This month, the International Office of the Dutch Probation Service celebrated its 40th anniversary. This was also a moment to present the research report: “Recruited, gambled, arrested and supported”, the International Office of the Dutch Probation Service: practice and legitimisation of its work with Dutch citizens in foreign prisons, by Expertise Center for Safety Policy and Criminal Justice (Avans University of Applied Sciences) and the Dutch Probation Service.

Compared to other countries, the number of Dutch adult citizens imprisoned abroad is quite large. In 2013, almost 30% of the entire population of Dutch prisoners were in imprisonment abroad, meaning they were either in custody and awaiting their trial, or convicted to a prison sentence.

The International Office assists these people within a voluntary framework. In the Netherlands, 10 regional coordinators are cooperating with a global network consisting of around 330 volunteer visitors. Apart from the assistance of Dutch citizens imprisoned abroad, the International Office has two other main tasks: the International desk, that performs executive, coordinating and advisory activities for the transfer of criminal sentences between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the other Member States of the European Union, and thirdly international cooperation in the field of social rehabilitation.

The research report seeks answers to 2 main questions.

The first principal question was focussed on an evaluation of the practice of the International Office: the client group, the goals of the services provided, the use of interventions to reach these goals, and their impact. Questions that arose were: What are the characteristics of the Dutch citizens imprisoned abroad and their family / network? What do they need and expect from the regional coordinator and the volunteer of the International Office? To what extent and how are these needs and expectations met? What are the supplementary goals and activities deployed by the International Office? What influence does this practice have on the prisoners and their family/network?

The International Office’s second principal question was more fundamental and focussed on justification of the existence of the International Office (as organisation) and its practice: Which arguments or foundations justify this organisation and practice?

To read more, you can download the  English summary of the report. If you would like to receive the full report in Dutch, you can contact

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