Implementation of Electronic Surveillance
In the second half of the year 2015, active work on the implementation of electronic surveillance in Latvia, including establishment of the Electronic Surveillance Centre, was continued within the framework of the State Probation Service project No. LV08/1 “Increasing the Application of Alternatives to Imprisonment (Including Possible Pilot Project on Electronic Surveillance)” (hereinafter referred to as – the Project) launched on 3 June 2013:
In July 2015, a contract on supply of the electronic surveillance system was entered into with the winner of the procurement “SuperCom Limited”; implementation, testing and maintenance of the electronic surveillance system was commenced. A contract on supply of the server equipment was entered into with the winner of the procurement LLC (SIA) “IPRO”, installation of the server equipment in the data centre of the Ministry of Justice was carried out; virtualization software for the server was purchased. A contract on lease of space for the purposes of the Electronic Surveillance Centre was entered into. Training of users and administrators of the electronic surveillance system conducted by the provider of electronic surveillance services “SuperCom Limited” took place.
7 referents for the electronic surveillance matters are employed in the Electronic Surveillance Centre, and these employees are with significant experience in probation work and work with offenders. They provide monitoring of the electronic surveillance clients 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
In August 2015, a contract on provision of maintenance of electronic surveillance IT infrastructure services was entered into with the State Joint-Stock Company “Tiesu namu aģentūra”.
More than 35 persons released from prisons were involved in the electronic surveillance programme before the end of 2015.
In the second half of the year 2015, 18 training seminars, 7 peer reviews, 16 regional seminars and 2 reviews regarding improvement of the tool of risk and needs assessment were organized.
For the purposes of improvements in quality of probation work with clients and mutual support to the colleagues, 7 peer reviews were organized with total participation of 110 Service officers. Peer reviews were organized both for the executors of surveillance and assessment reports and in the field of probation programmes.
The last Training for Motivational Interviewing Trainers organized within the framework of the Project is finished. Motivational interviewing specialists from the Norwegian Ila Prison visited Latvia twice a year to improve and refresh the trainers’ knowledge in motivational interviewing technique.
Seminar “Training of trainers for Conversation Skills Development Training”, in which 4 Service officers and 3 Prison Administration officers were trained, was organized. This seminar was conducted by the experts from Great Britain Elizabeth Hayes and Lydia Guthrie. Objective of the seminar was preparation of the Probation Service and the Prison Administration officers in the capacity of trainers of Conversation Skills, who would conduct trainings of prison and probation officers “Conversation Skills Development Training” in the future.
6 seminars “Conversation Skills Development Training” conducted by the trainers trained by the Probation Service were organized. Each of the trainers participated in direction of 2 seminars, and the trainings were conducted in pairs. 68 Service officers and 28 Prison Administration officers were trained in these seminars, and they were trained for efficient work with a manipulative client – prison and probation officers must be able to feel comfortable within the conversation process, listen, recognize lie, ask questions and react adequately to the manipulations carried out by the sentenced persons, thus, conducting the conversation purposefully.
2 seminars “Management of Change” with the participation of 37 Service officers took place. Objective of the seminars was preparation of the heads of prisons and territorial structural units of the Service and divisions for the implementation of criminal penalty reforms, including implementation of electronic surveillance as alternative to imprisonment in their institutions and management of the officers under their authority through this process.
Two last seminars “Introduction to the Work with Sex Offenders” were organized within the framework of the Project, and specialists of the Service for work with sex offenders trained 14 Service officers and 16 prison officers.
During the seminar, participants were provided an opportunity to acquire comprehensive basic information and knowledge about sex offenders; to acquire knowledge about cognitively behavioural therapy, methods and the mindset mistakes typical for sex offenders; to acquire knowledge about therapeutic interviewing of sex offenders and to understand the difficulties, which the specialist is facing during the work with sex offenders and the support system. These 14 Service officers trained in these seminars will carry on with training and acquire knowledge about application of risk and needs tools in 2016.
5 regional seminars – at Bauska, Ogre, in Rēzekne, Ventspils and Riga – have also taken place.
Regional seminars included demonstration of electronic surveillance devices, presentation of results and work regarding volunteer mentoring – volunteer work with young offenders, as well as examination of the practical aspects of preparation of assessment reports and implementation of surveillance within the context of electronic surveillance.
Throughout the year, in five seminars, trainings for the heads of programme for group work with sex offenders. Currently, circle of the Service specialists of the management of group work with sex offenders has grown by 6 specialists, while two specialists are employed in prisons.
Participants of the seminar have acquired comprehensive knowledge about the
social correction probation programme “TV-SOGP” (Thames Valley Programme), theories, objectives and tasks of block 1 and 2 of the TV-SOGP programme for the management of the sex offenders programme within the Service, skills in practical exercises and group management while working in groups of 3 colleagues and managing group sessions, in simulation with an actor and skills regarding assessment of the work by colleagues and provision of adequate feedback.
