The introduction of probation as an alternative to detention represents one of the achievements of the reform in criminal justice in our country. The creation of probation services happened with the support of a number of European countries. A number of trainings were held, and methodological help was provided from the very beginning. Introduced were an individual assessment of the criminal offenders, and individual planning of the execution of the sentence, as well as programs for social impact and a pre-court report. At the same time, a number of problems and difficulties arise in the practice, which in the context of the international justice standards and the reformation pledges of the state require a timely response. The Social Activities and Practices Institute embrace the position that it is possible to address these issues as part of a multi-directional process, including:
- Change in the requirements of the system for its human resources – in regards to the profile of competencies, the requirements for taking up the positions, and the staff selection procedures;
- Provision of opportunities for career development on the spot, training and preparation adapted to the needs related to the application of the probation measure;
- Re-assessment of the preparation of the professionals looking through the prism of contemporary social work;
- Development of capacity for cooperation with the organizations and institutions on a local level;
- Change of the attitude towards the convicted people, and focusing on their human rights during the everyday professional work.
The project „Increasing the Competence of Probation Officers“ addresses this type of problems, and aims to develop the competence of the staff in the probation services and the justice system, so that there would be fair justice provision, effective monitoring, and psycho-social work with criminal offenders, prevention of recidivism, and successful social inclusion of the convicted.
The project is implemented in partnership with Foundation S.E.G.A, and in close collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, Main Directorate “Punishment Implementation”, and the regional offices “Punishment Implementation”. Over 200 employees from the system that come from different professional competences and hierarchy will be included in some form in the collaboration – training, seminars, public events and discussions.
The project will ensure:
- development and approbation of a contemporary professional profile of probation officers, based on the approach of competence;
- support for the adaptation and performance of newly-hired officers through introductory training based on their profile of competence, practical activities and internships;
- increasing the competence of current probation officers through training for working with high-risk groups - convicted minors and convicted people from the Roma communities; and through training for work in inter-institutional collaborations, multi-disciplinary team, and in network;
- professionalization of the work of educators, trainers and mentors from Main Directorate “Punishment Implementation”, and the regional offices “Punishment Implementation” through specific preparation for the application of active methods of training for adults, and through internships;
- abundant and accessible number of instruments and resources that the probation officers could apply in their professional daily work – training (education plans, programs, methodological guides, materials), and interactive (training movie for interviewing convicted people, and for preparing assessments);
- a space for discussions between the various types of professionals – judges, prosecutors on a regional level, representatives of the regional offices “Punishment Implementation”, and providers of social services, which will increase their understanding and awareness about the meaning of the punishment measure “probation”, and about the collaborative work in the name of a fair justice process.
- A Support Council for the project with the participation of representatives from MJ, MES, NGO – National Justice Institute; additionally, the MLSP takes the initiative to provide information to the professional community and the public about the activities of the project.
The project “Increasing the Competence of Probation Officers” is implemented within the Program BG 15 “Corrective services, including without imposing measures for detention”, Small Grant Scheme funded by the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014.