Stages of the Correctional Journey

In many countries there is provision for some form of pre-sentence supervision, aimed at assisting with problems which are associated with offending, or at monitoring people awaiting trial, avoiding the high cost of prison detention.  Sometimes co-operation with pre-sentence supervision can lead to discontinuance of the criminal proceedings (e.g. CROATIA).  In ENGLAND and WALES there is a national scheme to place selected cases into supported accommodation pre-trial (the BASS scheme); each is assigned a "key worker" (case manager) for the period.  

The DOMICE project was interested in examples where a structured approach to case management in the pre-sentence period leads smoothly into any work undertaken after sentence.

In the NETHERLANDS and SPAIN a case manager is assigned to cases held in custody; the same case manager retains responsibility after sentence.  In PORTUGAL all pre-sentence electronic monitoring cases are assigned a probation case manager, so that electronic monitoring forms part of a broader support package.  

A recent programme in ENGLAND and WALES, called Integrated Offender Management (IOM), brings together staff from the police, probation service, drugs services and other NGOs in integrated teams to provide continuous case management throughout the correctional system.  The aim is to integrate (as the programme title says) the different case management approaches of the constituent agencies. The programme is at very different stages in different parts of the jurisdiction, and builds upon the successes of earlier approaches like MAPPA and PPO (Prolific and other Priority Offender) schemes.

Assess, Plan, Implement & Review

The main purpose of undertaking an assessment is to make a plan; the main purpose of making a plan is to implement it.  Implementing the plan is the single most important element of the case management process. 

The DOMICE project was interested to learn about approaches which were designed to make the implementation of plans more effective.

In GREECE and BULGARIA prisoners receive a time-served credit of greater than a day for a day for time spent co-operating with their Sentence Plan; this provides a powerful incentive.

In NORWAY only the outer parameters of a non-custodial sentence are defined by the Judge; the case manager has the discretion to define the precise details of the sentence, providing maximum "leverage" to secure and reward co-operation. 

Delivery models

While there is a mixed economy of specific, specialist interventions, in most of Europe, case management is the responsibility of staff employed in a government department or Ministry.  This is not universally the case.  The appetite for competition and "outsourcing" from the public sector is growing:

In BADEN-WURTTEMBERG (GERMANY) and AUSTRIA all probation provision is provided by a not-for-profit independent agency - Neustart.  In CATALONIA there are similar arrangements for non-custodial sentences.  In the NETHERLANDS there are three providers of case management; the work is divided according to the main offender problem area.  In ENGLAND and WALES pre-sentence supervision, combined with supported housing, is provided by Stonham Housing, a not-for-profit organisation; there are some new payment-by-results schemes providing post-release suport and supervision for those who are not the subject of statutory supervision (parole).  In MACEDONIA unpaid work is contracted to independent agencies.

In SLOVENIA and SCOTLAND there is no separate probation service, or its equivalent; all statutory work with offenders is fully integrated with other local social and welfare services.

Where Neustart is the provider, and in POLAND, there is a significant use of community volunteers to act as case managers, under supervision, of the less serious, less risky cases.

Quality assurance

Since good quality case management is so important to the effectiveness and efficiency of correctional systems, DOMICE was interested in arrangements for the ongoing quality assurance of case management work.

MALTA and ENGLAND and WALES  both require case managers to achieve specialised qualifications before they can practice as a case manager.  In most other jurisdictions people qualified in other disciplines are appointed to the role and then trained whilst in post.

In LATVIA, the NETHERLANDS and SLOVAKIA the project was told about peer reviews and quality circles which maintain good quality.  In the latter of these, the arrangements are run off-line by the local university.

In POLAND and the NETHERLANDS video recording and analysis is used to help develop high quality interview skills.

ESTONIA and ENGLAND and WALES have formal systems for reviewing serious further offences to make sure that the lessons learned are integrated back into practice.

NORTHERN IRELAND and the NETHERLANDS the external, independent audit of correctional work helps ensure objectivity and accountability.

SERBIA is a rare example where offenders themselves can provide feedback on the quality of service to a supervising Judge.

The Offender Engagement Programme in ENGLAND and WALES
 is a good example of a comprehensive national programme to improve the core engagement skills of case managers.