This project is funded by:

Logo EACEA Logo Lifelong Learning Programme EU


Europe is facing many great challenges that result from the need for increased integration of policies in the area of freedom, security and justice in Europe:

  • The Council of Europe has set up Probation Rules which describe a number of basic elements (knowledge, skills and values) that have to be met by probation services. Education should pay attention to this.This is supported by the Stockholm Program, the EU Prison Rules and the United Nations Prison Rules: each country must offer the same quality of supervision, detention or guidance: European citizens must have the same rights.This project makes an important contribution to the synchronization of these rights
  • Probation Services are still under development in a large number of European countries (Van Kalmthout & Durnescu 2010 – Probation in Europe). Professionalism is an important part of this development. Under the umbrella of CEP, all European members have committed themselves to improve the quality of professionalism in the field of probation criminal social justice.This project is a good example of this commitment. 
  • Citizens in Europe must have the opportunity for (suspended) prison in the country of origin. This is explicitly stated in the Framework Decisions. The implementation of the opportunity for (suspended) prison in the country of origin starts in November 2011. Many countries are now preparing themselves, mostly in legal sense. After 2011 there will be a large number of convicted persons who want to use the solution of the Framework Decisions: this requires a mainstreaming of methods of detention and probation for Europe. Probation officers in Europe must be trained and educated to implement the Framework Decisions and to use them in a genuine European way.This project offers education and training modules to implement the Framework Decisions. 

The contribution of European education in the field of Criminal Justice Social Work (CJSW) is necessary to support the integration of policies in the area of freedom, security and justice in Europe.To meet this challenge, the partners want to improve European cooperation between public justice professionals and education and training institutes.



  • The modules focus on the skills, knowledge and values extracted from the Council of Europe Probation Rules, written by professors Rob Canton, Sonja Snacken, Anton van Kalmhout, and adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 20 January 2010 at the 1075th meeting of the Ministers‟ Deputies.The Probation Rules were not only important to structure the teaching materials, but were also of normative value: Europe expects us to educate our (future) professionals according to these guidelines.
  • A distinction was made between starting, basic and extended modules: 
    • A starting module was obligatory for all students. 
    • Basic modules focus on essential skills, knowledge and values for working with mandated clients in Europe.The acquisition of skills was of primary importance in these modules: knowledge and values have supporting roles. 
    • Extended modules were developed as well. They were adapted to national requirements where necessary, leading to geographically dependent additions to the core modules, thus guaranteeing a more thorough local student development, tailored to the needs of local (future) employers. 
  • A summer school was developed for the basic module, where students, professors/teachers and practitioners shared knowledge and expertise and developed new insights.


Starting module

1. Perspectives & Legal Context
This module addresses the following four concepts:

  • Why have probation organizations been developed in almost all European countries as an alternative or additon to prison sentences? In connection to this: What is the mission of probation work? What are the shared foundations, or charters, between the organizations? Why did probation work became a profession? 
  • What is the purpose and what are the goals of probation work in Europe: The module will look into different and sometimes apparently conflicting goals of probation work: social safety and crime reduction, social inclusion, rehabilitation and restoration. 
  • How are probation organisations embedded in national and international law? The module will focus on European laws and so-called framework decisions, European prison and probation rules, but also on major diffences in national law and criminal justice systems. 
  • How does probation work? The module will teach students how probation work relies on the social sciences. The major approaches here are What Works, the desistance / good lives aproach and basic elements of social work with offenders, including monitoring & risk-management. 

Study load: 6 ECTS (12 UK Credits)
Lead developers: De Montfort University and the Université de Reims-Champagne

Basic Modules

2. Working Alliance 
This module allows the student to develop skills, knowledge and values related to one of the most important elements of probation work: Developing a working alliance with the offender. Many practitioners and researchers regard this as the heart of probation work. Guidance and control must be combined, resulting in a so-calld hybrid relationship. Apart from general considerations and training in this subject, the module allows students to tailor their skills to special offender groups, such as women offenders, and offenders with psychiatric disorders.

