Irish Penal Reform Trust

IPRT Submission to the Probation Service Strategy 2021-2023

2nd March 2021

IPRT welcomed the opportunity to make a submission to the Probation Service on its upcoming Strategy. The submission was made through a public consultation survey. The upcoming Strategy will follow 'One Vision, One Team, One Standard', the Probation Service Strategic Plan 2018 – 2020.

The IPRT submission engages with each of the five 'pillars', as outlined by the Probation Service. 

Actions recommended by IPRT across these pillars include: 

  • Provide effective and tailored community sanctions and early release programmes nationwide that meet the needs of individuals and particular cohorts (e.g. women). This action is important in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in regards how the absence of face-to-face contact has impacted service-users.
  • Liaise with relevant bodies to ensure that offenders have access to suitable accommodation, supports and services.
  • Increase engagement with media to enhance public understanding about the Probation Service, focussing on ‘what works’ and dispelling proposals that are not supported by evidence.
  • Establish a Steering Committee focused on Community Sanctions. This committee should comprise of key stakeholders including members of the Judiciary, the Irish Prison Service, the Department of Justice, and community-based organisations. This committee should have a programme of work including, for example: reviewing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on various areas of work such as parole; enhancing the delivery of community sanctions for women; and expanding the eligibility of early release programmes such as Community Support Schemes and Community Return.
  • Establish a council comprised of service users to advise and inform the work of the Probation Service.
  • Champion and consider introducing an annual target to employ persons with convictions histories in the Probation Service.
  • Become a data-driven service. This would include commissioning and independently evaluating community sanctions and other probation practices.
  • Undertake audits to understand how community sanctions are operating in practice. This might include looking at, for example, the nature and content of community sanctions, the impact of such sanctions on re-offending rates (if any), the extent to which probation orders and Community Service Orders are being imposed and reasons for any low take-up of these orders by the courts.

Where appropriate, each of the above IPRT recommended actions is accompanied by a relevant indicator of success.

Read the IPRT submission in full here or download it below.

[Please note that while the exact content of the submission is reflected in the PDF version of the submission, the submission was originally made via online survey through www.probation.ie.]

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.

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