At the end of October 10 settlement specialists of the Norwegian National Mediation Service visited us. Overall, 30 participants took part in the training, including 20 settlement specialists of the Service. Objective of the event was promotion of cooperation and sharing of experience on mediation matters.
Trainings on children’s rights protection
In order to prepare Service and the Prison Administration officers for work with young offenders, which forms part of clients of the Service and provide for the officers special knowledge on children’s rights protection, the trainings on children’s rights protection provided in the Law on Children’s Rights Protection were organized in September, October and November 2015. Overall, 3 seminars were organized within six months with each of them lasting 5 days. 30 Service officers working with probation clients, as well as 43 Prison Administration officers were trained in these seminars.
Trainings on good practice for work with young offenders
In order to provide the Service officers’ professional specialization for the work with children and young offenders, on December 2015, one 4-day training seminar on work with young offenders with delinquent behaviour was provided. Training topics included explanation of reasons of unlawful behaviour of young offenders, as well as study- and experience-based foreign practices in work with young offenders. Seminar was conducted by psychology doctor Margarita Ņesterova. Seminar included training of 18 Service officers, the duties of whom included work with clients of the Service, aged between 14 and 25.
Two more seminars on good practice for work with young offenders by training 41 Service officers are planned in 2016.
Seminars on Norwegian practice in work with young offenders
In September 2015, two regional seminars for the Service officers and cooperation partners on Norwegian experience in the inter-institutional cooperation in work with young offenders took place at Kuldīga (for Kurzeme region) and Riga (for Riga region), while three more of such seminars took place in October – they were organized in Kocēni, Rēzekne and Riga. Objective of the seminars was introduction of the Latvian criminal rights and social support field’s specialists with the inter-institutional cooperation practice (“follow-up”) regarding sentenced and prosecuted minors.
Seminars were attended by the Service officers, as well as representatives of the State police, Prison Administration, the State Children’s Rights Protection Inspection, courts and prosecutor’s offices, orphan’s courts and schools, self-governments and social services from Riga and all the regions of Latvia, 185 persons in total.
Seminars were conducted by representatives of the Norwegian National Mediation Service, Lasse Rolen and Ketil-Leth Olsen, who shared their experience with the participants of the seminar on the inter-institutional cooperation practice in Norway, recent amendments in law, challenges, which the Norwegian National Mediation Service faced during organization of inter-institutional work groups. During the seminars, discussions on Norwegian experience and the implemented cooperation model, and its application for the improvement of work with young offenders in Latvia were aroused.
Conferences and meetings
Another way for improvement of the professional competence of the officers is participation in the international conferences and experience exchange visits providing opportunity to share the best practice of states in various fields of probation work.
Following international conferences and meetings were attended and experience exchange visits took place in the second half of the year 2015:
- 10–18 July 2015, business trip to Los Angeles (USA) to participate in the 2nd World Congress on Community Corrections and the 40th Annual Training Institute organized by the American Probation and Parole Association – APPA, as well as to strengthen capacity of the project’s strategic management (2 officers);
- 3–7 August 2015, business trip to Nuremberg (Germany) to participate in the conference “Current Challenges for Psychology and Law” organized by the European Association of Psychology and Law (2 officers);
- 25–26 August 2015, business trip to Brussels (Belgium) to participate in the discussion on cooperation of the public sector with the electronic surveillance service providers, implementation of procurement procedures and control of fulfilment of contractual obligations, to get familiarized with the Belgian electronic surveillance programme and to perform preparatory work of the content of the 10th Confederation’s of European Probation Conference On Electronic Monitoring, as well as to strengthen capacity of the project’s strategic management (1 officer);
- 1–6 September 2015, business trip to Porto (Portugal) to participate in the 15th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology “Eurocrim 2015” (2 officers);
- 15–18 September 2015, business trip to Dublin (Ireland) to participate in the annual international conference of the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers – NOTA) (3 officers);
- 23–26 September 2015, business trip to Praha (Czech Republic) to participate in the conference “Renewing Justice and Probation” organized jointly by the Confederation of European Probation and Probation and Mediation Service of the Czech Republic (1 officer);
- 28 September-1 October 2015, business trip to Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) to participate in the European Council’s meeting on cooperation between the probation and prison services in promotion of social re-integration of sentenced persons, as well as to strengthen capacity of the project’s strategic management (1 officer);
- 12–19 October 2015, business trip to Montreal (Canada) to participate in the annual conference of the Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers – ATSA (3 officers);
- 25–26 October 2015, business trip to Utrecht (the Netherlands) to participate in the meeting of the standing work group for the preparation of the 10th Confederation’s of European Probation Conference On Electronic Monitoring, as well as to strengthen capacity of the project’s strategic management (1 officer);
- 24-27 November 2015, business trip to Hague (the Netherlands) to participate in the Sitting of the Board of the Confederation of European Probation and the Conference of the Heads of the European Probation Services, as well as to strengthen capacity of the project’s strategic management (2 officers);
- 9-11 December 2015, business trip to Dublin (Ireland) to participate in the international seminar on the development of e-studies systems for the employees organized by the Confederation of European Probation and the European Prison Organization (EuroPris) (1 officer).
