Invitation to the conference in Prague

On behalf of the Czech Probation and Mediation Service and Confederation of European Probation we kindly invite you and your colleagues to the upcoming international conference “The Restoration of Normality: Mirroring the Past in the Future” on the past and future of probation, with a focus on restorative justice and interagency cooperation. The event will be held in Prague, the Czech Republic, from 11th to 13th October 2021 and will also be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Probation and Mediation Service. Conference location is the Hotel Pyramida in Prague (https://www.hotelpyramida.cz/en/).

Programme

The conference will focus on key probation topics with a focus on restorative justice practices, its usage within alternatives to detention and interagency cooperation such as:

  • Development of Restorative Practice in Probation
  • Radicalisation and restoration in the community
  • Domestic violence
  • Social support and integration
  • Education and Training

Furthermore, we are glad to announce that there will be two special Round Tables: one inspired by the series of website articles “A day in a life of probation officer”, focusing on probation officers, and the other one presented by senior probation officers who are going to share their experience and their opinion on the future of probation.  

It is a timely, stimulating and very relevant programme with expert contributors, lively exchanges and discussion and opportunities to meet and share experiences. It also is the very first opportunity to meet in person again after more than a year of online events only, caused by the COVID-19 restrictions.  

For more details of the event please see the attached conference programme.

The conference will commence on Monday evening, 11th October 2021, at 19:00, with a reception at the Liechtenstein Palace, representative building of the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic. The rest of the programme will take place at the Pyramida Hotel, except for the official dinner on 12th October that is held at the Czech Museum of Music.

Registration

To register for the conference, please visit the CEP website. Sign up to the online registration system and then follow the instructions for participant registration.

You will receive confirmation of your registration by email. The registration fee is 150 euro for CEP members and 450 euro for non-members. We understand that you might be hesitant to register in these uncertain times, but we very much invite you to still do so as your conference fee will be reimbursed in case of cancellation of the event.

Hotel accommodation

Hotel accommodation is not included in the conference fee but we have made a block booking at the Pyramida Hotel, where the conference takes place. If you would like to make use of the special rate, please make a reservation via the link on the CEP website.

Please confirm your attendance by registering before 1st October 2021 at the latest.

26th Council of Europe Conference of Directors of Prison and Probation Services

The 26th Council of Europe Conference of Directors of Prison and Probation Services “Gaining an Edge over the Pandemic” was held at the VIDAMAR Resort Hotel, in Funchal on the island of Madeira, Portugal on 20-21 September 2021 (see the brochure). It was co-organised with the Portuguese prison and probation service.

On its agenda was as a priority topic the impact COVID-19 has had on the mental health of offenders and staff as well as on the enhanced use of new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI). It has taken stock of the situation and has discussed the lessons learned and the way forward. The attention of the participants was also be drawn to the Council of Europe current work on the treatment of offenders with mental health disabilities and disorders as well as on the ethical and organisational aspects of the use of AI by prison and probation services. At the Conference was also be promoted the latest Council of Europe standard-setting text regarding the assessment, management and reintegration of persons accused or convicted of a sexual offence.

The Conference was opened only to invited participants: Directors of the Prison and Probation Services of the Council of Europe member and observer States as well as representatives of the European Union, the United Nations, the European Organisation of Prison and Correctional Services (EuroPris), the  International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA) and the Confederation of European Probation (CEP) .

More information on the conference: https://www.coe.int/en/web/prison/funchal-2021

44 Probation Officers from the Czech Republic completed the HELP course on Radicalisation Prevention

On 16 June 2021, the HELP course on Radicalisation Prevention was launched for a group of 45 probation officers in the Czech Republic. The online launch event, organised within the framework of the EU-CoE HELP Radicalisation prevention, Judicial response to terrorism and International cooperation in criminal matters (RP-TERR-ICCM), was hosted by the Czech Probation and Mediation Service.

The course was sucessfully completed by 44 Probation Officers. The official end of the course took place on 22 September 2021.

Although this national course version targets a selected group, the HELP online course on Radicalisation Prevention is available in 7 languages on the HELP e-learning platform, together with other HELP courses related to the project, namely: International Cooperation in Criminal Matters, Gathering and Use of Evidence in Counter-terrorism cases and Managing Foreign National Prisoners.

