The Heads of Services who attended the 18th Annual ICPA Conference in Bucharest again met for one day prior to the conference to share their experience, challenges and practices and to learn from each other. The annual event first started in Colorado Springs in 2013 and has developed into an important feature of the conference week. Again, very well attended by 14 Commissioners and Directors-General, the Bucharest meeting was content rich and a forum of intensive exchange and learning about corrections worldwide. All continents were represented which added to the diversity of the experience. There was even one Minister for Correctional Services from an Australian State present who expressed his keen interest in learning from others to inform himself better on corrections policy and practice.
The meeting commenced with a 10 minute report from each jurisdiction. Major themes in 2016 contemporary corrections are the increase in prisoner numbers, declining resources and greater accountability, the need to focus stronger on the development of future operational leaders and the desire to strengthen community based corrections particularly in those jurisdictions where prisons and probation and parole are jointly managed. The jurisdictional reports were followed by discussions on Correctional Leadership and Radicalisation. The participants agreed to assist one another through ICPA with information sharing and support. In that context it was particularly relevant to agree on a renewed commitment to assist developing countries.
The evaluation of the day had all participants rate the meeting as very useful or useful, and gave comments on how ICPA can further assist the Heads of Service which included:
- Creating a platform for exchanging ideas, best practices;
- Offering more leadership training;
- Creating a forum for Heads of Services on the ICPA website;
- Enabling mutual learning, access to information and data and have regular professional discussions.
The day was summed up:
- The meetings are becoming more useful every year;
- I enjoyed the meeting and found it very useful and interesting, well done;
- I got a great deal of value from listening to the other Heads of Service and establishing future contacts.
A very worthwhile day of learning, sharing ideas and information and expanding the corrections network.
The next Heads of Services Meeting will take place in London, 22-27 October 2017.
Author: Peter Severin, ICPA Vice President