Work in the project LV08/1 has been very intensive and versatile on 2014 year. The intensive and exciting work on the implementation of project activities is planned on the 2015 year too. We offer a look back on the project progress last year and planned this year.
To strengthen professional capacity of State Probation Service officers and prison officers and to improve the re-socialization system, the staff were provided with the following training on 2014:
13 training seminars
- Six “Motivational Interviewing” seminars took place, with an aim to provide knowledge on motivational interviewing, build and develop the skills of applying motivational interviewing in practice – during the work with offenders. The seminars were conducted by Motivational Interviewing trainers who are working for the Service. In total, during these seminars, 47 Service officers and 47 prison officers obtained new knowledge and skills.
- Experts from the Norwegian Ila Prison visited Latvia three times and conducted “Trainings for Motivational Interviewing Trainers”. On September 26, 2014, the newly trained trainers got the certificates and already successfully conducted their first seminar.
- At the beginning of 2014, the seminar “Risk and Needs Assessment and Community Supervision” was organized, during which 18 Service officers were trained, who in 2013 had participated in the seminar “Introduction to the Work with Sex Offenders”. Having passed the exam successfully, 16 Service officers got the certificates allowing them to work with sex offenders' risk and needs assessment tool Static-99-R, to use the Stable-2007 and Acute-2007 in State Probation Service, as well as got specialization for the work with sex offenders.
- 38 Service officers and 20 prison officers participated in three seminars “Training Course on Brushing up the Knowledge on the Work with Sex Offenders”. These seminars differed from the courses conducted in 2013, in the fact that they were conducted by the employees of Supervision, Presentence Reports and Probation Programmes Divisions of the Service. Such changes were introduced taking into consideration the results of evaluation surveys of the seminars conducted in 2013.
5 meetings of Service`s regional advisory councils on the implementation of electronic surveillance
- In the period from September 19, 2014 to November 28, 2014, the course of six regional advisory councils’ meetings took place, devoted to the implementation of electronic surveillance in Latvia. During these meetings, Service’s cooperation partners in the field of corrections (representatives of courts, prosecutor’s offices, municipalities and the police) were informed about the current amendments in the legislation as well as the present corrections policy guidelines. Important issues for cooperation and the prospects of implementing and enforcing electronic surveillance were discussed during conversations between the Service and other state and municipality institutions.
16 peer reviews
- In 2014, within the framework of peer reviews the main emphasis was laid on the Service’s launched initiative – conducting peer reviews for mentors. Within a year, 39 supervision mentors were trained. The task of these mentors consists in being the best informed in their territorial structural unit (hereinafter – TSU) of the topical issues in the supervision function and give advice, provide consultations, educate and support both the new officers, who have begun online learning in the field of supervision, and their experienced colleagues.
The year 2015 promises to be rather intensive in terms of training events, in addition to the already commenced trainings it is planned to conduct a number of new seminars or those that were out of practice for a long time.
In 2015, it is planned to continue conducting the following seminars:
- 2 peer reviews for each probation function;
- 6 “Motivational Interviewing” seminars, in 4 of which it is planned to engage new officers, while the remaining 2 seminars will be devoted to brushing up the knowledge. It is planned to engage in them those officers, who had participated in Motivational Interviewing seminars before 2011;
- The experts of the “Trainings for Motivational Interviewing Trainers” from Norway will arrive in Latvia 2 times, in order to reinforce and complement the Motivational Interviewing trainers’ knowledge in applying the method.
- Within the framework of the project it is planned to organize 2 seminars “Introduction to the Work with Sex Offenders” in 2015, and the seminar “Risk and Needs Assessment and Community Supervision” – in 2016;
- It is planned to continue the “Training Course on Brushing up the Knowledge on the Work with Sex Offenders”, conducting 3 seminars.
and resume the following trainings:
- Conversation Skills Development Training;
- Training of trainers for Conversation Skills Development Training;
- Conversation Skills Development Training, conducted by the trained SPS trainers;
- Work with Persons with Mental Disorders;
- Change Management and the New Alternative. Heads of TSU and governors of prisons will participate;
- The New Legislation and Regulations on Supervision and Presentence Reports Procedures – SPS, Trainings on the new alternative;
- Trainings for Sex Offender Behaviour Correction Group Work Programme trainers.
- Training on Violence Recidivism Risk and Criminogenic Needs Assessment Tools and Specialization for the Work with Violent Offenders.
