STOP the road traffic offences
In these times, more than ever, we are trying to do our best to preserve our safety and the spirit of probation work, to keep on polishing our skills and pro-social attitudes and, above all, to keep alive our determination and our probationers’ motivation. For this reason we are focused on the positive aspects of our practices, but at the same time trying to find the best way to disseminate these aspects through the current communication channels, in order to maintain our staff and probationers’ safety. In this philosophy, we don`t put aside our work – on the contrary, we are continuing to develop alternatives ways to perform probation activities such as a newly established intervention program – STOP the road traffic offences – to support the reintegration of people who have committed road traffic offences, people who are registered in the databases of our 42 local probation offices.
According to European statistics, Romania is still on the black list regarding the high number of road victims per 1 million of inhabitants. As a consequence, Romanian probation is on the top of the list for numbers of road traffic offences among the total number of probationers. In January 2020, over 32,000 probationers were under the supervision of the probation counsellors, due to a road traffic offence. The seed of our new program was initially `planted` by the local services, starting with Cluj Probation Service (in the middle of Romania – Transylvania region), who developed such activities in collaboration with the local traffic police. Collecting these experiences, the probation inspectors from the Methodological and Training Department and from Research and Strategic Development Department of the Romanian National Probation Directorate, together with probation counsellors and representatives from police and non-governmental organizations working with road traffic victims, designed a flexible but multimodal program.
A new intervention program
The need to develop a new intervention program in this area of practice was the fact that currently the Romanian probation system is successfully running the Drink & Drive program addressing the problematic behaviour in traffic, more specifically driving while intoxicated – and therefore not covering all road traffic related offenses. STOP the road traffic offences is designed to be applied by mixed teams of program tutors: probation counsellors, traffic police officers, prevention criminality analysts and other professionals from the community interested in reducing the risk of accidents on public roads. The program has a modular structure that allows the intervention to be adapted to various criminogenic needs of the probationers, being structured on a basic module and then one or more optional ones. The program can be carried out, if necessary, depending on the particularities of the cases by decision of the probation counsellor case manager or at the request of the supervised person. Options can be to deeper analyse the offence, get closer to the victim’s perspective, perform reparatory actions for victims and community, follow more road traffic courses, or learn about preventive driving. Some of these optional modules provided for the program could be developed if there are such opportunities at the local community level.
The basic module is mandatory and contains of 4 sessions that aim to support participants to obtain information regarding the traffic legislation, to analyse and understand the mechanisms of behaviour and the decisional process on the roads, to be aware of the favourable factors for crimes related to road traffic safety and develop the ability to control such factors – all these with the aim to reduce the risk of recidivism. The entire program has an interactive atmosphere with various short films, scenes from traffic, real experiences of ex-probationers to be analysed and discussed in a neutral manner such as traffic events, and then in a subjective one, from the personal point of view of the members of the group and with a focus on their own offences. In a short period of time (19 August – 7 October 2020), in the “new normal”, we succeeded to deliver 6 online training sessions and 3 face-to-face training sessions – always keeping the necessary safety arrangements, for 135 probation counsellors from all our 42 counties, who are now piloting the program. The emotions and fears experienced in the uncertainty (a new program designed in-house and delivered through new ways of communication) were counterbalanced by the good interactivity during the trainings, by the interest in learning and using this program and by the enthusiasm of doing our work during such difficult times.
We promise to return with news, impressions, and results after the stage of piloting the program that should unroll with caution and care for our staff and our probationers’ safety.
Article written by Ramona Lăcrămioara Bălăiță