Following the controversial part-privatisation of probation in England and Wales, one of the leading private probation providers appointed Eterna Partners in February 2018 to build relationships and educate key media and political stakeholders to differentiate the company from its competition.
The principle of the private sector delivering public services is divisive and companies doing the work are unloved. Eterna had to shift the debate away from ideology and towards service delivery. This meant focusing on operational outcomes, transparency and new evidence-based approaches to tackle local crime trends and threats. Key moments in the campaign included the launch of a new programme to tackle harassment offences in response to a surge of related crimes in the company’s region. Eterna developed a strong narrative for the company and developed a briefing and engagement programme for local and national politicians and media.
The campaign resulted in widespread local and national positive media coverage, focusing on the company’s record of delivery and innovation. The company was acknowledged in the media as performing at a higher level than other firms and the Secretary of State for Justice praised the innovative programmes in the House of Commons and to MPs on the justice committee. Local MPs also praised the “great work” to support offenders in the region and the police and crime commissioner voiced support on the record for the new initiatives. Partly as a consequence of the firm’s positive profile, the Ministry of Justice has appointed the company to deliver additional services, effectively doubling the size of the organisation and turning it into one of the UK’s largest provider of probation services.