During the General Assembly and Directors General Conference that took place in Dubrovnik, CEP presented the five CEP Awards to its winners. With the awards CEP would like to celebrate outstanding contributions to probation within Europe. We were glad to receive all the impressive submissions of which the following winners are chosen. Congratulations!

Rehabilitation in the community

The winner of the CEP Rehabilitation in the Community Award is the project Project You Matter Too (UM2) by the Czech Republic.

This program focuses on working with offenders of violent crimes to develop their empathy, increase accountability to victims, address the impact of crime and redress.

To develop its work, The Probation and Mediation Service (the Service) implements projects aimed at innovating existing practices, especially to strengthen the restorative approach to solving the consequences of criminality, correct offenders (clients of the Service) and mitigating the risks of recidivism.

Between the years 2016-2020, the Service implemented the project called Fragile Chance II co-financed by the European Social Fund. One of the goals was to create a new restorative programme in cooperation with the Prison Service of the Czech Republic, which would focus on increasing the responsibility of offenders, strengthening their empathy and perception of victims of crime, strengthening insight into their criminal activities, and understanding risk factors related to their behaviour. The intention was to implement the programme in prisons, where the variety of activities for prisoners was lacking a similar programme, and thus expand the possibilities of penitentiary care in the Czech Republic. Thanks to its success, the programme was eventually implemented in 13 prisons across the Czech Republic. This was followed by the project Back to Life co-financed by the Norwegian Funds (2020-2024) aimed at improving the resocialization of offenders. Under this project, the UM2 was transferred into the resocialisation programme for offenders serving sentences outside a prison. The methodological materials were adjusted regarding the specifics of the implementation outside the closed prison environment.

The target group of the programme implemented outside prison is an offender who has committed a violent crime in which the victim has been involved.

The UM2 is designed as a group educational program with social therapeutic elements. The group usually consists of 8-10 participants (offenders) who are actively working to mend the harm caused by the crime. Each group is led by two lecturers who follow the structure defined by the programme manual.

In the first part of the programme, clients are introduced to the victims’ feelings in general. These general principles are then applied to the client’s criminal act and on those persons affected by it. With the support of the entire group and lecturers, clients try to define the causes and circumstances of their offences. Understanding and empathy for the victim and an understanding of the extent of the damage they have done are encouraged. The next lessons of the programme aim to strengthen responsible behaviour and accept responsibility for one’s (past and future) actions, first in general and then at a specific level. With an emphasis on restorative principles, the goal is to find and name possible and appropriate ways to remedy or atone for committed offences and the group focuses on positive commitments for the future.

Sue Hall – Social Inclusion

The winner of the CEP Social Inclusion Award is the project Yellow Ribbon Run by the Czech Republic.

The Yellow Ribbon Run is a preventive and educational event that has been running in the Czech Republic since 2016. The inspiration comes from Singapore, where the run of the same name with accompanying events to support the integration of people with criminal backgrounds has been held since 2008. The run takes place in Prague in 4 x 4 km relay mode.

The project is implemented by a platform consisting of three engaged institutions – the Probation and Mediation Service, the Prison Service of the Czech Republic and the non-profit organization RUBIKON Centrum, which helps former prisoners return to normal life.

The aim of the Yellow Ribbon project is to draw the general public’s attention to the issue of the return of prisoners to freedom and to show them that our support is important to them. The project aims to give people with a criminal background and their families a second chance and thus increase their hope of successfully adapting to life after their release from prison. The project falls into the area of secondary crime prevention by seeking to reduce recidivism and increase the safety of life of the widest community.

Representatives of engaged institutions employees of the Probation and Mediation Service, Prison Service and the Ministry of Justice, lawyers, judges, public prosecutors, employers of people with criminal backgrounds, families of convicts, but also the general public, VIP personalities from the field of sports and culture, the conviction themselves, whether still in prison or after release, and victims of crime, they all meet here. The number of registered runners is increasing every year, with dozens of participants in the first year of the project increasing to 650 participants in the last year. Informal contact between different social groups takes place at the race site and at accompanying events, all of which have a common goal and interest: to integrate the perpetrators into everyday life and to help them repair the damage they have caused to the victims and the community.

