CEP and EGPA, the European Group for Prisoners Abroad, have joined forces. Since last March, EGPA goes on as the CEP Expert Group on Foreign Nationals. “Thanks to this structure, CEP has now a lot of specialist knowledge on an increasingly important matter in probation”, says Margareta Lindholm, CEP vice-president. “I think this topic will be an issue for all our member organisations in the coming years. Therefore we will focus attention on the specific needs of foreign national prisoners.”

The European Group for Prisoners Abroad (EGPA) was a network of independent organisations which support European citizens imprisoned outside their country of residence and away from their families. “In prison systems in many European countries, working with foreign national prisoners has already a very high priority. Without any doubt this soon will be the case for probation services as well”, predicts Pauline Crowe, Chief Executive of Prisoners Abroad in the UK and one of the members of the CEP Expert Group on Foreign Nationals.

Due to the increased mobility of EU-citizens, the number of foreign national prisoners is rising in every country in Europe. “As the vast majority of CEP member organisations are not active on this topic, I think this cross-national issue may add a new dimension to our probation work”, says Margareta Lindholm, who is the CEP liaison person for the Expert Group on Foreign Nationals. “Working with this new group of offenders prompts us to reflect on our strategy in prevention of re-offending. CEP can support this process now with its Expert Group on Foreign Nationals.”

Although foreign national prisoners are becoming an increasingly important group in the prison and probation sector, EGPA has been struggling to find exposure. “Our network consists of mainly small organisations”, explains Pauline Crowe. “We feel that we can strengthen the work of our network partners by sharing our knowledge more widely. By becoming the CEP Expert Group on Foreign Nationals, we can achieve that. If a member organisation of CEP has a request for information on foreign national prisoners, we are happy to respond it.”

The new expert group of CEP will make a name for itself when from the 16th until the 17th of October an international workshop will be held on foreign national prisoners. “The title of the workshop is ‘Foreigners in European prisons: sharing best practice’. It will be held in Nieuwersluis, in the Netherlands”, Pauline Crowe says. As soon as we know more about the workshop, we will inform CEP members through the newsletter.”

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