On 18 June 2020, a meeting of the Norway Grants International Working Group "Evaluation and Indicators” took place, where representatives from Norway, Latvia and five other European countries met remotely.
The Working Group first met in May last year in the United Kingdom, when a discussion was launched on the need to implement the Measuring the Quality of Prison Life survey (hereinafter – the Methodology) in the beneficiary countries of the Norway Grants. This tool allows for an effective assessment of the well-being of prison staff and prisoners, and provides information on conditions at the place of incarceration using 21 evaluation dimensions (e.g. respect, humanity, employee and prisoner relationships, well-being, personal growth). The Methodology involves conducting surveys of these target groups on a range of issues using a five-point scale ranging from “fully disagree” to “fully agree”. This Methodology has been developed in collaboration with the British scientist Alison Liebling and is constantly being improved. The Methodology involves carrying out an analysis of the environment of the prison through the prism of the views of the employees and prisoners, reflecting the actual prison environment and the areas where improvements are needed or what changes have already been made. It is effectively applied in many countries. As the researchers point out, the social and moral climate in prison has a direct relationship with the number of suicides of prisoners and rates of relapse.
Continuing the discussion on the implementation of the Methodology in the six beneficiary countries of the Norway Grants, during the meeting, Bethany Schmidt, a researcher at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, analysed the different possibilities of applying the Methodology.
In February 2021, in order to facilitate knowledge and experience-based learning of the Methodology and to allow it to be more effectively adapted to the situation of the correction services systems of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic, representatives of the Norway Grants programmes will receive training in Norway. The training practice will include various opportunities of applying the Methodology with real examples. It is planned that the training will be led by experts from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Upon returning to their home locations, participants of the training are expected to continue the implementation of the Methodology through research on the conditions of the prison environment. They will also be able to share their knowledge with colleagues and industry professionals, becoming the messengers of the Methodology.
Working together for a safe and inclusive Europe.