What is the PO21 Prison Officers for
In Europe, there are more than 588 940 citizens imprisoned. Everyday, more than 203 772 prison officers work to ensure safety to society and to provide inmates with opportunities that ease their reintegration process back to society. Prison officers have to respond to complex phenomena that often lead to the degradation of the material conditions of detention. Overcrowding; extremism and in-prison radicalisation; gangs and organised crime; inmates’ mental illness; and increasingly dangerous behaviours; are some of the challenges that PO face.
Despite this, prison officers lack proper initial and continuous training. The situation in Europe evidences a big difference in policies and practice inhibiting the mobility of professionals between Member-states and hindering the implementation of the Framework decisions on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters. The situation has been recently acknowledged both by the European Parliament and by the Council of Europe, who call for urgent action.
The present and future challenges that prison officers face require a different set of skills and behaviours than the ones for which they have been trained. There is an urgent need to agree on the initial and continuous vocational education and training that should be provided to prison officers in the future.
The current and future challenges that a prison officer faces everyday require a different set of skills and behaviours than the ones for which they have been trained. There is also an urgent need to agree on the initial and continuous vocational education and training that should be provided to prison officers in the future, regarding the learning objectives, content, length of the training courses, and recognition of competences that may foster mobility throughout the European Union.
Developed by sectoral representatives (prison administrations, trade unions, VET and research organisations, and representatives of correctional private and public sector members), the PO 21_ European Prison Officers for the 21st Century project aimed to:
A particular focus was given to digital skills since they
are increasingly changing the operational activity of
POs, as well as the way professionals relate with each
other and relate with inmates in prisons.
PO 21 aimed at creating a common well-adapted profile for Prison Officers today on an EU-level, considering the rapid contextual changes in the prison environment, which require constant adaptation and cooperation with other partners. The expected impact of PO 21 was the following:
For prison officers to be and feel better equipped when facing their everyday challenges;
Decreased levels of stress and burnout
For prison officers to experience an improvement in their wellbeing and decreased levels of stress and burnout;
Enhance and improve their skills
For prison officers to enhance and improve their skills;
Evolving sector skills needs
For correctional academies (VET providers) to be better prepared to address the always evolving sector skills needs;
Training which is continuous, up-to-date and balanced
For correctional academies to provide training which is continuous, up-to-date (according to the sector skills needs), and balanced (between security and support to rehabilitation and reintegration);
Curricula and qualifications to be formally recognised at EU-level;
For the adapted or new training curricula and qualifications to be formally recognised at EU-level;
Policy-makers to be better equipped
For policy-makers to be better equipped in the process of decision-making;
(Prison officers and Prison Administrations)
Better prepared to monitor and manage some of the challenges their prison systems may be facing.
At regional and national levels, it is expected that prison officers, alongside prison administrations, are better prepared to monitor and manage some of the challenges their prison systems may be facing.