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Development of probation service

January 2005 - January 2010

Providing supervision and social rehabilitation of offenders in community-based alternatives to prison.

In Russia, there is no established agency responsible for probation. In 1998 all correctional institutions were transferred from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Justice. Today all custodial and non-custodial penalties are implemented by the institutions of the Federal Service for the Enforcement of Penalties (FSIN).

At the initiative of Citizens’ Watch, a Pilot project was launched in St. Petersburg in 2006 to introduce elements of probation into practice of three Correctional Offices with an aim to widen their functions from mere control to supervision combined with social rehabilitation. In May 2008, five more Offices volunteered to join the project, thus increasing the number of pilots to eight. At present, the following districts of St. Petersburg participate in the project: Admiralteisky, Vassileostrovsky, Kirovsky, Nevsky, Vyborgsky, Kalininsky, Moskovsky, and Primorsky.

Further to the initial Agreement signed by seven government agencies and Citizens’ Watch, an additional Agreement between three agencies responsible for young offenders (Juvenile Section of the City Court, Committee for Youth Affairs, and Correctional Offices Department) and Citizens’ Watch was signed in April 2008.

The General Department of FSIN in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region requested assistance in arranging a comprehensive training course for their staff.

Comprehensive Training Programme for Probation Staff took place from November 2008 to June 2009 in the premises of Citizens' Watch.

The training was devised with an aim to introduce Russian Correctional Officers to a systematic and evidence based way of working with offenders.

The course was taught by three teams of British trainers, all former probation officers with experience in dealing with a wide range of criminal behavior. Participants were provided with printed material in the Russian language; a manual "Working With Offenders in Comminity" was specially written for the Russian project by Andrew Bernhardt and Keith Davies, University of Hertfordshire.

The group of trainees comprised 25 senior officers from the Criminal Executive Inspections of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.

Equipped with the knowledge and skills required of professional probation staff, Russian correctional officers are now able to provide their own responsive and effective means of reducing offending and of rehabilitating offenders. They can use standard forms in their work with young offenders - assessment and work plan; apply new methods and build better cooperation with other available services. It will hopefully result in lower rate of re-offence, lower rate of breaching the conditions of probation set by court, and more cases of successful social reintegration of offenders.

Previous activities of Citizens' Watch in this area include:

  • Research on probation services in western democracies
  • Research on probation development in post-Soviet countries
  • International conference “Probation: the European experience” (November 2005, St. Petersburg)
  • An FCO sponsored study visit of Russian experts to the UK, March 2006
  • An introductory training workshop “Individual work with offenders” taught by Andrew Bernhardt, University of Hertfodshire, in St. Petersburg, September 2006
  • Establishing contacts with the new national probation services in Estonia and Latvia; organising study visits to these countries for Russian experts
  • Participating in a few international conferences organised by the European Association of Probation Services (CEP)

Please also see Development of juvenile justice

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