Introduction of electronic monitoring
In the first six months of 2015, active work on introduction of the electronic monitoring in Latvia including creation of Electronic Monitoring Centre within the project No. LV08/1 "Increasing Application of Alternatives to Imprisonment (Including Possible Pilot Project on Electronic Surveilance)" (hereinafter the Project) launched by the State Probation Service (hereinafter the Service) on June 3, 2013, was continued:
- Support to elaboration of draft laws of electronic monitoring and to progress thereof has been provided;
- Work on cooperation with "Tiesu namu aģentūra" to maintain IT infrastructure of electronic monitoring has been continued;
- A visit of Norwegian experts in Latvia to provide consultations on issues in relation to introduction of electronic monitoring has been organised;
- Six informative seminars for officers of the Latvian Prison Administration on introduction of electronic monitoring have been organised;
- On 09.06.2015, an informative seminar on electronic monitoring for specialists of criminal law of Latvia involving 40 persons has been organised;
- Equipment for ensuring operation of the Electronic Monitoring Centre have been purchased and installed;
- Candidate selection for vacant positions of Project rapporteur in the field of electronic monitoring has been launched;
- Procurement of electronic monitoring technology lease "Creation of System to Monitor Probation Customers in Society with Technical Means" and procurement of server supply have been implemented;
- On 06.07.2015, procurement agreement with the winner of the procurement of electronic monitoring technology lease, "SuperCom Ltd.", has been concluded, on 09.07.2015, procurement agreement with the winner of the procurement of server supply, SIA "IPRO", has been concluded.
Seminar of electronic monitoring
On June 9, 2015, in Riga, there was an informative seminar for cooperation partners of the Service on introduction of electronic monitoring organised by the Service in collaboration with the Confederation of European Probation, Ministry of Justice and Public Security of Norway, and Oslo Probation Service.
The objective of the seminar — to provide an overview to specialists of criminal law of Latvia about opportunities to apply electronic monitoring in the criminal justice learning from experience of other countries, mainly Belgium, the Netherlands, and Norway.
Among others, also Recommendation CM/Rec(2014)4 of the Council of Europe on electronic monitoring was examined.
Representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of the Interior of Latvia, Ombudsman's Office, Latvian Prison Administration, State Police, courts, and prosecutor offices, 40 persons in total, participated in the seminar.
The seminar was lead and knowledge was shared by field experts: Michiel van der Veen (the Netherlands), Marianne Kylstad Øster, Njål Grimstad, and Bernt Reidar Espedal (Norway).
Press conference about electronic monitoring
On July 6, 2015, in Riga, there was a press conference organised by the Service to inform abut introduction of the electronic monitoring system of the convicted in Latvia. During the press conference, mass media were informed about the run of introduction of the electronic monitoring system, as well as electronic monitoring devices were presented.
Mihails Papsujevičs, the director of the Service, Imants Jurevičius, the project manager, and representatives of the winner of the procurement of electronic monitoring device supply, "SuperCom Ltd.", were among participants of the press conference.
Within the Project, in the first six months of 2015, 16 training seminars, 6 informative seminars for officers of the Latvian Prison Administration on introduction of electronic monitoring, and 9 colleague consultations have been organised and provided.
In the first half of 2015, colleague consultations gathered a total of 161 officer of the Service.
Six seminars "Motivational interviewing" have taken place with an aim to provide knowledge on motivational interviewing, as well as to refresh such knowledge to those officers who have mastered this technique in 2010. The seminar was conducted by Motivational interviewing coaches who work for the Service. In total new knowledge and skills in these seminars were gained by 48 officers of the Service and 49 officers of the Latvian Prison Administration.
In the first half of 2015, experts from Ila prison (Norway) visited Latvia in order to train the coaches of Motivational interviewing.
In the first six months of the year, there were 4 seminars "Training negotiation skills" where 42 officers of the Service and 22 officers of the Latvian Prison Administration were trained. These seminars were conducted by experts from the Great Britain, Elizabeth Hayes and Lydia Guthrie.
Three seminars "Training to refresh knowledge in work with sex offenders" gathered 36 officers of the Service and 20 officers of the Latvian Prison Administration.
There were 2 seminars "Change management" where 17 officers of the Service and 18 officers of the Latvian Prison Administration participated.
