Due to some changes to the CEP Board in November 2023, CEP Board was happy to announce that Dr. Andrea Matouskova, Director General of the Czech Probation and Mediation Service, has been co-opted as an interim Board Member from 2023 to 2025. In this interview with Andrea she shares information on her professional background, how she would like to contribute, what challenges lie ahead and many more.

Enjoy reading!

Can you shortly introduce yourself? 

In 1995, I graduated from the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague, majoring in social work, and immediately joined the court in Prague as one of the first probation officers. In the years 1995-2000, I was one of the people who introduced probation and mediation into Czech practice through daily work with offenders and victims. Since 2001, when the Probation and Mediation Service was established in the Czech Republic, I started working at the Headquarters, where I headed the Methodological and Analytical Department until 2016. In the same year, I took up the position of Director General of the Probation and Mediation Service and since then I have been managing the Service.

At my alma mater, The Faculty of Arts, I lecture to social work students on restorative justice, probation, and working with victims of crime. As part of the CEVRO Institute in Prague, I teach students in the Alternative Dispute Resolution course to communicate effectively and clearly during mediation. I act as one of the state examiners for candidates for the mediation exam in the civil field. I expertly participate in the activities of the working group created within the Ministry of Justice for the development of mediation in the Czech Republic. I write and give lectures at home and abroad about my experience and the results of the Probation and Mediation Service. I live in the countryside, and I like nature, books, movies, music.

Why did you decide to run for the CEP Board?

I would like to be more involved in the discussion and decision-making about the priorities of the CEP activities, using the experience we have gained in the development of probation and mediation not only in the Czech Republic, but also in other European countries. During its establishment and development, the Czech Probation and Mediation Service has always drawn on foreign experience. We were inspired by the practice of probation services from England and Wales, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, as well as Canada. Together with our European partners, we have successfully implemented many international projects, and in recent years we have been involved in helping to introduce probation and mediation in countries where these systems are still developing. I look forward to being in more contact with the other members of the CEP Board and to be able to contribute and influence the further direction of the CEP in the next three years.

How would you like to contribute to the development of CEP in the upcoming three years and what impact do you hope to have on CEP

CEP is an expert platform to which the Probation and Mediation Service joined as a member in 2009. CEP has always provided us with opportunities for professional growth and direct contact with practitioners and experts from other countries. Now in my position as a member of the CEP Board, I would like to contribute to CEP continuing to create opportunities for sharing practical experience, inspiring each other and jointly searching for solutions to selected problems. The performance of probation and mediation in the Czech Republic is covered by one organization – the Probation and Mediation Service. This is due to the fact that we base all our procedures in probation and mediation on the principles of restorative justice from the very beginning. That is why we always look at the cases we discuss from three perspectives: the victim, the offender and the community. With this way of organizing work, not everyone does everything, but it is necessary to build a system of specializations and at the same time strengthen the element of cooperation. This model of work organization works in the Czech Republic, while other models work in other countries. I think there is no need to look for one universally working model and it is not even realistically possible. But it is possible to inspire each other in partial workflows. Over the next three years, I would like to focus on building a better mutual understanding of how to make probation truly empowering. And so that not only the probation officers understand it, but also the people with whom the probation officers work.

What are your main priorities/topics you would like to open while serving as the CEP Board member and how would you like to make use of your knowledge to the development of CEP?

In the last three years, I have been dealing with, among other things, how to communicate about our work with the general public. I use the word “communicate” on purpose, because it is not just about how to talk about our work. But also how to visualize it so that it is simple, fun and at the same time it does not slide on the surface. An essential element in communication is not only us who work in probation and mediation and communicate about it with the general public in various ways. The fact that the public is/is not informed about our work by the media has a big influence – what is written about our work in the newspapers, how we are talked about on the radio, what programs are broadcast about us on TV. I would like to introduce this topic into the CEP’s program priorities and participate in its development. In every country and in every probation service, we have experience in this direction, we know well-functioning and less-functioning procedures. It is worth inspiring each other and creating together. I remember how in October 2021, together with CEP, we organized a conference in Prague on the past and future of probation with a focus on restorative justice and inter-agency cooperation. And how innovative some of the speakers approached their presentations on the probation service. I really enjoyed how the format changed, but not the content. And that is what interested me and inspired me to pay more attention to the topic of communication with the professional and lay public about our work and its meaning.

What are the challenges that lie ahead of CEP in the future? 

CEP as a European platform of probation experts and practitioners faces many challenges. It is not easy to list them all and it is difficult to decide in which order they should be addressed. Every probation service faces this dilemma equally, regardless of the country in which it operates or how long it has been operating. We have all been through a difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all exposed to varying degrees to changes in the societies in which we live. And we are undoubtedly affected by the tragedies of wars, violence and extremism that affect us directly or indirectly. The period of calm we were used to before is now far away. It is a lot of changes at once that are dramatic. At the same time, it is necessary to continue our daily work. Perhaps this can be a key challenge – how to manage the current situation and not lose the need to usefully plan for the future. CEP is a place where we can support each other professionally and personally and in some cases even help each other concretely.

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