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Milestone: Nationwide probation PR campaign set to roll out in Ukraine

18 November 2021

At the time, the probation service in Ukraine was only four years old; it was a completely new kid on the block in the criminal justice chain. The judiciary was not yet very convinced about alternative sanctions, if it already knew what it was, while the general public probably did not even know how to write the word, and the communications budget of the probation service was about, close to zero… – Koen Goei, NHC’s Criminal Justice Reform Programme Manager mention during his presentation on “Building up probation” at the CEP Conference in Prague, October 2021

Despite these humble beginnings, the Ministry of Justice in Ukraine confirmed at the end of October that it will now adopt a national communications and PR strategy focused on the benefits of probation, as developed by the NHC and our partners and experts, within the scope of the “Detention and Alternative Sanctions in Ukraine” project. Together with our partners CILC, the Dutch Probation Service (The Netherlands,) and the Centre for Judicial Studies (Ukraine), and in cooperation with our external probation PR expert Imants Mozers, Head of PR for Latvian Probation Services, we have reached an important milestone in the acceptance of our jointly produced communications and PR strategy for the further roll out of probation services in Ukraine.

The project as a whole aims to further develop the capacities of the Ukrainian Probation Service. In making this service fully operational, the project focuses on capacity-building in all probation practices.

This is an important milestone that has been reached and must be used to intensify the understanding of all the target audiences of the role of probation in Ukraine.Ukrainian Ministry of Justice officially confirming adaptation of strategy

Key messages and goals of the communications strategy for probation

The Communications strategy contains both a short summary of the “why” of probation, as well as the goals and means by which this why is to be communicated to the target audience. The key messages outlined in the strategy are:

  1. Probation is sentence without isolation from society
  2. Probation is not punishment avoidance
  3. Probation works towards safety in society

A thorough document outlining everything from key stakeholders to possible campaigns and which messages should be the focus for which target audience. Extensive research will lay the groundworks for further roll out of the strategy, with the focus on “working out messages aimed at transforming the mindset and increasing trust towards probation”.  An important milestone includes running a campaign “Announcing probation in Ukraine”, with a goal of shaping public opinion towards the conclusion that probation is not punishment avoidance – but rather a viable, alternative sanction that ultimately makes society safer, without having to isolate perpetrators from society.

In its core, the strategy outlines what Jochum Wildeman, Head of the international Department of the Dutch Probation Service, so aptly summarized in his part of the presentation on “Building up probation” at the CEP Conference in Prague, October 2021;

What about the why of probation in Ukraine? Because it is such a large country, it is the biggest probation organization in Europe. So that is why I was very pleasantly surprised that we also started doing something different in Ukraine than just looking at probation practices from a technical and operational point of view. We also started to think about the communication strategy in a more commercial way, as a brand, as a story … What we do is great and the why and what we can do can be sold very well.

For more information on our probation project in Ukraine: Detention and Alternative Sanctions in Ukraine

For more background reading about two of the trainers from the project, read our interview with Jochum and Imants in the NHC’s 2019 Annual Report.

Follow our channels for a more detailed write up of the CEP Conference on Restoration to Normality that took place in Prague in October 2021, including the innovative presentation from Koen Goei, Imants Mozers and Jochum Wildeman on the development of probation in Ukraine and Serbia and Montenegro.

About Criminal Justice Reform

We believe a criminal justice system focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment is better at contributing to safer societies. The Criminal Justice Programme promotes and supports criminal justice reform that works to ensure offenders are able to successfully re-enter society and do not re-offend. By providing tools and trainings to prison staff or probation officers, we help improve the implementation of justice. By bringing together high-level officials, policy experts, and seasoned practitioners from different countries, we contribute to the development of the most effective policies and practices. We also promote collaboration between different actors in the justice system, such as judges, prosecutors, probation, prison, and civil society organisations to ensure reforms pursued are effectively implemented throughout the entire system.