Work with Young Offenders
In 2015, a number of trainings are also planned with an aim to improve the Service officers` knowledge on the work with young offenders.
The following activities are planned:
- In order to prepare Service officers for the work with young offenders and provide them with special knowledge in the sphere of children`s rights protection, trainings specified in the Law on Children`s Rights Protection will be held for 60 Service officers and 40 prison officers, as well as knowledge-brushing-up trainings.
- Trainings for 60 SPS officers on foreign practice and experience of working with young offenders, provided by foreign experts.
- Trainings for the trainers of specialists in the field of young offender re-socialization.
- Work with volunteers: In 2015, it is planned to launch a pilot project that will help to promote the work on young offender re-socialization, engage volunteers from community in achieving the goals of the Service. To develop a theoretical basis for the pilot project as well as methods of practical work.
Within the framework of the project activities, for the purpose of re-socialization of young offenders (aged 14 to 25), the Service will engage around 60 volunteer associates, who during common activities with young offenders would help them to acquire useful skills and strengthen the values and interests that promote re-socialization. Until the end of April 2015, decisions will be made on issues related to the volunteers selection criteria and the ways of their engagement, the trainings of volunteers and their content, taking into consideration the experience of the previously implemented projects on the organization of volunteering work in Latvia, current Latvian legislation, and planned amendments in the legislative acts and internal regulations.
In order to acquaint the specialists of Latvian law enforcement institutions with Norwegian practice of working with young offenders, it is planned to organize a visit of Norwegian experts – representatives of National Mediation Service – to Latvia, when during 5 regional discussions Latvian representatives will get an insight into the practice approved in Norway for the work with underaged offenders, as well as into the interinstitutional cooperation directed towards the correction of behaviour of the underaged.
- A visit to a European country is planned for 7 Service officers engaged in the development of new methods of work with young offenders, in order to get them acquainted with experience of criminal law experts and other field experts working with convicted youth.
- Within the framework of the Service’s work, a new correction instrument meant for the work with young offenders – a probation programme – will be developed. Trainings for the trainers of probation programmes meant for young offenders will be held (16 trainers of programmes).
Conferences and Seminars
Another way of building professional capacity for the officers is participation in international conferences and exchange-of-experience visits, which offers an opportunity of being up to date with the latest information on the international scale and improves the functioning of State Probation Service in accordance with modern tendencies in the field of criminal justice. In 2014, representatives of the Service attended the following conferences and seminars:
- 11-13 May, 2014 – business trip to Oslo (Norway) in order to get acquainted with Norwegian experience in preparation of tender documentation related to electronic surveillance technologies for offenders in community, attended by 3 officers;
- 14-16 May, 2014 – business trip to Warsaw (Poland) to attend the Conference “Developing Victim Support Across Europe”, attended by 1 officer;
- 11-14 June, 2014 – business trip to Belfast (Great Britain) to attend the 8th Conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice “Beyond Crime: Pathways to Desistance, Social Justice and Peacebuilding”, attended by 3 officers;
- 4-6 June, 2014 – business trip to Chisinau (Moldova) to attend the International Conference “Community Sanctions in Central and Eastern European Countries” organized by the Confederation of European Probation, the European Council and the Probation Service of Moldova, attended by 3 officers;
- 4-5 September, 2014 – business trip to Amsterdam (the Netherlands) to participate in the STREAM (Strategic Targeting of Recidivism through Evaluation And Monitoring) project seminar on the efficiency of probation programmes, attended by 1 officer;
- 2-6 September, 2014 – business trip to Porto (Portugal) to the Annual Scientific Conference of the International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders (IATSO) “Criminal Policies in Sexual Violence: From Research to Legislation and Treatment” and for the strengthening of the Project strategic management, attended by 1 officer;
- 9-13 September, 2014 – business trip to Prague (Czech Republic) to the Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology “Criminology of Europe: Inspiration and Diversity”, attended by 2 officers;
- 9-13 September, 2014 – business trip to York (Great Britain) to the Annual Scientific Conference of the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers (NOTA), attended by 3 officers;
- 11-21 September, 2014 – business trip to Cleveland (Ohio, USA) to the Annual Scientific Conference of the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA) “Integrating Innovative Practices: From the Achievements of the Past to What Matters Going Forward: Innovation, Integration and Implementation of Research and Practice”, attended by 1 officer;