Study load: 6 ECTS (12 UK Credits)
Lead developers: Avans University, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, Dutch Probation Services.

3. Assessment & Report Writing
Analysis of the offenders personal situation and context (especially of the reasons behind his criminal behaviour) and the use of reliable decision making techniques are of paramount importance for formulating the right goals and the most suitable strategies and interventions. To this end, both risk assessment and interviewing techniques have been developed. Probation workers are not in the position to decide about all guidance and controlling measures on their own. They are dependent on court-decisions and to this end they are often required to write pre-sentence reports. This, in itself, is an important skill that gets major attention in this module.  

Study load: 6 ECTS (12 UK Credits)
Lead developers: De Montfort University and KRUS

4. Working in a (Learning) Organisation
Probation work is a challenging profession. Many offenders confront the worker with major problems that make them fall back into criminal behaviour. Caseloads tend to be high, and the criminal justice process in itself is often complex and time-consuming. Probation workers therefore need resilience, optimism, excellent project management skills and team building skills. 

Study load: 3ECTS (6 UK Credits)
Lead developers: Avans University, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, and the Université de Reims-Champagne

Extended Modules

5. Developing Human Capital
Human capital is typically seen as motiviation; capacities, skills and knowledge that can support individuals to live a constructive and fulfilling life. Motivating offenders to change their old habits is an important part of probation work.  Especially on the role of human capital and the ability of practitioners to assist offenders in living more conventional lives. Theoretical frameworks, such as Risk-Need-Responsivity, the Good Lives Model and Desistance are discussed. The way reseach-based knowledge should be used in everyday practice is also discussed in the module.

Study load: 6 ECTS (12 UK Credits)
Lead developers: Bucharest University and the University of Latvia

6. Social Capital and Social Networks  
This module explores the concepts of social capital, social networks and social support. It considers the role of probation officers and services in working with others to support offenders into better lives as better citizens. This is intended to complement the focus in other modules on how probation staff can work to help people improve themselves; by contrast, this module is more concerned with the wider social and community contexts of positive change, and on the range of agencies and services engaged in this process.

Study load: 3ECTS (6 UK Credits)
Lead developers: Avans University, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, and the Université de Reims-Champagne



The final products of the project are:

  • The six teaching modules. 
  • An online educational platform on which all the teaching material is available, the ‘Community of Practice’ (CoP). The platform facilitates interactive learning and encourages international collaboration between students, teachers and professionals. For more information see the tab ‘Community of Practice’.
  • VODcasts that support the teaching of the modules. In these VODcasts the developers describe the purpose, content and teaching methods.  
  • A dissemination and exploitation plan.
  • A detailed management report, including a financial accountability section. 



All teaching modules lead to well-defined competencies as learning goals: mastery of a module is measured in clearly defined observable behaviours (including reports). Successful completion a module is linked with increased (future) professional responsibilities and/or task specialization.

  • For higher educational institutions, the modules are linked to credits (ECTS, 1 credit corresponding to 28 study hours). To make sure that each module, and the complete set of CJSW modules, have national and international value, the definition of the competencies to be achieved in every module correspond to the Dublin Descriptors, included in the overarching Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (the Bologna Framework): the modules contribute to of the qualifications in the First cycle (bachelor degree) and Second cycle (master degree or master plus degree). In addition, completing a subset of the teaching modules leads to an Advanced Certificate or Higher Certificate (Short cycle within the first cycle). Modules must be combined by the educational institute to result in the nationally or locally required amount of credits. 
  • For workers in professional organizations, successful completion of the teaching modules should lead to higher education qualifications as well. To realize this, we encourage professional and educational institutions to collaborate: 
    • Educational institutions can recognize the credits of teaching modules provided by professional organizations. An auditing procedure/quality system can be developed to make sure that the professional organizations provide teaching a the required level. 
    • Students of higher educational institutions will then have the opportunity to complete teaching modules in a professional organization, for instance during their internship. 
    • Professionals already working in the field will have the opportunity to complete teaching modules in educational institutions, leading to new contacts, „out of the organization thinking‟, and more career opportunities.