IPRT response at webinar: Evidence Review of Community Service Policy, Practice and Structure
6th December 2022
On Tuesday 6th December 2022, the Irish Probation Service held an online event for the launch of their research report: Evidence Review of Community Service Policy, Practice and Structure.
The Evidence Review was commissioned as part of the Probation Service’s commitment to reviewing the existing model of Community Service in Ireland and maximising its potential within the Irish criminal justice system. The final report makes a series of interesting recommendations aimed at reforming and revitalising the current operating model that will be considered by the Probation Service in future phases of the Community Service review process.
IPRT’s Executive Director, Saoirse Brady, was a panel respondent at the webinar launch.
Saoirse’s comments focused on:
- Community service is one of the key ways to ensure that people convicted for less serious offences can serve their sentence in the community rather than in prison. IPRT hope that this will ensure that more people sentenced to shorter term sentences can avoid prison.
- Welcoming the timely nature of the review as part of the bigger policy agenda in reforming the criminal justice system and ensuring that imprisonment is used as a last resort. While research was carried out before the publication of the Policy Options Review for Prison and Penal Reform in August 2022, this first phase of work for the Probation Service will lay the groundwork for greater progressive action in this area.
- One of the key points from the review for IPRT were the positive emphasis on relationships and how those can ultimately reduce reoffending.
- The need for greater communication, in particular with the public, about what community service means in practice and that it still is serving a sentence.
- Pleased to hear that the Probation Service will be engaging with judges to see how they can make better use of community-based sanctions, as they the judiciary will be a key audience in this work.
- The need to communicate with the NGO/charity sector as well to ensure that meaningful placements are available. While IPRT advocate for more community service, it is important to acknowledge that there must be enough places available if we want to see growth in the use of community service as an alternative to prison.
- While government policy is moving in the right direction, we need to see resources and implementation of the key recommendations in the review.
It's clear that relationships, communication with the public and judiciary, and proper resourcing will be key to implementing the pragmatic recommendations.
A recording of the webinar is available on the Irish Probation Service Zoom here. Saoirse’s comments commence at 00:50:10.
The full research report 'Evidence Review of Community Service Policy, Practice and Structure' is available here.