Willem van der Brugge, Secretary General of the Confederation of European Probation (CEP): “Cooperation with local authorities should be a natural process”

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Efus interviewed Willem van der Brugge on the occasion of the first World Congress on Probation, held in London on 8-10 October 2013

Efus: What is the Confederation of European Probation and what does it do?

WVDB PictureWillem van der Brugge: CEP was established in 1981 as the professional organisation for the probation sector in Europe. Our members are organisations and interested individuals working in the field of probation. We aim to bring together practitioners, managers, academics, stakeholders and others working in the field of probation and criminal justice from all over Europe. CEP is in close contact with Brussels and Strasbourg, where we represent our network in the European bodies. We participate in European projects and organise international events with many partners.

Together with three organisations, EuroPris, the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) and Victim Support Europe, we established in 2011 the Criminal Justice Platform Europe (CJPE). The Platform is a strategic alliance to learn from each other and support each other in our work to reduce reoffending and the impact of crime, and to improve methods of work with victims, communities and offenders across all the countries of Europe.

How do you see the role of Local Authorities in probation ? What is your opinion about the Efus 2012 Manifesto of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis?

In essence probation is about doing justice and the restoration of human rights. Not only to do what is right for society but also what is best for the offender. Probation services are situated in the middle of the community. Cooperation or even conjunctions with a wide range of local authorities actually should be a natural process, for example with health organisations, housing companies and so on. The ‘Veiligheidshuizen’, or Houses of Safety, in the Netherlands are an excellent example of such cooperation between stakeholders in the criminal justice process and civil society.

The Efus Manifesto with its 19 recommendations is a guide for local authorities but also for organisations such as local probation services to improve the safety of citizens through cooperation in a sustainable way. The Manifesto of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis is a powerful confirmation that citizens want to participate in the discussion and decision making on local safety policies. In particular the recommendations on the prevention of reoffending, addiction and drugs, and urban risk management deserve extra attention when it comes to probation.

Probation policies are changing in many European countries. After the success of the World Congress on Probation organised in London on 8, 9 and 10 October 2013, how do you see the path ahead for probation in the next five years ?

The World Congress on Probation was a confirmation of the global interest in probation. The Congress was a platform for the exchange of practice and knowledge. Collaboration is the key to delivery of effective services and this is why the Directors General of Probation (DGs) in Europe have included an article with this intention in the Final Declaration of the Oslo DG meeting. Indeed, CEP invited the DGs to Oslo in April 2013, with the aim of setting out a path for the future of probation in Europe. The title of the Final Declaration that resulted from this meeting, ‘Probation, Reintegration and Restoration’, sets out a framework for governments and probation services.

With an optimistic first article that recognises the positive developments in probation such as innovation and a wider use of community sanctions, the DGs also concluded that the developing body of theory and research on desistance can be viewed as a valuable supplement to existing policy. Another article stresses that the probation sector must always be aware of the potential for mediation and restorative practices.

The probation sector in Europe is changing continually and I think that the Oslo Final Declaration is a useful roadmap for the next five years.


Download the Final Declaration from the CEP website 

More information about CEP on its website, which is designed to be a knowledge base on probation-related topics. Here you can also subscribe to the CEP newsletter in English or French and follow the CEP’s activity on Twitter.