At 14th -15th July 2011 the EU project Developing the Use of Technical Tools for Cross-Border Resettlement (DUTT) had its public launch with a small event in London. In DUTT project partners from England&Wales, Latvia and the Netherlands will study how videoconferencing techniques (VCT) and touch screen facilities (TSF) can be used to support the transfer of prisoners and offenders subject to community sanctions as stipulated in the EU Framework Decisions 2008/909/JHA and 2008/947/JHA. “In the project we are faced with a double challenge: no one has experience with a Framework Decision transfer, and no one has experience in using VCT and TSF in these criminal procedures”, indicates Sabine Braun, researcher from University of Surrey.
According to these Framework Decisions the EU Member States should take all necessary measures to ensure that, from December of this year, EU nationals convicted in another EU Member State than his country of residence can serve their sentence in their country of residence. “This implies that there will be an increased need for cross-border communication between the relevant actors in the criminal justice systems from the EU Member States”, says Sabine Braun. “However, as we do not yet know which measures each Member State has taken or will take to implement the EU Framework Decisions, we do not know who need to talk to whom, and about what? For sure it will be from competent authority to competent authority. But will it also be from competent authority to probation service, from probation service to probation service or from probation service to offender? We are not sure yet.”
Therefore project partners form England&Wales, Latvia and the Netherlands have discussed how they think that a transfer between their countries would take place. “On the basis of this discussion we are developing scenarios of a possible transfer process”, Sabine Braun continues. “We will simulate the different transfer processes, using only VCT for our cross-border communication. The simulations will involve people who are familiar with the Framework Decision procedures. They will be asked for their perceptions of the simulations, and we will analyse the simulations to identify possible communication problems and make suggestions how these can be resolved. In previous project research that I have done this method has proven to be very helpful.”
The simulations are an important element in the project, which should provide the basis for a report on the effectiveness of VCT as a technical aid for cross-border transfer and for agreed protocols for using VCT in cross border criminal cases. In addition to the scenarios and simulations, the project will study the potential usage of multi-lingual TSF as a means of providing enhanced information to offenders to assist their transfer.
“Personally I think that I think that there is a great potential for modern communication technologies to enhance cross-border communication in criminal proceedings, but no one has used VCT and TFS in cross-border resettlement”, comments Sabine Braun. “Therefore we have to be cautious in using them. Previously I was involved in AVIDICUS, an EU project that explores the use of videoconference interpreting in criminal proceedings. Our research suggests that video-mediated interpreting is currently not suitable for very complex cases, or proceedings that are very long, or court trials in which many people are involved. Videoconferences make it more difficult to build a ‘rapport’ with the participants, and in our project, this led to various problems for the interpreters. This shows how important it is to research to which extent VCT can be a viable alternative for ‘in-person’ trial cases, before it is actually implemented.”
The final results of the DUTT project will be presented at the final conference of the project, which will be held on 22nd February 2013 in the Netherlands. The CEP Newsletter will report regularly on the progress of the project.
DUTT is lead by London Probation Trust. Project partners are the National Offender Management Service for England&Wales, the State Probation Service of Latvia, the Dutch Ministry of Justice, the Dutch Probation Service and CEP. For more information on DUTT, please contact email@example.com