The ambassador of the project is the well-known Czech actor and screenwriter Petr Čtvrtníček, who became the drummer of the prison band Wsedě in 2019. The prisoners composed and, with the support of professional musicians, recorded an introductory song for the project called The Cage fell – see the recording on video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEGrIgfOrjs

The run itself is followed by other accompanying events, such as joining a concert held in the Senate of the Czech Republic, holding discussions with public or a traveling exhibition of photos with stories of participants “Escape from prejudice or Yellow Ribbon in Motion”. The photo exhibition with the support of local governments is very successful in many cities in the Czech Republic. The project platform continues to develop these activities and create their content in cooperation with representatives of various professions and volunteers.

This year, the project set out to draw attention to another dimension of the damage caused by the offender – the effects of imprisonment on the lives of the offenders’ children.


Public protection

The winner of the CEP Public Protection Award is the project Eden House, Approved premises for women by the Interventions Alliance.

In total, there are currently 100 Approved Premises across England and Wales, which are premises that are approved under Section 13 of the Offender Management Act 2007 (England and Wales) to provide accommodation and resettlement predominantly for those offenders who are considered to present a high or very high risk of serious harm. Prior to June 2021, of the 100 Approved Premises, only 11 of these were for female offenders and 10 were independently run, with the rest being managed and run by the Probation Service.

Following Interventions Alliance implementing their own Women’s Strategy and conducting research in relation to provision for female offenders, they made the decision to open a new Independent Approved Premises for female offenders . This is the first AP of its kind to be opened in the Southwest of England and Wales regions of the United Kingdom, and the first IAP to be opened in 33 years. After a significant amount of work in ensuring that the premises was a safe, comfortable and enabling environment for its residents; ensuring that the best candidates possible were put into roles and given a significant amount of training to be able to undertake their roles; that stringent policies and procedures were put in place to be able to effectively and safely manage an IAP, Interventions Alliance opened the doors of Eden House in Bristol in June 2021.
Eden House is a 26-bedroom property designed for women. It provides a secure and structured environment, enabling close monitoring and supervision of residents’ behaviour and compliance with any additional requirements, which may include bail or licence conditions and round the clock specialised support. The specialist monitoring and support at Eden House plays a significant part in protecting the public by reducing the risk of reoffending and harm, promoting rehabilitation and wherever possible, helping residents reintegrate into their local community. Women at Eden House engage in trauma-informed therapy and tailored individual and/or group sessions and activities designed to build self-esteem, help residents reconnect with families, overcome addiction, find work, secure a permanent home and assist with any other issues a resident at Eden House may be experiencing.

Eden House prides itself on the belief that it is never too late to live a life to be proud of. It offers a place of safety where residents are valued, respected, heard and empowered to take their first steps in the right direction. In working to change residents’ behaviour, Eden House plays an integral part in protecting the public by working with residents to address the issues contributing to their offending behaviour, reducing the risk of further harmful behaviour. In creating Eden House’s introductory video, a resident asked for their voice to be included in this and offered the following insight into their feelings about Eden House:
“Eden House is a safe haven where staff work with us and demonstrate how it will be benefit us and you feel that staff genuinely care about you. Eden House feels encouraging rather than feeling pressurised.”


Development of National Probation Services

The winner of the CEP Development of National Probation Services Award is the project Project on a process of developing services by the Prison and Probation Service of Finland.

In the past years, the Prison and Probation Service of Finland has created a contemporary way to perceive what kind of services we and our cooperation partners can offer our clients. In our view clients are service users. Thus, we offer and refer them to services to support them in their efforts to lead a life free of addictions and criminal behaviour. To enhance this way of thinking we have drafted service maps on national and local level, by which we outline the services that we in the agency together with stakeholders in the society can offer. The intention is to clarify by service maps to our clients and to our cooperation partners which local services are available in each community sanctions office. The local service maps derive from the national one, including also purely local services. Service maps cannot be totally inclusive and naturally the situation is not stable: some services disappear while others are created. The content of service maps is divided up into 8 specific areas of client work.

