On 27th May 2010 the CEP (European Organisation for Probation) celebrated its 10th General Assembly (GA) in Malaga.
At the 9th GA in Tallinn in September 2007, the Home Office Ministry of the Spanish Government and the Catalonian Justice Department offered to host the next General Assembly. During the preparations for the GA the Portuguese Justice Ministry joined the project.
I want to draw your attention to a number of points. Firstly the three different jurisdictions collaborated with CEP to arrange the 10th General Assembly. Positive developments emerged from this collaboration including the opportunity for this Southern part of Europe to showcase the developments in the field of probation. It also highlighted the fact that CEP increasingly is taking on the lead role in unifying all those who want to support the work in this part of the justice sector.
Secondly this is the first time that the General Assembly of the CEP was celebrated in the context of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union by one of its members. Significantly for CEP, the Kingdom of Spain chaired the Presidency during the first six months of 2010 and the Spanish Government included CEP’s GA in the official programme of the presidency. This underlines the importance of the event for the Spanish Government and the key role that CEP plays in the network of countries within the Council of the European Union.
From 2007 to 2010 many things have changed across the world. After an extensive period of economic growth many countries now face a financial crisis which started in 2008 and has impacted on many governments and their citizens around the world. Europe is not an exception. The economic context has had practical implications in the Justice field in general, and in the Probation sector in particular. Cuts in budgets, reductions in staff, and revisions to approved programmes are the practical consequences that probation leaders have to face at the moment in Europe. CEP is aware of and sensitive to this reality and it underpinned the deliberations during the GA.
Bearing in mind CEP outlined a full package of proposals underpinned by the economic reality. Let me identify the most important elements of this comprehensive approach:
a) No increase in fees for 2011
b) The development of an annual working plan informed by the mandate from the GA, that allows the Board, to develop actions that are considered as a priority for the majority of the members.
c) The application for additional income from the European Union in the context of the grants offered by this body.
d) The expansion of membership to those countries who belong to the Council of Europe and are not yet represented at CEP level.
e) The expansion of membership from Universities and Research Centres to add value to the strong message promoted by CEP that Probation is a viable option in the management of offenders.
Some of the suggestions made may also help CEP to save resources in day to day activities, such as the preparation of workshops and seminars, and travel costs. CEP members must examine the proposals on the basis of:a) Whether the work done during the last three years was useful for membersb) The understanding that the next three years are crucial for the consolidation of the central status of CEP in the Probation sector”.
In the summary of the presentations on our website you can find former President Patrick Magidou’s speech. He showed clearly that point a) (work done) covered the main areas mandated by members at the Tallinn GA.:
a) Form closer links with European Institutions: Council of Europe (CEP played a very active role in the development of the European Rules) and the Commission of the European Union (CEP has held a very active position in the development of the Framework Decision – ).
b) Be an effective partner in European projects including Starr, Rirp, Domice, Circles.
c) Be active in organizing recurring conferences of interest for members: General Directors meeting in November 2008 at Strasbourg, Electronic Monitoring in Egmond aan Zee in May 2010.
d) Be active organizing conferences, jointly with our members, on relevant topics for the sector currently: Resettlement, capacity building, staff training programmes, relationships among prison and probation systems, etc.
e) Expand the knowledge of Probation around Europe: update of the book Probation in Europe, agreement with Birmingham University to produce the journal Euro Vista, probation and community justice.
f) Work together with other institutions in Europe such as the European Society of Criminology or the Forum for Restorative Justice.
g) Act as an umbrella organisation for those who work on specific topics that affect probation in Europe including the Expert Group on Foreign Nationals.
h) Identify a group of European probation professionals who can participate in twin projects as experts using a panel system for provision of a CEP Register of Experts.
i) Attend conferences arranged by members to support their efforts nationally in promoting Probation.
j) Renew our communication tools to reach and inform our members: new website with a private section, on line newsletter.
k) Change the corporate image of CEP: new brand, flags at CEP events.
l) Produce a document outlining the key values of Probation.
m) Evaluate CEP conferences and members requests for the future.
The development of point B is in our hands. Despite the economic crisis, and due to the measures that I outlined previously, CEP hopes to achieve at least four main goals over the next 3 years:
a) Become independent financially in order to employ all CEP staff, including the Secretary General. While CEP is delighted to acknowledge Reclassering Nederland for the help and support offered throughout the years we recognise that from the 1st of July 2011 we are committed to achieving financial independence.
b) Reinforce the use of the Annual Plan as the key element for managing the organization, and, also, of communication of our progress with our members.
c) Enhance and improve the service we deliver on a range of levels including the collaboration with the European Institutions, the participation in European projects, the relevance and quality of the conferences, the improvement of our communication, the usefulness of our register of experts and the contribution of the whole Board in supporting our members.
d) Endeavour to achieve a representative balance across Europe reflecting the diversity across Europe. Utilising the Council of Europe as a basis for membership needs to be of equal relevance for developing and developed Probation Services. Only by sharing the main principles and purposes will such a goal be achieved.
Thank you to the city of Malaga for offering us a marvellous backdrop to celebrate our productive GA.
Thank you also to the event organisers who through much hard work and patience created a supportive and pleasant atmosphere where participants could learn and get to know each other better; one of the founding values of CEP.
Thanks indeed to the President, the two vice presidents and the rest of the Board members who finished their term in Malaga. CEP congratulates all for their excellent work over the past three or six years. Welcome to the new Board members, and thanks to those remaining from the previous Board
I hope we can meet again in either Germany or Ireland in 2013 proud to share with our members, current and new, the successes of a job well done.
European Conference for Probation
Marc Cerón i Riera
Barcelona, 26th of July 2010