By the end of this year any probation client from a EU member state will in principle have the right to do his community work or get his probation supervision in his country of origin. “It will be a great step forward”, states Bas Vogelvang, professor of probation services and safety policy at the Avans University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands. “Detention and probation are temporarily. It is meant to prepare and assist somebody to build up a crime free life. In the vast majority of cases this can best be done in the country where the probation client will live after his sanctions have ended: his country or origin. A Spaniard that has committed a lesser crime in Germany in most cases simply does not benefit as much from a German probation sanction than from a Spanish one.”
Judges do not deliver many community sanctions at this moment if the offender lives in another European country. A German football supporter that has vandalized a bus stop in the United Kingdom can hardly be expected to stay in the UK to serve a hundred hours of community sanctions, eight hours a week. Usually these kind of offenders are sentenced to a serious fine or to a short prison term. “The EU framework decision on probation makes it possible that this German gets sentenced to a community sanction, but serves his punishment at home in Germany”, explains professor Vogelvang. “This will mean increased cooperation between the German and English (and other European) probation organisations. They need to know each other’s systems and sanctions. They must also be able to adapt community sanctions given in another country to their own system if this sanction does not exist in their own country. Probation officers need to be trained to cope with these issues.”
Professor Vogelvang is therefore trying to set up a European curriculum for probation officers in the whole of Europe. “We have submitted our three-year project to the Erasmus Lifelong Learning programma of the European Union. The proposal – for which we hope funding will be granted in June 2011 – was developed by both academic centres and justice organisations, including organisations working in the fields of adult and juvenile probation and detention, in seven European countries. We will work closely together to develop and test the modules that will comprise our programme. The core module is the European one. It focuses on essential knowledge, skills and values that any probation officer in Europe should have. In cooperation with national and local educational and probation organisations we want to develop additional modules. These will combine the local situation and the European knowledge and skills of the core module. Apart from our modules for the regular training of probation officers, we also want to set up a summer school where students, professors/teachers and probation officers can share knowledge and expertise.”
Very little training
In countries like the Netherlands and the United Kingdom an elaborate training programme for probation officers already exists. Professor Vogelvang: “I can imagine that it will be quite easy to fit (some of) our modules into these programmes. In other countries there is only very little training of probation officers at this moment. These countries may benefit even more by using our modules to set up a more robust and comprehensive training programme. But I’m sure probation offices in countries like the Netherlands will also benefit from our modules. An example. Part of our core module will be blind spots regarding the cultural background of offenders. Young men from the Dutch Antilles have quite a criminal record in the Netherlands, statistically. How does their background contributed to get them in this situation? And how can their background be used to get them out of problems? These are issues any probation officer will be interested in.”
Better probation officers
Professor Vogelvang expects ‘quite a migration’ of people that will want to do their community sanctions in their country of origin. “Many probation organisations are already preparing themselves for the work to come. CEP is active in this field as well, as they should, of course. I am very convinced that our training programme will in time contribute to make the EU framework decision on probation a success. I’m also convinced that probation officers that have followed our programme will have a broader focus, more knowledge and more skills and will therefore be better equipped to assist and supervise their clients.”
What will the European curriculum for probation officers contain?
The objective of the project is to develop and disseminate a set of both high quality teaching modules and modules for continuing education in the field of criminal justice social work.
This set consists of:
1) Core skills:
– Working alliance/motivation/desistance identity/prosocial modeling
– Guidance & behavioral interventions/human capital
– Social capital (work/education/relationships)
– Supervision & risk management
2) Core knowledge:
3) Core values:
– Professionalism (integrity & other work related ethics)
– Human & societal values: punishment/restoration/inclusion
– Personal values regarding diversity & gender
4) Additional skills:
– Assessment & evaluation/writing & reporting
– Partnerships/continuity of care
– Personal safety/job satisfaction/job resilience
– Work planning/combining structure and flexibility
5) Additional knowledge:
– Law (EU law/frames/comparative/national criminal law/sentencing & measures/administration of justice/equality/professional secrecy
– Applied ethics/morality
– Diversity & gender in crime prevention
– Restorative justice
6) Additional values:
– Proportionality: combining guidance & punishment
– Discretion/professional space
– Integration of research practice/values regarding evidence-based work
What is developed where?
In the Conclusion project several partners will closely cooperate: Avans Centre for Criminal Justice and Safety and Utrecht University of Applied Sciences (the Netherlands), the University of Bucharest (Roumania), the Reims Faculty of Law and the École nationale d’administration pénitentiare (Enap – National Prison Service Academy) (France), the Community and Criminal Justice Division (CCJ) and the School of Applied Social Sciences (SASS) at De Montfort University (UK), the Criminal Justice Social Work Development Centre of the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR), T.C. Maltepe University (Turkey), the Dutch Probation Services, the Correctional Service of Norway Staff Academy (KRUS), Kriminalomsorgens (KO – Norwegian Correctional Services), the State Probation Service of Latvia, the University of Latvia and CEP itself. The themes will developed, tested and disseminated as follows:
Avans University and Utrecht University:
– Working alliance/motivation/desistance identity/prosocial modelling.
– Partnerships continuity of care.
– Applied ethics/morality.
– Professionalism (integrity & other work related ethics).
– Discretion/professional space.
– Partnerships continuity of care.
University of Bucharest:
– Social capital (work/education/relationships).
– Personal safety/job satisfaction/job resilience.
– Law (EU law/frames/comparative/national criminal law/sentencing & measures/administration of justice/equality/professional secrecy).
– Restorative justice,
– Human & societal values; punishment/restoration/inclusion.
De Montfort University:
– Guidance & behavioural interventions/human capital.
– Assessment & evaluation/writing & reporting.
– Personal values regarding diversity & gender.
– Integration of research practice/values regarding evidence-based work.
University of Reims-Champagne:
– Supervision & risk management.
– Work planning/combining structure and flexibility.
– Diversity & gender in crime prevention.
– Proportionality: combining guidance & punishment.