This article is written by Gisella Conrad, she has been working for the International Desk of the Dutch Probation Service since April 2016.
The International Desk was founded in 2012. We perform executive, coordinating and advisory work regarding the transfers of probation measures within the European Union.
It was anticipated that the amount of transfer cases that the probation officers need to deal with would increase, that’s why the Netherlands opted for an International Desk as a source for information for probation officers nationwide. We support probation workers with information and advice on the European Framework Decisions 947, 829 and to a lesser extent 909. In concrete terms, this means that we provide them with information about the feasibility of conditional sentences in other EU countries. The probation officers consult us to determine whether a proposed conditional sentence is feasible in the other member state. Among other things we inform them about the time limits of the probation period. In addition, the International Desk serves as an information point for the central authority to review the enforceability of the sanctions within the Dutch Probation Service.
The International Desk has developed work descriptions (factsheets) for various parts of the probation service:
- The supervisor who has questions about an incoming supervision from another member state can approach the International Desk with these questions.
- A probation officer who has to draw up an advisory report on an EU citizen can approach us to discuss whether it is advisable to recommend a conditional sentence. If an advisory report has to be drawn up for the court hearing, we provide written instructions to the advisors that can be added to the advisory report. The written instruction briefly states that the advice, if imposed, can be transferred to another EU member state based on the Framework Decisions. The contact details of the central authority are also mentioned in the written instruction. There are also short lines that note all the parties that are involved.
- The community service employees also contact us regarding transfer requests of convicted persons.
The strength of the International Desk
What we notice is that we are approached on a daily basis by supervisors, advisers and the community service employees who have questions about European transfer cases. Often we explain procedures and how to deal with such transfer cases. We explain that having social ties in the country where the convicted person wants to perform his sentence is an important condition. We also check whether the person has an address in the country concerned. Furthermore, we explain to our colleagues what the further judiciary process looks like. We also provide presentations at probation offices in the country. We mainly visit the offices in the border areas that have many transfer cases in our neighboring countries.
The effect of our work is that our colleagues are more aware of feasible transfer requests.
Cooperation with Central Authority
Important to mention is that we consult with our central authority on a daily basis and approximately twice a year we set up a meeting. The cooperation between our organisations and on which points it needs adjustment are discussed. Details of current transfer cases are also discussed if necessary.
Important role of probation organizations
The probation service is an important partner in the transfer of sentences. We encourage other probation organisations in the European Union to investigate how they can play a constructive role in this matter in their own country. After all, there is no doubt that both the client and the society benefit from resocialisation in their own country.