Following the professionalization of the CEP, the board designed 18 values on Probation which are to be presented and adopted at the coming General Assembly. These values will be useful in the cooperation with the European Union and the Council of Europe (CoE). The CEP values are in line with the Recommendation on Probation of the CoE which has been adopted recently. The Council for Penological Co-operation (PC-CP) drafted this Recommendation. “The CEP values are aiming specifically at bringing the probation staff closer to the most important principles contained in the Council of Europe Probation Rules on the one hand”, explains Ilina Taneva, Deputy Head of the Division of Crime Problems and Secretary of the PC-CP. “On the other hand they have the objective of assisting the staff in understanding and implementing those rules.”
The Recommendation on Probation CM/Rec (2010)1 came into effect on 20 January 2010 after it has been adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the CoE. “The recommendation is addressing the national authorities which should ensure the legal and practical basis needed for a high quality probation work”, says Ilina Taneva. “CEP participated in the drafting of the Recommendation. The PC-CP scientific experts, Professor Anton van Kalmthout (the Netherlands) and Rob Canton (UK) are also actively involved in the CEP activities. The cooperation with CEP has been very good even before this work. CEP is also among the organisations which have an observer status with the PC-CP”, tells Ms. Taneva regarding the cooperation between the PC-CP and the CEP during the development of the Recommendation on Probation.
The Probation values on the other hand, which are to be adopted at the General Assembly (GA) are meant to be a collective vision and set of basic values that are shared by all members. They are an attempt to create a common ground between European Probation Services, reflecting the core elements which binds them together. According to Ilina Taneva the 18 CEP values are highlighting and commenting the most important standards contained in the Recommendation on Probation.
“The Council of Europe is the only European intergovernmental organisation with an extensive standard-setting and monitoring work in the penitentiary field and has developed world-wide the most comprehensive texts in this area”, tells Ilina Taneva regarding the importance of the adopted Recommendation. “It is considered by the other international organisations (including the European Union which has no direct competence in this area) to be a reference body regarding human rights protection of offenders. The fact that the Committee of Ministers adopts the standard-setting texts ensures political commitment of the member States. The existing monitoring mechanisms and in the first place the European Court of Human Rights also engages the national authorities to implement the adopted standards”. The values on Probation of CEP in addition will help Probation Agencies to draw the public attention to what they stand for. Moreover, how can Probation Agencies implement the CoE Recommendation if they are not supporting the Probation values and principles?
“The practical relevance of the recommendations depends on the way their principles are reflected in the national legislation and practice, as well as on the national legal systems”, Ilina Taneva continues. “A recommendation leaves more liberty and flexibility to the states regarding how to implement it than a convention does. A recommendation is much easier replaced or updated than a convention. A good example in this respect are the European Prison Rules which have been updated three times so far and which are taken very seriously by the national authorities and have led to amendments in the legislation and practices of most countries”, explains Ilina Taneva.
Since the recommendations and the values of CEP have been created, developments in the Probation sector are expected. According to Ilina Taneva, “the Council of Europe Probation Rules have been adopted at a good time as probation services in many countries have recently undergone or are undergoing currently restructuring and re-definition of their tasks and guidance in this respect is sought internationally. The increased international cooperation in the penal field within the Council of Europe but also within the European Union is also an important factor enhancing these developments. But it is also for the probation services themselves to prove their efficiency and to gain the needed trust and respect of the authorities in order to show that the vast majority of offenders can be dealt with more effectively and humanely outside prisons”.
Regarding the differences and similarities of the recommendations and values, Ilina Taneva tells: “The 18 values of the CEP correlate with the rules and standards contained in the Council of Europe Probation Rules. They certainly do not have the ambition to comprise all aspects of probation as the term probation has differing meanings and scope throughout Europe. What these values aim at, in my opinion, is to highlight some of the most important aspects of probation which despite the different national systems are accepted by all services responsible for the execution of community sanctions and measures. The values are addressing in the first place the practitioners who work with offenders, while as the Recommendation is addressing also the national authorities which should ensure the legal and practical basis needed for a high quality probation work”.
“Besides, I think CEP has anyhow an important role to play in the development of the probation sector. It has a rising number of probation services and staff joining as members and organises regularly seminars and conferences on topical issues of interest and use for all its members. It has developed a vast network throughout Europe and can be a valuable partner in the reform of probation in Europe”, Ilina Taneva concludes.