Dear EuroPris Members, dear colleagues,
With this first EuroPris newsletter in 2017 I would like to wish you all a very happy, positive and exciting new year with much health and energy to realize your personal and professional dreams and goals. Although life has not all been shiny and happy over the past months (years?) and also in 2017 we, Europe, the world, will face many challenges that can have an impact on our life, and on the way we live and work together. Many things that happened on the political arena in 2016 came to our surprise. So, it is good that there are things in life that are steady and that continue to surprise us in a positive way. Here I am talking of course of EuroPris.
Our network grew in 2016 to include a total of 30 European Prison Services – almost double from where we started 5 years ago. More members does not only mean a stronger network, it most of all means the availability a wider range of experts from a large variety of backgrounds and countries that can exchange their knowledge and ideas in our conferences, workshops and expert meetings. The EuroPris Secretariat organized a great number of events in 2016. Expert groups met on topics such as the transfer of prisoners under the EC Framework Decision 909, Real estate and logistics, Family relations; and some of them were combined with workshops, such as Radicalisation, ICT in prison and Foreign Nationals in Prison and Probation. We used many opportunities to promote the European Prison Information System (EPIS) and trained a number of countries in the use of the system. Two projects in which EuroPris participated had their final conference – STEPS2 Resettlement and Prisons of the Future. Many jurisdictions make also use of the possibility to have EuroPris as a connector to other Prison Services in Europe. By sending short and focused questionnaires through our Knowledge Management System (KMS) for example. But also, to share outputs of projects, to look for experts and expertise and to get connected with other countries on specific subjects. More and more EuroPris becomes the Centre of Expertise on European Prison matters – not so much in the sense that the Secretariat has all the expertise, but by knowing where or from whom to get the answer to what you might be looking for. We have been founded by our members and for our members – so, do not hesitate to contact us with any prison related question or issue. We will do our best to live up to your expectations.
Let me just highlight one step we took in 2016. Many of you will know the European Prison Regime Forum (EPRF) that was founded 20 years ago in 1996. For many years this was the annual opportunity to network with European colleagues about the latest developments in prison work. Last year it was agreed with the EPRF Steering group to start organizing this event under the umbrella of EuroPris. With the support of the Bulgarian Prison Service we started this cooperation with a two-day workshop in December at which participated 48 experts from 19 countries. The workshop was a very lively and inspiring exchange about the different types of work that Prison Services organize inside and outside of prisons in order to improve resettlement and employment opportunities for (ex) prisoners. Together with the participants we are looking forward to organizing this again in 2017.
At the start of a new year I want of course to also look into what 2017 brings. Next to planning many expert group meetings and workshops in the area of radicalisation, forecasting, risk assessments and mental health, we are also involved in the organisation of two big conferences. 1st International Correctional Research conference in cooperation with ICPA and the 2nd Technology in Corrections Conference in cooperation with CEP and ICPA.
And of course I am looking forward to meeting you and our members this year in Oslo at our Annual General Meeting on the 19th of June.
With my best wishes,