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Criminal Justice Crossover Training | EPTA Conference

14 March 2024


“We’re not just tools, we’re here to make the system restorative, all parties should be present at all stages of the justice process” – Edit Törzs, European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ), Belgium

On Thursday 07 and Friday 08 March, The Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC) organised a Criminal Justice Crossover Training in partnership with EuroPris, the European Penitentiary Training Academies Network (EPTA), the Confederation of European Probation (CEP), and the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ). The training aimed to explore and strengthen cooperation between criminal justice systems in Europe, including facilitating joint training programs focused on prison, probation and restorative justice fields. Taking placing at the ‘Nutshuis’ in The Hague, participants discussed current challenges, training methodologies and ways to enhance professional mobility.

Approximately 35 professionals from the three sectors attended the training, where we conducted various sessions facilitated by Jana Spero (CEP), Gustav Tallving (EuroPris), Edit Törzs (EFRJ), Iva Prskalo and Matea Sršen (Croatia), Ann-Kristin Staaf (Sweden), Anna Esquerra Roqueta (CEP), Daniel Danglades (CEP), Bálint Juhász (EFRJ), and Bart Claes (EFRJ).

As Bart Claes concluded at the end of the session on ‘Transferable Skills for Criminal Justice Professionals’ and ‘Identifying Required and Developing Skills Across the Three Sectors:

“In conclusion, conducting an inventory to identify the strengths of your organization is crucial. Complementing the strengths in one sector with those in others, and recognising commonalities among the three sectors, can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of your organisation’s capabilities and potential for collaboration and growth.”

Two Days of Learning and Exchange

Participants of the training were divided into three groups: Probation, Prison, and Restorative Justice (RJ), and had a chance to learn, reflect and exchange ideas in teams.

Team 1: Restorative Justice (RJ)

The Restorative Justice team focused on the perspectives of victims, offenders, families and communities. In this, the role of voluntariness (participants entering RJ programs willingly), critical thinking, creativity and self-responsibility was pronounced in the discussions. Empowerment for both victims and offenders was important especially in fostering a safe environment for the two parties.

Team 2: Probation

The second team of participants focused on probation, and looked at issues such as gaining a clear understanding of external factors and networks. This then translates to a clearer plan to resettlement from the beginning of the probation process. The following psycho-social factors were also considered for all probation stages:

  • Flexibility and adaptability.
  • Visibility in the community.
  • Non-judgmental approach.
  • Belief in second chances.
  • Holistic approach to RJ, covering essential needs first.
  • Proactivity in addressing issues.
  • Professional empowerment and pride in the job.
  • Increased accessibility to services.

Team 3: Prison

Lastly, exchange of information regarding how to improve Europe’s prison systems was present. This included highlighting what kind of transferable skills could be fostered. This included boundary-setting, resilience, teamwork across staff categories and stress management.

The Criminal Justice Crossover Training provided a great opportunity for in-depth information sharing and participation and exchange of knowledge among EPTA network members, which we are proud to have facilitated.

For more on this project:

Disclaimer: The European Penitentiary Training Academies Project is funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme (2014-2020). The content of the training represents only the views of the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and is its sole responsibility. The European Commission does not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.