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Enhancing Cooperation & Increasing Evaluation Between Penitentiary Training Academies: EPTA in 2022

29 June 2022

“I see EPTA as a very interesting network for sharing experiences and for advancing new ways to promote the best practices in terms of training and research.” – Marc Cerón (Centre for Legal Studies and Specialized Training)

At the 14th Annual Conference of the European Penitentiary Training Network (EPTA) last September, the Centre for Legal Studies and Specialized Training (CEJFE) in Catalonia took over the EPTA presidency for 2022.  As we kick-off the 15th EPTA Annual Conference this week in Barcelona , find out more about the Centre’s objectives for EPTA, as well as initial take-aways from the conference.

The CEFJE in a nutshell

The CEJFE is an autonomous governmental entity conducting specialised training and research activities in the field of law and justice. As EPTA President, the CEJFE is responsible for organizing this year’s EPTA Annual Conference, a platform that facilitates interesting exchanges in the field of penitentiary training. The 2022 EPTA Annual Conference has the theme “The Need to Evaluate Training: A work in progress” and focuses on sharing different approaches to strategies and practices for assessing the work of training academies, and the impact this has on the quality of prison services. This year, the Centre is hosting the first fully in-person Annual Conference in two years.

On the theme of the Conference: “We are aware that the theme we chose seems complicated but we believe it is important to evaluate what we do and ensure that our activities are relevant. In the end, the hope is that those attending the Conference will make connections and take home new ideas.” Mark Cerón, CEJFE

From the 15th Annual Conference: Capacity building in prisons

Following on this, Marijke van Veen, NHC Committee Member and Criminal Justice expert, and Leo Tigges, NHC Senior Probation Expert, presented their prison capacity-building model at the first day of the conference in Barcelona.

As Leo Tigges reflected: “At the core of everything, staff needs to feel safe. This is the basis of a good relationship between staff and inmates. These relationships provide the grounds for stimulating reintegration, bringing up the question: How am I going to pick up my life when I leave prison.”

More reflections from the conference to follow.

More on EPTA & CEJFE

The EPTA Network was founded in 2010 by heads of European Penitentiary Staff Training Academies to provide a structure that supports sharing of training methodologies and contents across Europe. It aims at developing cooperation that enhances initial and continuous training of correctional staff and at increasing awareness of correctional staff’s work in prison settings.

The CEJFE is committed to helping the EPTA Steering Committee, the network’s advisory body, enhance cooperation between the organisation’s members, and hopes to achieve this goal by “

The CEJFE also stressed the importance of cross-border cooperation in the field of prison reform, saying “of course, all systems have lessons to share and it is always enriching to have the opportunity to visit other countries and see how they work. This provides you with a different vision about your work and you have new tools and new ideas to incorporate in your daily routine.”

Background to EPTA & NHC

The NHC has collaborated closely with EPTA in the past. In 2018, the NHC, in conjunction with EPTA and EuroPris, devised a project aimed at “creating a sustainable, professional and active ETPA network, which is able to tackle gaps in cross-border cooperation by stimulating participation and exchanges within the wider network.” In this project, three expert groups developed training manuals on the topics Leadership and Management, Dynamic Security and Managing Difficult Inmates. These manuals, which include best practices, a training handbook, and recommendations of minimum standards, are now used by EPTA members to develop trainings in these areas in order to address challenges within their prison systems. Presently, the NHC and EPTA are closely collaborating on a project that began in 2021 and aims to safeguard respect for the fundamental rights of prisoners by stimulating adequate training for correctional staff in the European Union. The project, which is conducted together with EuroPris, and in conjunction with National Training Academies across the EPTA network, aims to connect European Penitentiary Training Academies and stimulate engagement within the network. This will allow existing and future members to collectively benefit from the results.

For more information about the EPTA network and its members, please visit the EPTA website. Click here to find out more about the current EPTA project and here for information about the previous project.