More information on the course can be found here.

Day in a life of probation officer – Martina Behalkova

Is the day of a probation officer in Germany similar to the one of someone working in Romania? In the series ‘A day in the life of a probation officer’, we publish articles written by probation officers from different countries in Europe to see if their days look alike or are very different from each other. This article is written by Martina Behalkova, a probation officer from the Czech Republic.

I have been working as a probation officer for five years. My whole professional career I have been specializing in childhood abuse and neglect. Therefore, it was a clear and easy decision for me to join Probation and Mediation Service to focus on juvenile service users. I like this young generation, their opinion and point of view on present-day problems. They look so strong and confident but inside they are often confused and fragile.

The Czech Probation and Mediation Services pay a big attention to this group of young offenders and victims. We have specialized probation officers working with juveniles. They receive special training, for example how to manage a family conference. Juveniles have a lot of differences in comparison with adult offenders. I think the main difference is how they perceive time. In a juvenile‘s life, changes happen quicker than in the lives of adult offenders.

Because of that we usually stay in touch with young service users more often than adult offenders. We speak with them in our offices, visit them in their houses, schools and try to find appropriate sources of help. It is necessary for me to cooperate with all persons who are in touch with the juvenile such as their teachers, their coaches, or their social workers. Last but not least with their family members. All of them give me a part of information about the juvenile and therefore I can compose a mosaic about his/her life. This helps me ask the right questions at the right time and point out their needs.

A collaboration with persons who are in touch with the child is important on all levels. It is a Probation and Mediation Service which supports the System of Early Intervention. This is a process of work and communication in the area of the social and legal protection of juveniles. The members of the System of Early Intervention have regular face-to-face meetings about local problems, delinquent children and juveniles. The representatives of these systems are judges, public prosecutors, policemen, social workers and of course probation officers.

In March 2020, the lives of our juvenile service users totally changed. In the Czech Republic, all schools immediately closed. Nobody expected it. The schools stayed closed with short reopenings nearly for one whole year. At first, the juveniles were extremely happy. They could not believe in their happiness, they had days off, everywhere was chaos, nobody knew what to do. Their teachers tried to find appropriate communication channels to continue juveniles‘ school duties.

The fact is, although teachers tried to do their bestthese juveniles have been staying with their families, nearly for one year without social contact, a face to face with their teachers, their schoolmates, and their friends. Day after another their sports clubs, leisure – hobby centers, swimming pools, playgrounds… were all getting closed. The juveniles stayed home and their lives transformed into digital space for days, weeks, and months… They had been spending hours in front of various digital devices. Their greatest concern was…“Do you have a fast, strong Wi-Fi connection?“…If not, you don´t exist! In this situation, we missed information that usually a juvenile´s teachers and coaches could observe. We had to rely on information from the family. It was a new experience for me, verifying this information was difficult, but not impossible.

This time was also hard for these juveniles’ parents. Some of them lost their jobs, didn´t have enough money, didn´t have enough digital devices for all children in the family, or parents were overloaded and had to day after day cook for their children, and help them with school duties. Inside families, we could recognize tensions, arguments, and domestic violence as well. The juveniles didn´t have any place to escape, they were inside their family house for a long long time. During this hard time, probation officers paid more attention to domestic violence.

Media in the Czech Republic reported a higher alcohol consumption but my personal experience with a group of juvenile offenders has been a little different. Many juveniles told me that they left experimenting with drugs because of the Covid situation. Everything was closed like pubs, music clubs and these places protected them from high-risk moments in their lives when they usually experimented with alcohol or drugs. They described to me that it was easy for them because of the lack of opportunities that usually were given to them by their peers. I hope that they hold on to their decision for the future, for the ‘non- Covid times‘. I am not under any illusions regarding it but I cross my fingers.

So.. the work of probation officers varies. No day is the same and the ‘Covid time‘ teaches us new, unexpected things. We were in touch with the juveniles more often than usual, owing to telephone calls for example. Young offenders showed me that they are stronger than I expected them to be, to survive this scary period. However, I make sure that the best is the element of personal face-to-face guidance and help.

This article has been originally published on www.cep-probation.org