Work with young offenders
Activities implemented in the second half of the year 2015:
Development of the programme for correction of the behaviour of young offenders
In July 2015, a researcher was hired for the development of the programme, and, in August, a work group of specialists was established for the development of the programme for correction of the behaviour of young offenders. Up to the end of the year, theoretical grounds and structure of the programme were developed, goals, practical exercises, selection criteria and procedure for the programme managers were defined, work on the development of training materials for the programmes and case managers is currently in progress.
This work will continue also in 2016, thus, completing the development of programme materials and commencing practical introduction of probation programme, including trainings of the implementers of the programme and recruitment of the first groups of probation clients.
Implementation of volunteer mentoring scheme in the Service operation
In June 2015, a training of 12 coordinators (Service officers), who were planned to perform coordination and support work of voluntary confrerers, took place. Coordinators were selected on the basis of application forms and upon assessment of professional knowledge in work with youngsters and children. From July up to September, involvement of volunteer mentors – public awareness on the pilot project – was implemented applying social networks, radio, press and other means of public awareness.
Overall, 98 application forms were received.
During the period between August and the beginning of November, 6 regional training seminars were organized, each of them – 2 days long. Overall, 72 volunteers were prepared for the voluntary work.
As of September 2015, the clients – young offenders under the surveillance of the Service - are being motivated to participate in the mentoring scheme, and meetings of the volunteers and Service clients are being organized for the commencement of the mentoring. Before the end of the year, 18 volunteers commenced work with Service clients, while 19 Service clients were involved in the mentoring scheme.
Study regarding effectiveness of probation programmes (PP)
During the 2nd half of the year 2015, within the study regarding efficiency of probation programmes:
- Work on development of competence models of the programme managers continued (analysis of literature and various competence models, discussions in work groups, establishment of competence model of the probation programme manager).
- Work on development of the monitoring form and analysis of video records continued.
- Work on study regarding criminal attitudes of clients before and after the intervention (data acquired during the survey were analysed; description of the study was commenced).
- Study on views and attitude of the case managers towards probation programmes was commenced (data were collected and analysed; description of the study was commenced).
- Study on relation between participation in probation programmes and decrease of criminal recidivism was commenced (study plan and group adjustment procedure were developed, study was commenced).
Study on efficiency of risk and needs assessment (RNA)
During the 2nd half of the year 2015, following actions were performed within the study regarding RNA tool efficiency:
- correction of risk and needs assessment data retrieved from the database PLUS;
- processing of data regarding criminal record of clients, retrieved from the Punishment Register database;
- acquirement and update of data from the Information centre of the Ministry of the Interior;
- data arrangement and re-coding for the implementation of the recidivism study;
- verification of the RNA prognostic validity in relation to the recidivism;
- development and presentation of the concept of sorting tool;
- integration of risk factors of a violent criminal offence in the RNA;
- description of sorting tool for the integration in the PLUS.
The obtained results of the study will allow for improvement of efficiency of the current risk and needs assessment tool, thus, allowing for more specific determination of recidivism risk among the Service clients and selection of the most suitable intervention methods. Work on the violence risk prognostication tool is currently in progress, thus improving the Service’s work with clients, who have been sentenced for violent criminal offences.
In order to improve work of law enforcement agencies with violent offenders, it is planned to introduce in detention facilities a scientifically tested new risk and needs assessment tool for the appraisal of violent behaviour and prognostication of recidivism – VRAG-R (Violent offender Risk Appraisal Guide – Revised). For the performance of this task, a work group has been established including researchers employed both by the Prison Administration and the Service.
In order to provide implementation of VRAG-R tool in the work of the Prison Administration, Dr. Robin Wilson, who is internationally recognized expert in the development of risk and need assessment tools and appraisal of validity, will visit Latvia several times. R.Wilson consults on implementation of VRAG-R tool, as well as provides support regarding improvement of the risk and needs tool used for the Service operation.
As well as:
Thanks to the opportunities provided by the project, in the second half of the year 2015, provision of support to poor and low-income probation clients was continued offering the reimbursement of travel expenses to get to the Service to meet the case manager or attend a probation programme class. Opportunity of reimbursement of travel expenses has been also offered to those Probation Service officers, who visit territory of any other structural unit of the Service in order to perform their direct professional duties in directing of probation programmes training or meet with a probation client.
Advice of mental health specialist has been provided to the probation clients with mental disorders.
Service Officers have been provided opportunity to see a psychotherapy specialist for individual support advice, which is a significant support for the reduction of burnout syndrome and strengthening of emotional stability.
Several procurements have been implemented in the second half of the year 2015, including procurement for improvement of probation case accounting system (PLUS), procurement of the training conducting services (lecturers’ procurement) and procurement of supply of equipment for the purposes of the project.