abuses when it comes across malpractice, and indeed what human rights safeguards and training are going to be built into any programme?
A) We believe that by bringing our standards on issues such as human rights into international delivery we will improve detention practices. We should recognise that our correctional services are well viewed by other Governments who also understand our approach to human rights. When other countries approach us for assistance therefore they do so in full knowledge that we will only offer advice and support that complies with our own human rights standards. We have already seen and challenged practice in other countries and have been instrumental in the change of practice in other countries.
7. What is the current budget for JSi?
A) Any commercial work undertaken by NOMS falls within the overall NOMS budget. The aim is that it covers the costs of NOMS commercial and other international work and generates a surplus to invest in our own services.
8. Other than the mid-term report, what mention has there been of JSi in any official publications?
A) There is a reference to JSi in the UKTI Security Exports Strategy (2014)
9. What is the headcount for JSi?
A) NOMS has a team which covers international work and externally funded programmes. Some of the Civil Servants in this team will also deliver the Commercial work as well as the non-commercial part of the job.
10. Who paid for the “.com” website for JSi and why is it not a “.gov.uk” website?
A) Hosting is funded by income generated and the website development was done by internal NOMS staff. The decision to create an external site was made as a result of an accreditation process that required a web presence that is separate to the MoJ site.
11. Why has the Secretary of State now said he is looking at the Saudi proposal carefully? What does this mean in practice?
A) All international activity considered by NOMS is subject to a careful assessment process and sign off by MoJ; FCO and our local Embassies. This includes an assessment about whether our possible activity would improve human rights outcomes. This process was completed prior to our bid to Saudi. We would expect to repeat this process if the Saudi Government decided to offer NOMS the contract. In that case the Secretary of State would have the opportunity to review the earlier decision in the light of current issues and considerations. The final decision may be to continue to contract (should it be offered) or to withdraw from the process.
12. Can you set out the commercial experience/expertise of those engaged in the JSi project? A quick look at open-source sources reveals little or no commercial experience/expertise at all;
A) Within the Unit delivering this we have a range of people with private sector and commercial background.
13. can you identify all private sector organisations/consultancies involved in the JSi project.
A) None currently
In your correspondence with [civil servant] you also raised the issue of the Cornerhouse [sic] case and asked whether it is appropriate for the Lord Chancellor and the MoJ to be entering into a commercial relationship with the Saudi state. Here is a statement on that particular issue:
A MoJ spokesperson said:
“The British Government’s position on human rights is a matter of public record and we regularly raise our human rights concerns with the Saudi Arabian authorities at the highest level. No aspect of our commercial relationships prevents us from speaking frankly and openly to them about these or other issues.”
Hencke does a further post on 26 January 2015.
27 January 2015 – MoJ refuse to answer any further questions on JSi.
28 January 2015 – Amnesty International write to MoJ.
The following exchange takes place at oral questions for the Secretary of State to Justice on 3 February 2015:
Sadiq Khan (Tooting) (Lab): We already know how little the Justice Secretary thinks of our international human rights obligations, given that he wants to repeal the British Human Rights Act and walk away from the European convention on human rights. What is the Ministry of Justice’s motivation for signing a £5.9 million contract with a country whose justice system is widely condemned for the use of torture—which is what a sentence of 1,000 lashes amounts to—and of execution by beheading?
Chris Grayling: We have not signed a contract. Under this Government and under the last one, our Departments have worked with other Governments around the world to try to encourage improvements and best practice in their justice systems. I believe that that is the right thing to do. We should try to influence countries to move their justice systems in the right direction, and we will continue to do that.
Sadiq Khan: I look forward to hearing about the best practice for beheading.
Sadiq Khan also asks the following written question
Sadiq Khan (Tooting): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what consultant, non-executive directors and associates have worked with Just Solutions International since it was established; when each such person was appointed; and what the remuneration of each such person for that work is.
Footnote: LinkedIn evidence on the range of JSi activity
Other than the JSi brochure and website, there is public domain information on the activities of JSI on the LinkedIn profiles of JSi “directors”. This cannot be dated exactly (at least by me). I do not propose to link to the pages of individual JSi staff, but the information is as follows.
According to the 2015 LinkedIn profile of one “director” of JSi:
Just Solutions International (JSi) is the commercial vehicle for the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) that provides access to the knowledge, skills and intellectual property of the Ministry of Justice in England and Wales. JSi that we can scope and develop solutions for governments and criminal justice agencies across the world.
Using the success achieved in modernising the justice system in the UK we have successfully developed and delivered programmes in the Middle East, North Africa and the Caribbean. Using staff and other resources from the UK MoJ and the National Offender Management Service and our partners our offer is broad and tailored to our customers and partners, and can span the following:
– Consultancy based advice and review of current prison or community corrections/probation services;
– Reducing Reoffending programme design including payment by results; offender learning and employment; offence-specific interventions;
– Benchmarking to ensure that costs of prisons and community sentences services are understood and providing value for money;
– Staff learning and development in prison and community justice/probation services;
– Prison and police cell design and estates management systems;
– Procurement systems and supply chain management;
– IT based offender risk assessment and case management to Governments and Justice providers outside the UK.
Another LinkedIn profile of a JSi director is in similar terms:
JSi is a commercial vehicle that provides access to the knowledge, skills and intellectual property of the Ministry of Justice in England and Wales so that we can scope and develop solutions for governments and CJ agencies across the world.
Using the success achieved in modernising the Justice system in the UK we have successfully developed and delivered programmes in the Middle East; North Africa and Caribbean. Using staff and other resources from the UK MoJ and National Offender Management Service and our partners our offer is broad and tailored to our customers and partners and can span the following:
– Consultancy based advice and review of current prison or probation services;
– Reduce reoffending programme design including payment by results; Social Impact Bonds; offender learning and employment;
– Benchmarking to ensure that costs of prison and community sentence services are understood and providing value for money;
– Staff learning and development in prison and probation services;
– Prison and police cell design and estates management systems;
– Procurement systems and support to ensure the right services are contracted and that they are effectively managed;
– IT based offender risk assessment and case management to Governments and Justice providers outside the UK
– Intervention programmes to adjust the behaviour of offenders.
If there is any further information available, please post it below. Please do not name any civil servants.