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Minister McEntee Welcomes Launch of Probation Service Annual Report 2021

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee welcomed the launch of the 2021 Annual Report of the Probation Service.

A key feature of the 2021 Annual Report was the launch of the Probation Service Strategy Statement: ‘Community Works for Community Safety’ which outlines its strategic priorities over a 3-year period.

The Report shows that significant progress has been made in year one of the Strategy with more than 60 per cent of its 106 associated actions confirmed as started and on track for completion.

Minister McEntee said, “the Probation Service performs a crucially important role within our criminal justice system in helping to reduce the level of crime and in enhancing public safety by working with offenders to help change their behaviour and make good the harm done by crime.”

“I would like to thank the Director, Mark Wilson and the team at the Probation Service for their unwavering commitment to service delivery and the effective management of risk in our communities while working under the exceptional challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Probation Service again remained operational through all stages of COVID restrictions last year, working with 15,448 people in the community and 2,730 individuals in prison.”

Another important area of focus for the Probation Service in 2021 highlighted in the report was the use of community sanctions in appropriate circumstances and delivering greater impact in areas such as social inclusion and reintegration. This included a comprehensive review of management structures which was completed in December 2021.

The Minister welcomed this important work, noting that it is aligned to the recommendations contained in the recently published Review of Policy Options for Prison and Penal Reform 2022-2024.

Commenting on the importance of the work undertaken by the Probation Service in this regard the Minister said, “one of the aims of the Review of Policy Options for Prison and Penal Reform 2022- 2024 is to reduce re-offending, including through community based sanctions in certain circumstances where this is appropriate.”

“The actions in the review balance the need to ensure that people who commit serious crimes receive a punishment and a prison sentence proportionate to that crime, while at the same time acknowledging that sometimes community based sanctions are more appropriate in diverting offenders away from future criminal activity, such as for offences which would usually lead to sentences of less than three months. The great work undertaken by the Probation Service will be central to delivering on this, and on a number of other actions, set out in the Review.”

Mark Wilson, Director of the Probation Service commented, “2021 was a year of challenges and important changes for the Probation Service as we witnessed a sustained increase in referrals when normal operations resumed post-pandemic. We advanced our commitment to modernising our Service by embracing technology and investing in high-quality research to inform our practice. I would like to thank colleagues across the Service for their dedication and commitment throughout the year.”


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