The actual project started in the fall of 2020 when we took initiative to visualize how many tools and interventions we and our partners can offer to clients that have been sentenced to a community sanction. With the project we wanted to develop common understanding as well as the quality of client work by developing and supporting the ordinary, everyday work of the probation officers and supervisors. This was done by gathering materials with specific assignments including instructions on one website.

Using competence assessments as a tool the probation officers were instructed to choose 3 client work areas, to pick out assignments that were beneficial for them, then study the entities carefully and apply them on client cases. Clients were asked for feedback and officers performed a self-assessment. Thereafter they would prepare to present their experiences and describe the materials to colleagues in team meetings. The supervisors were instructed to support and coach the probation officers during the whole process. The process lasted for about a year during which all 8 client work areas were worked through in team meetings of all community sanctions offices. Knowledge was shared and everyone’s competence was highlighted.

The supervisors were supported in monthly coaching meetings. The client work areas, exercises and the linked materials were worked through one by one. Feedback was collected from the supervisors on each area of client work during the whole process.

The role of the supervisors is crucial in implementation of high-quality client work, therefore a handbook including e.g. coaching methods and a vast variety of concrete tools and tips for everyday supervisory situations was created. Exploring the supervisors’ handbook starts with self-assessment. Based on the assessment the supervisor chooses some areas of work to be strengthened and picks related tools to try them out in practice. The superior of the supervisor supports the learning process.


 

Research

The winner of the CEP Research Award is Julia Audick with her research Supervision of probation during the crisis by the Bewährungs-und Gerichtshilfe Baden-Württtemberg

The effects of the Corona pandemic have demanded a rather unusual and challenging private and professional everyday life from all of us, which has caused changes in customary sequences as well as serious restrictions. The Probation and Judicial Assistance has also stopped personal client contacts as of 16th of March 2020 with only few exceptions. The contact with clients, which were most exclusively by telephone has fundamentally changed the usual counseling setting and the structure of the daily work of our probation officers. Nevertheless, BGBW’s mandate and services are continued to be offered during the crisis.

The pandemic has prompted the Central Department of Social Work in Probation and Judicial Assistance to take a closer look. The questions of how subordination to a probation officer is designed in times of crisis and how the task of helping and supervising in such extreme conditions can be implemented with the clients were of particular interest. This has led to a study entitled “Supervision of probation during the crisis“. The study, which covers Baden-Württemberg in total, consists evaluations of memos from electronic client documentation and a questionnaire in which probation officers were asked about their assessment. The evaluation of the memos was carried out on the one hand randomly with two files per month within the 9 BGBW facilities for the months from April to September 2020 and an additional evaluation of memos provided by employees who participated in the survey voluntarily. The results refer to a total of 51 file notes. The questionnaire was completed by 52 probation officers.

The results for April and May 2020 and the evaluation of the questionnaire yield interesting findings. In summary, it can be said that the study has succeeded in taking stock of the overall design of “supervision of probation during the crisis“ on the one hand, and on the other, in shedding light on the experience and assessment of this special situation from the perspective of practitioners. Based on the questions posed, this sample shows that the support of professional helpers was guaranteed for the clients of the BGBW. The assessments of the asked practitioners allow the conclusion for the BGBW that telephone consultation and/or consultation by video chat could be a serious option for suitable cases in future. In this respect, the results show how important it is for social work to remain flexible and adaptable. The main focus should be on how to reach the addressees in the best possible way in order to fulfill their mandate even in unforeseen crisis situations such as those we were or are currently experiencing. The identification of different dynamics and observations during the past months illustrates that the gained experience can certainly be used profitably in the future for the design of the care context between probation officer and client.

 

More info about CEP Awards or previous editon, click here

To see the highly commended and runner-up list, Click here

 


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