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The EPTA-I end of project Evaluation report

18 November 2021

The project has given the EPTA network a solid internal structure and increased external visibility. – EPTA-I Project team member

At the end of September, the European Penitentiary Training Academies Network (EPTA) organized the first Annual Conference in hybrid format, the report of which shall be published online shortly. The conference was supported by the EU-funded project ‘Innovating Together: Connecting European Penitentiary Training Academies.’ While the NHC, in cooperation with the EPTA Steering Committee and its new President, and the Centre for Legal Studies and Specialised Training (CEJFE) are looking forward to organizing more (hybrid) events, we look back on the successful closure of the first EPTA project.

In 2018, the EPTA network launched EPTA-I, an EU commission funded three-year project set up to “create a sustainable, professional and active EPTA network, which will tackle gaps in cross-border cooperation for Penitentiary Training Academies.” From this project, outputs include a highly valued website and materials on topics ranging from ‘Leadership’ to ‘Difficult Inmates’ that were developed by the three Special Interest Groups.

In the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic could have had considerable negative impact on the project and the functioning of the network. Fortunately, the EPTA network quickly adapted to the new circumstances and remained steadfast in their work. Indeed, the concerted efforts of the project team, network steering committee, secretariat and the various working groups, should be considered a clear indication of the strength of the network and the resilience of collaborations forged through the project. This was one of the main conclusions to come out of the EPTA-I end-of-project report. The report documents the achievements and efforts of the project team, network steering committee, secretariat and the various working groups. Alongside achievements, this end of term reports covers further conclusions and evaluations of the project as well as recommendations for the future.

The growth in members shown in the above image is especially impressive, since its inception in 2010, the number of EPTA members has grown from 11 members to its current membership of 32 training academies in 30 countries of the Council of Europe. Why the members engaged in the network was asked in the evaluation questions of the project (See below for results):

What were the main reasons for your engagement with the network? was one of a number of questions asked in the evaluation process of the project, which consisted of an online survey and semi-structured interview from 22 members and partners (NHC and Europris). The evaluation questions were developed across three areas:

  1. Functioning of the network
  2. Effectiveness of the project
  3. Sustainability of the results

From this process it was derived that a number of intended results were realised, amongst which the networks’ ability to achieve increased awareness on good European practises of training staff and management. According to the members “most of the value of EPTA lies in less easily measurable aspects of change such as exposure and inspiration.” However, in order to maintain these results, the report concluded that more support is needed from the network and its members to strengthen organizational interest in the work of EPTA.

At network level, EPTA has been very successful in setting up a robust structure that has proven both its relevance and its resilience –Emma Oosten, NHC Programme Manager

 The report also provided a number of recommendations to support the further strengthening of the EPTA network. Many of these recommendations align with NHC’s strategy for the Criminal Justice Programme. The following recommendations were partly formulated based on the respondent’s answers to the survey. In the interest of clarity, the recommendations were grouped into the following three sections:

  1. Increase member engagement
  2. Ensure continued relevance of (training and meeting) content
  3. Improve monitoring and learning

Keep going, […]. Thank you for your commitment!  – EPTA member

Read the EPTA-I end-of-project evaluation report here.

Role of EPTA

The European Penitentiary Training Academies (EPTA) network has 32 members with training academies in 30 countries of the Council of Europe. The aim of the network is to provide a structural framework for inspiration, developing cooperation and providing insights surrounding topics that are relevant to the training of penitentiary staff. These topics are discussed when EPTA meets once a year in one of the partner countries.

About the Criminal Justice Reform Programme

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.