On 5-7 April, 2017 the 16th Cooperation Committee meeting of the Programme LV08 “Reform of the Latvian Correctional Services and Police Detention Centres” took place in Norway, Bergen.
Within this Cooperation Committee meeting discussions were held about the implementation and results of three pre-defined projects, wider effects of the projects to the system in general were analyzed and the last challenges were discussed.
This Cooperation Committee meeting is considered as special as it is the last meeting within this planning period.
State probation service (hereinafter – SPS) project LV08/1 "Increasing the Application of Alternatives to Imprisonment (Including Possible Pilot Project on Electronic Surveillance)" manager Imants Jurevičius informed the participants about the main developments within the framework of the project and the main improvements the project has introduced in the field of probation. The most significant achievement is successful establishment of electronic monitoring system, and now there are already 109 clients involved in the electronic monitoring. Work on new penal code in Latvia is carried out and it is planned that volunteers in the probation field will become integral part of penal system, which is a big step for Latvian society. Also, more researches than initially planned were carried out, namely 9 from 8. Initially the main task was to produce four researches, but during process it was decided to use data already collected by previous researches to research other related fields, providing more coherent and comprehensive results. The numerous training events that have been implemented are an enormous input for the cooperation between probation and prison officers and for increasing their effectivity of their work with clients respectively. The knowledge gained through these trainings is considerable, and it reflects to the confidence of the staff, making them more certain when working with probation clients. The knowledge of heads of divisions is increased by seminars and round-table discussions, and there is increased authority for officers now, enabling possibility to act faster and in more efficient way. Prisons and probation service are working towards cooperation.
A new Case management system has been developed as a valuable milestone of the project. The system is modern and can automatically generate information from different institutions, for instance, Criminal Records Agency. The system is built in a way that it can generate the risk level of the client itself. Also, social campaign has been introduced about electronic monitoring and mediation within the project. It provides information about what these functions are doing, by that increasing the confidence of community about the work of SPS.
Total administrative capacity of SPS has been increased by about 15% or even more thanks to project’s activities. The new technologies, case management system "PLUS" and the e-learning environment allows to spend less time on various issues.
Māris Luste, manager of the Project LV08/2 "Establishment of a new prison block in Olaine prison, including construction and training of staff" of the Latvian Prison Administration (hereinafter – LPA) introduced the participants of the Cooperation Committee meeting with the results of the project and the impact that can already be identified.
The work with client resocialization in the Addiction Centre of Olaine Prison (hereinafter – AC) has been started. In November 2016 first clients were allocated in the AC. In the work with the clients at the AC, several values are taken from Pathfinder and Atlantis programmes, namely change, openness, responsibility, trust, tolerance and mutual support. While working with the clients the AC staff fulfils several functions at the same time, such as in-depth risk assessment system, individual consultations and group work within our programmes, HIV/AIDS prophylaxis and sport and free time activities.
There have been seminars for social skills development trainers carried out within the project. This programme is established within the project and it is used for client selection for the resocialization programme. Seminars for coordinators who do the selection are held on a regular basis in order to improve the selection process as it is crucial part of this working method. Specific lectures for specialists of AC about mediation, group management and other issues have been held. What is more, as the persons coming to the AC needs to know Latvian language, there has been new indicator introduced within the project – Latvian language training in the places of imprisonment (target value – 96 persons). Groups for these courses are already assembled. This clearly reveals the innovative and progressive nature of these projects, as there is possibility to find solutions for different challenges.
The representative of the Project LV08/3 "Improving the standards of Latvian State Police detention centres, including activities aimed at improving infrastructure, reducing/abolishing the current practice of administrative detention, changing the practice of returning remand prisoners for further investigation, ensuring adequate training for staff working at police detention facilities", implemented by the State Police (hereinafter – SP), Jana Kezika informed about results in SP project, which was concluded on 31 August, 2016.
Jana Kezika noted that the staff members are still working on different administrative issues related to the project and it is necessary to submit the final project report. All of the renovated short-term detention centres and places of temporary keeping are put in operation. Regarding the sustainability of project results it is crucial to mention that the clients make damages in renovated premises, however, all equipment is insured and the Ministry of Interior of Latvia has developed an internal regulation for maintenance of the works done.
Other significant input from the SP project is that before the project there were no special training for officers of short-term detention centres, but during the project special training has been introduced. This training includes not only the special procedures, but also topics about fundamental human rights. This training programme is included in State Police College courses and is bringing a considerable impact to the education and knowledge of police officers in general.
As one of the aims of the programme is to strengthen the bilateral cooperation between Latvia and Norway in order to exchange experience and good practice, during the last Cooperation Committee meeting it was also decided to carry on with the bilateral activities within the SPS project, and several more activities were confirmed for the year of 2017. These bilateral activities plan consist of such activities as discussions on mediation issues between Norwegian National Mediation office and SPS, as well as training of mediators for violent cases, joint meeting of prison governors from Latvia and Norway in order to discuss relevant issues and exchange experience, etc.
The Cooperation Committee meeting was highly attended by both parties, Donor Programme Partner (hereinafter – DPP) and beneficiary state representatives, respectively. Both parties expressed gratitude for the successful and fruitful cooperation and revealed a great interest in future collaboration. Project managers expressed gratitude for the possibility to work with the project and introduce innovative and positive changes in Latvian Correctional services system, which now increases the capacity of probation, prison and police services and enables them to work in a more efficient way.