- 21-23 September, 2014 – business trip to Frankfurt (Germany) for the strengthening of the Project strategic management, attended by 1 officer;
- 22-24 October, 2014 – business trip to Barcelona (Spain) to a seminar on the implementation of the “CIRCLES4EU” project co-funded by the financial instrument of the European Commission DAPHNE III, attended by 2 officers;
- 22-24 October, 2014 – business trip to Malta to the Final Conference of the STREAM (Strategic Targeting of Recidivism through Evaluation And Monitoring) project, attended by 2 officers;
- 19-21 November, 2014 – business trip to Barcelona (Spain) to the Final Conference of the “CIRCLES4EU” project co-funded by the financial instrument of the European Commission DAPHNE III, attended by 3 officers;
- 5-7 November, 2014 – business trip to the Netherlands to the Final Conference of the SOMEC (Serious Offending by Mobile European Criminals) project co-funded by the European Commission, attended by 3 officers;
- 12-15 November, 2014 – business trip to Leuven (Belgium) to the Conference “Researching the Potential of Restorative Justice for Sexual Violence” of the project “Developing Integrated Responses to Sexual Violence: An Interdisciplinary Research Project on the Potential of Restorative Justice” co-funded by the financial instrument of the European Commission DAPHNE, attended by 2 officers;
- 11-14 December, 2014 – business trip to Frankfurt (Germany) to participate in the Conference on Electronic Monitoring, organized by the Confederation of European Probation, attended by 7 officers.
Study on the Effectiveness of Risk and Needs Assessment (RNA) Tool
Implemented in 2014:
Preparation of data
All the necessary information on risk and needs assessments was received from PLUS, starting from the year 2011. These data have been used to conduct a selective psychometric study. Psychometric analysis has been made:
- Information on the consistency of the tool criteria assessments and on the descriptive statistics has been summarized;
- Research-oriented factor analysis of the tool criteria has been made;
- Confirmatory factor analysis of the tool criteria has been made (3 risk factors: static, dynamic and violence risk factor);
- Prognosis of the officers’ assessments has been made, based on 3 risk factors;
- Latent class analysis has been made.
Qualitative analysis has been made: based on the psychometric analysis and available scientific literature on the respective topic, the drawbacks in the RNA tool were identified.
Based on the available scientific literature on the respective topic and the Service`s needs, problems in the field of risk assessment were identified – it is necessary to introduce additional criteria that would help to make a more complete assessment of the violence risk factor.
Planned for 2015:
Proposal development – to continue working on the improvement of the risk and needs assessment in relation to both the violence risk assessment and the upgrade of the existing tool, as well as on the improvement of the electronic performance of the risk and needs assessment. Study on the possibility of making prognoses in relation to the risk and needs assessment – to receive data from the Punishment Register data base on the repetitive offenses committed by the SPS clients, and make an in-depth analysis of the quality, advantages and disadvantages of the risk and needs assessment tool used by SPS. To start working on the preparation of the final report.
Study on the Effectiveness of Probation Programmes (PP)
In 2014, the following activities were carried out:
- Study and analysis of the scientific literature in order to summarize foreign experience in the field of probation programmes and risk assessment;
- Analysis of the SPS internal regulations, structural unit and division reports on the implemented throughout the previous years;
- Inquiry of SPS probation programme trainers and analysis of the results;
- Assessment of three programmes under study in accordance with the criteria of effective intervention;
- Preparation of the pre-study report;
- Presentation of the results achieved.
In 2015, the following activities are planned:
- Inquiry of client case managers (with an aim to examine their opinion about probation programmes and previous experience);
- Development of a programme trainer competence model, its integration into the selection procedure;
- Improvement of monitoring criteria in cooperation with the Probation Programmes Division specialists;
- Preparation of publications;
- Study on the issue – whether participation in probation programmes reduces the rates of recidivism.
As well as:
Thanks to the opportunities offered by the Project, in 2014 we began and continue to give support to poor and low-income probation clients, offering the reimbursement of travel expenses in order for them to get to the Service and meet with case managers or attend probation programmes. An opportunity of reimbursement of travel expenses is also offered to those Service officers who visit the territory of any other Service’s structural unit in order to do their direct duties of probation programme training, or meet with probation clients.
Consultations of mental health professionals are offered to probation clients with mental disorders.
Service officers have an opportunity to attend individual support consultations of psychotherapy specialists, which represent essential help in reducing officers` burnout syndrome and strengthening their emotional resilience.
A number of purchases have been made and the procurement procedure for the lease of electronic surveillance technologies has been launched.