A portrait of a small probation organisation: Geschäftsstelle Bewährungshilfe Liechtenstein

Geschäftsstelle Bewährungshilfe Liechtenstein team: Franz Hanich, Tamara Clare-Stupp, Manuela Haldner-Schierscher und Josef Köck. 

Every probation organisation in Europe is different from the other, although most of them have a lot of similarities. There are some that are different from all the others. I’m talking about the smallest member organisations of the CEP. In this special series of articles, you can read about what makes them special, how they function, about the positives of working in a small organisation and about the difficulties that are sometimes faced. The second probation service in this series is Geschäftsstelle Bewährungshilfe Liechtenstein. Director Josef Köck tells us about his organisation. 

With the Geschäftsstelle Bewährungshilfe Liechtenstein we added the smallest probation organisation in Europe to our series. The team consists of only four members that manage all sorts of tasks within the field of probation. Although three of the probation officers work part-time, they handle about 65 cases. Twenty to forty of them are conflict settlements, fifteen to thirty-five are mediation of charitable services, ten of the cases consist of coaching sessions in jail or providing the court with advise.

Josef Köck and his probation officers have been working together for over ten years, which makes the team very stable. “We have a very trustworthy, open and positive working atmosphere. The high level of collaboration within the team and thus the high level of satisfaction enables us to reach excellent results. In a small team, the motivation for this area of social work is an important condition for the probation service.” Every teammember needs to be trained for working with clients that have committed a wide variety of offences. “We have a highly qualified staff that regularly attends professional trainings. Continuing the education of staff is of importance.”

Volunteers

Besides the daily team, there is also a team of volunteers working for the Geschäftsstelle Bewährungshilfe Liechtenstein. “We have a small team of four experienced volunteers that work in the field of probation. It is my duty to lead both teams and to supervise them. I have a meeting with the voluntary team once a month.”

Disadvantages

According to Josef Köck a disadvantage of working in a small team is that the job comes with quite a high level of stress. “When cases are looking unpromising, the employee has to admit it and bear the consequences.” This disadvantage can also be turned into an advantage: “Within this organisation no team member shall be left alone in case of difficult situations.”

Differences

Small jurisdictions like Liechtenstein, have to deal with different kind of offences than bigger countries in Europe are facing right now. In a small country, for example electronic monitoring is not needed. “The country is too small, the cases too few and the equipement too expensive. Nevertheless, I have checked its applicability and developed a concept to show how it could be a benefit for our institution.”

One of the biggest problems European Probation services face nowadays, radicalisation, is not something the Geschäftsstelle Bewährungshilfe Liechtenstein has to conquer either. “Radicalisation  has not yet been an issue for us, but for example once we had to supervise four to five persons with regard to right-wing nationalist violence acts and a number of jobless young people with a migration background.”

Positives

Big organisations dispose a lot more resources and personalities, even professions, which can be very useful. This is not the case in Liechtenstein. They have a different kind of strength: their size. “A small probation service like ours, is able to develop customised and tailored solutions for individual cases.”

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