Probation Board wins European Accolade for Enhanced Combination Order
The Probation Board for Northern Ireland’s Enhanced Combination Order (ECO) Project has won a prestigious award for its outstanding contribution to rehabilitation in a European wide competition. The Award in the Rehabilitation in the Community category was presented to PBNI representatives at the CEP (Confederation of European Probation) General Assembly official dinner on Thursday 23rd October 2019 in Dublin.
The CEP Award recognises the lead role of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland in the reduction of re-offending by tackling the root causes of offending and rehabilitating people.
Probation's Enhanced Combination Order aims to divert people who have offended from short-term custodial sentences of 12 months or less by offering Sentencers an intensive community sentence with a focus on rehabilitation, reparation, restorative practice and desistance. The Order was developed by PBNI in response to the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan QC in 2015. To date 444 people have received an Enhanced Combination Order. ECO has now been independently evaluated on three occasions since it started. The 2019 evaluation conducted by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency highlighted the effectiveness of the Order and positive outcomes for individuals, families and communities.
The number of custodial sentences of 12 months or less, awarded by courts involved in the ECO pilot, decreased by 20.7% between 2015 and 2017. Nine in ten service users agreed that the programme had helped them address their offending behaviour and they were unlikely to commit a further similar offence.
The Probation Board works closely with partners including the PSNI, the Courts, Barnardos, NIACRO and Community Restorative organisations to deliver the Enhanced Combination Order.
Chief Executive of Probation Cheryl Lamont: “What makes this Order different is that it is an intensive community sentence which requires individuals to complete unpaid work, participate in victim focused work, undergo assessment and participate in programmes. An important element of this Order is the fact that every person is offered a psychological assessment. Given the high numbers of offenders presenting with mental health and addictions issues this is a key part of the sentence.
She continued: “I am delighted that probation in NI has been recognised at a European level and that the work of the Probation Board has been acknowledged by the President of CEP. This Order is effective in rehabilitating people and preventing further victims of crime. It has been proven to tackle difficult issues like poor mental health and addictions and facilitate change. Probation in NI is changing lives and helping make communities safer through the use of innovative projects like the Enhanced Combination Order.”
Anthony Harbinson, Director of Access to Justice, DoJ: “The Department of Justice is delighted to see PBNI win this prestigious award for the outstanding work they have done on this problem solving initiative. Their work is always of the highest quality and they are a key partner in our mission to make Northern Ireland a safe place where we respect the law and each other.”
The Probation Board for Northern Ireland is a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) of the Department of Justice.