Conferences and meetings
One more way to increase professional competence of the officers is participation at international conferences and exchange of experience visits that give an opportunity to share the best experience of countries in various fields of operation of probation. In the first half of 2015, the following international conferences and meetings have been visited:
- From May 21 to 23, 2015, there was a business trip to Warsaw (Poland) — a general meeting of the European Forum for Restorative Justice and conference "Access to mediation for victims of domestic violence" attended by 2 members;
- From May 27 to 30, 2015, there was a business trip to Barcelona (Spain) — a digital technology conference organised by the Confederation of European Probation "Technology in Corrections: Challenges for the Future" attended by 1 officer;
- From June 14 to 15, 2015, there was a business trip to Rotterdam (the Netherlands) — a meeting of the regular working group for preparation of the 10th electronic monitoring conference and strengthening strategic management capacity organised by the Confederation of European Probation attended by 1 officer.
Work with youth
The following activities have been implemented in the first half of 2015 and planned in the second half of 2015.
- To prepare the officers of the Service for work with youth that are the Service's customers and provide special knowledge in the field of protecting the rights of children, a 5-day long training on protection of the rights of children defined in the Protection of the Rights of the Child Law was provided to 30 officers of the Service who work with the probation customers. It is planned that the 5-day training this year will still be ensured to 30 officers of the Service and 40 officers of the Latvian Prison Administration. Knowledge refreshment training will be ensured to the above officers.
- Work with volunteers: a pilot project to promote re-socialisation work with youth — development of a pilot project of volunteer associates — was launched in June 2015. Theoretical justification and practical work methods, volunteer selection criteria and attraction types, volunteer training and content thereof (a guide) of the pilot project have been elaborated considering experience of the projects implemented by now in Latvia in the field of organisation of volunteer work and legislation and the planned amendments of laws and regulations that are effective in Latvia. Twelve officers of the Service have been trained to work as coordinators to volunteer associates. Volunteer attraction has been launched — application for work of a volunteer associate has been announced and is effective by September 2015. The first group of the selected volunteer associates will be trained already in August 2015, while the rest groups will be trained by October 2015.
- Development of behaviour correction programme for youth has been started — a working group of the Service has been created in order to perform a feasibility study with an aim to identify needs of the Service's customers aged 14–25, resources to re-socialise the customers of this target group, as well as foreign practice in social correction work with delinquent youth. The working group has performed the feasibility study, and recommendations to improve the Service's work have been summarised, as well as a plan to create the working group and programme by January 2016 has been elaborated.
- To acquaint specialists of Latvian law enforcement institutions with Norwegian practice in work with youth, it is planned to organise a visit of Norwegian specialists, representatives of the Mediation Service, in Latvia where Latvian representatives at 5 regional discussions will get an insight into the practice approved in Norway for the work with underaged offenders, as well as into the interinstitutional cooperation mechanisms directed towards the correction of behaviour of the underaged.
Study on the Effectiveness of Risk and Needs Assessment (RNA) Tool
By now, within the study on the Effectiveness of Risk and Needs Assessment (RNA) Tools:
- data from the PLUS data base have been retrieved; data of the risk and needs assessment have been processed;
- psychometric indicators of the risk and needs assessment have been evaluated concluding that the internal validity of the tool is good;
- according to the retrieved data of the risk and needs assessment, information on customer convictions from the Punishment Register has been requested and obtained;
- data of the customer convictions have been processed.
Study of effectiveness of probation programmes (PP)
In the first half of 2015, within a study of effectiveness of probation programmes:
- customer case managers have participated in a questionnaire (the objective: to study their opinion on probation programmes and former experience), namely data collection and statistical analysis have been carried out;
- a competence model of programme directors has taken place (analysis of literature and various competence models, discussion at working groups, creation of a competence model of the PP director);
- work on elaboration of a monitoring form and analyses of video records has been continued;
- two summaries for scientific conference "Current Challenges for Psychology and Law" (August 4–7, 2015, Nuremberg, Germany) organised by The European Association of Psychology and Law have been executed and submitted;
- a study on criminogenic attitude of customers before and after intervention (scientific literature is being analysed, a questionnaire is being elaborated, study data have been collected as of April 2015) takes place.
As well as:
Owing the opportunities offered by the Project, in 2015, support is continued to be provided to poor and low-income probation customers, offering the reimbursement of travel expenses in order for them to get to the Service and meet with a case manager or attend a probation programme.
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 customers.
Consultations of mental health professionals are offered to probation customers with mental disorders.
Service officers have an opportunity to attend individual support consultations of psychotherapy specialists, which represents essential help in reducing officers’ burnout syndrome and strengthening their emotional resilience.