Due to financial support of Norway Grants Project Nr Lv08/1 State probation service can continue the work on previously started development - Improvement of the resettlement system and Improvement of the capacity of probation and prison officers.
Project of the State Probation Service of Latvia Nr.LV08/1 “Increasing the Application of Alternatives to Imprisonment (Including Possible Pilot Project on Electronic Surveillance)” of the Norway Grants Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 programme No.LV08 “Reform of the Latvian Correctional Services and Police Detention Centres”(further – Project) was launched on 3rd of June 2013. Till the end of 2013 nine seminars and sixteen peer reviews were carried out, these activities were attended by 222 probation officers.
After approximately one year long brake employees of State probation service could meet again and discuss professionally challenging questions. This work will be continued in 2014. In the beginning of 2014 it’s planned to hold 4 peer reviews on general questions of supervision and later 12 peer reviews on specific issues of probation supervision.
In 2013 four seminars of “Motivational interviewing” took place. Their aim was to supply knowledge on motivational interviewing, give and develop abilities to use motivational interviewing in practice with substance abusers and offenders.
The seminars were conducted by trainers of motivational interviewing who are working in probation service. These seminars were attended by 34 probation officers and 32 prison administration officers. Groups were recruited in proportion 50/50 with aim to foster collaboration between both institutions by strengthening the professional bonds of colleagues and sharing experiences of different work environment.
In 2014 there are planned 6 more seminars of Motivational interviewing. These seminars will be organized for those officers who have not learned this method.
In 2013 seminar “Motivational interviewing for trainers” was held with an aim to improve knowledge of probation officers. This seminar was conducted by trainers from Ila prison (Norway). During the seminar Latvian trainers could improve and complete their knowledge. In the seminar took part 6 probation officers and 6 prison administration officers who were already acquainted to this method, and two probation officers and two prison administration officers who learned this method from the very beginning. Those trainers who had learned the method previously are now allowed to train (multiply) new trainers of Motivational interviewing by themselves, but those newly trained ones will obtain these rights only in second half of the 2014 when trainers of Ila prison will complete their training.
It’s planned that in 2014 experts from Norway will arrive to Latvia three times with the aim to foster and complete the knowledge of motivational interviewing of their Latvian colleagues.
Due to support of the Project it is possible to continue work on training of the experts in field of work with sex offenders. In 2013 two seminars “Introduction to work with sex offenders” were held. In these seminars probation officers who do not work with sex offenders learned this specific knowledge. The aim of the seminar was to supply basic knowledge of work with sex offenders and develop skills to conduct professional conversation with sex offenders (therapeutic interview). This seminar was held by leading experts of State probation service in field of work with sex offenders. These experts elaborated course programme for five days for mixed groups. In total this seminar was attended by 18 probation officers and 16 prison administration officers.
All the officers who in 2013 attended seminar „Introduction to work with sex offenders” will continue their studies in 2014 through seminar „Risk and need assessment and supervision in society”. After finishing this training the attendees will get certificate that authorizes them to lead sex offender supervision cases.
There are two more seminars “Introduction to work with sex offenders” which are planned to be held on 2015.
Those officers, who already have acquired motivational interviewing skills for work with sex offenders, on November of 2013 had one day seminar “Refreshment of knowledge in work with sex offenders”. 39 probation officers whose duties contain work with sex offenders took part in these seminars. The seminar was prepared and conducted by specialists of state probation service. They took into consideration needs and suggestions of participants. These seminars of “Refreshment of knowledge in work with sex offenders” will be continued as well in 2014.
In improving the capacity of probation and prison officers in 2014 there will be held a seminar “Work with clients with mental disorders”. This course substantially will resemble the one that was carried out through the previous project No LV0024. There also will be new and very necessary seminar about training of “Conversational skills”. At the end of 2014, when State probation service we will get closer to practical introduction of electronic monitoring, new course of instruction about new alternative will be held.
In 2014 it is planned to organize training of 45 probation and 15 prison leaders on “Change management”.
In challenging daily work of probation officers there is significant need of professional supervisions of therapist. Starting from 2014 probation officers will be provided with the supervisions so to help maintain their professional sustainability, prevent professional burn out and improve specific skills in work with clients. It is planned that probation officers will be provided with more than 600 hours of therapy.
Probation service of Latvia is the only place in Latvia where someone can become an expert in probation issues. Each function department has its specific study materials for new employees. Probation officers can access these materials through intranet or receive by e-mail. Looking at the experience of other countries, State probation service has come to a conclusion that it is necessary to start using advantages of contemporary technologies. Thus it is planned to consolidate all the existing study materials in one e-learning environment. This model will help to balance theoretical and practical part of learning, thus rising efficiency of learning process. A first step made towards e-learning system was the labor of working group from September till November. This group elaborated technical specification for procurement, in 2014 it is planned to launch procurement of e-learning system.
On-line learning system will be a crucial part of learning system in State probation service, which will be continued after the end of the Project thus providing continuity of Project outcomes.
Another way to increase professionalism of probation staff is attendance of international conferences that provides opportunity to share the best experience in different professional issues. This kind of conferences are regularly organized by Confederation of European Probation (CEP), conferences in field of work with sex offenders are organized by Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) and National Organization for the Treatment of Abusers (NOTA). The attendee of each conference writes a report, so that the obtained knowledge is preserved and the understanding of progressive changes in the fields is promoted thus providing the continuity of project results.
- 24.-27.09.2013. Cardiff (Great Britain) - NOTA annual conference, attended by three representatives of State probation service of Latvia;
- 25.10.-04.11.2013. Colorado Springs (USA) - International Corrections and Prison Association – ICPA annual conference, attended by one representative from State probation service;
- 7.-10.10.2013. London (Great Britain) - CEP General Assembly and First world probation congress, attended by four representatives from State probation service. In this event Project manager Imants Jurevičius was elected to be CEP board member;
- 28.10 – 4.11.2013. Chicago (USA) - ATSA annual conference, attended by two representatives from State probation service, specialists in work with sex offenders;
- 10.-12.12.2013. Vilnius (Lithuania) - Network of prevention of delinquency in Europe, annual conference on good practice, attended by one representative from State probation service.