As the EU Framework Decision was adopted in 2008, it seemed timely to organise a conference for all experts involved, in order to share information about the implementation. CEP in conjunction with the Probation Service in Ireland hosted the expert meeting on the EU Framework Decision on 8th and 9th October 2009. The conference was attended by policy makers from relevant Ministries and delegates from key Probation organisations, the smaller Member States were especially well represented.
At the conference the Framework Decision was identified as “a new and exciting development, which offers a ‘third option’ for the courts in addition to prison sentences or fines and gives Probation agencies an opportunity to showcase what supervision in the community can achieve.” The Probation Service in Ireland was very happy to take the lead role in hosting and organising this international conference. As the Framework Decision is important to all the participants and CEP members, there was great interest in the presentations and positive contributions by the participants, according to Suzanne Vella, CEP Board Member and Deputy Director of the Probation Service. “The discussion groups were energetic and informative. They played an important part in setting the agenda for the next steps in the implementing of the Framework Decision as well as equipping and motivating the participants to ensure actions.”
To maximise the discussions among the participants, the discussion groups consisted on the one hand of policy issues groups and on the other hand of operational issues groups. Suzanne Vella noted: “In the policy groups it emerged that different states were at different stages in the implementation process and had different ideas about what the Competent Authority would look like, but none had made final decisions.” The Competent Authorities (CA) will be issuing and receiving orders from courts in other States. On receiving an order, the CA has 60 days to decide whether to accept it. “Participants concluded that there needs to be further clarification about the functions and skills (administrative, legal, probation practice) involved. Furthermore the Competent Authorities need to know how to communicate with each other.” There was a wide spectrum of knowledge and skills evident in the operational groups. They noted also that some states are well-advanced, while others have yet to begin. There was also concern about the steps involved in how it would be implemented as there was an awareness that time is short. December 2011 is the date by which Member States must have taken the necessary measures for the implementation. One of the major challenges, according to Suzanne Vella, is to give this task an appropriate priority.
A Next Steps document was produced at the conference which outlined the steps necessary for successful implementation. This document provided a checklist which included the following:
- General Steps: Undertaking a mapping exercise which would also serve to chart key processes.
- Competent Authority: Identify functions, key players, responsible persons and set timelines and targets.
- Legislation: Examine existing legislation to establish how it fits with the Framework Decision and whether legislative amendments required. Undertake this from the viewpoint of both issuing and executing state, considering 11 measures and breach/revocation.
- Progressing Conference Objectives: Compile a template for each Member State to outline basic information on community sanctions available and which could be incorporated into a manual.
- Additional Steps: Develop contacts with likely partner states.
This gave participants a clear checklist for progressing work on the Framework Decision. “There was an enthusiasm expressed by delegates about the task facing them on returning home”, Suzanne Vella recalled.
Recapitulating Suzanne Vella says: “The conference highlighted the need for urgent action in each jurisdiction to incorporate the Framework Decision in domestic legislation, to identify functions, key players, responsible persons and timelines and targets for implementation, the importance keeping of the structures as simple as possible and making the implementation of the Framework Decision a priority action for 2009-2011. The real benefit of this conference is that it provided an opportunity for policy and practice to come together to see how it will work.” In addition the conference also provided an opportunity for networking. The official reception at the start, high standard of service through out the conference, the conference dinner, tour and entertainment at the Jameson Distillery Visitor Centre were enjoyed by all. “As result of their visit every participant at this conference is now a trained and certified Irish Whiskey drinker”, concludes Suzanne Vella.
Conference based documents
Word of Welcome (by Leo Tigges)
Operational issues implementing the FD in the Netherlands (by Hayke Everwijn)
Policy Issues: Choices to be Made (by Ursula Fernée)
Review of Findings – Policy (by Ita Burke)
Review of Findings – Practice (by Gerry McNally)
Role and Objectives of the EU in relation to the FD (by David O’Donovan)
Texts of relevant EU Framework Decisions:
Council Framework Decision 2008/947/JHA on the mutual recognition of probation measures
Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA on the mutual recognition of
Council Framework Decision 2009/829/JHA on the mutual recognition of supervision measures