After two years of attending and presenting at virtual conferences, I was fortunate enough to attend not one but two international conferences.
First up was the Society for Police and Criminal Psychology (SPCP) conference in Quebec City. The society encourages the application of scientific knowledge to problems in criminal justice. Research is crucial to implementing evidence-based improvements so it was fascinating to learn about new and developing research and its implications for practice particularly from an international perspective. I’m familiar with how research feeds through into the work of many agencies in criminal justice such as the work of the RMA having been responsible for taking learning from research and applying it to practice however it was interesting to hear about the impact of research on the practice of other services and agencies.
One presentation explored how resiliency appears to decrease over length of service in law enforcement and how this impacts wellbeing. As a result of this, New Jersey policing have developed a resiliency program and every officer will receive training alongside other measures. This is designed to better support the emotional and psychological wellbeing of those in law enforcement, and in turn, help officers to better protect the public.
After a few days in Quebec, I travelled to Ottawa for the 5th World Congress on Probation and Parole where I attended a workshop delivered by Jim Bonta, Guy Bourgon and Bill Small. They spoke about Risk, Needs and Responsivity alongside the development and implementation of the Strategic Training Imitative in Community Supervision (STICS). Over the years I’ve heard a lot about Jim and Guy alongside reading their work so it was great to meet them in person. We are currently undertaking a project which involves reviewing the evidence on various approaches in risk management. After discussing this work with Jim and Guy, I sent over a draft entry we had developed on STICS to get their thoughts. Building relationships like this can absolutely be done virtually but there is no denying that it feels more personable to have a chat, in person, over a cup of coffee.
Building relationships like this can absolutely be done virtually but there is no denying that it feels more personable to have a chat, in person, over a cup of coffee.
Again, it was really interesting to learn more at this conference about what justice partners are doing internationally to confront challenges or improve practice. In Japan, the system of Volunteer Probation Officers (VPO) otherwise known as ‘hogoshi’ is proving to be impactful in the prevention of reoffending and promotion of reintegration. There are now approximately 50,000 VPO’s with an average age of 65! This community rallying round the justice system supports the work of professional probation officers, and underlines the significance of community volunteers and engagement in community-based justice work.
Over the two conferences there was a lot of discussion about the challenges currently faced within criminal justice – lack of funding, burn out, short staffing and so on. However, it was great to take time to reflect on how practice is continually adapting and improving, even if it feels slow at times. Similarly, it was great to have the space to reflect on all the work, effort and energy that individuals exert working with the field of criminal justice amidst the many challenges.
The conferences highlighted just how much we can learn from each other, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting academics and practitioners from all around the world.
The conferences highlighted just how much we can learn from each other, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting academics and practitioners from all around the world. My role is varied, spanning from leading on development functions such as leading on the pilot of a new internet offending assessment framework through to research and training. Therefore having the opportunity to learn from researchers but also practitioners was the perfect blend of the theoretical and practical.
Aside from the conferences, it was lovely to see Canada in the autumn especially as someone who enjoys photography. Apparently, autumn in Canada is known as ‘leaf peeping’ season where people travel to view the leaves changing as they turn to fiery shades of red, orange and yellow – thankfully the timing of the conferences worked out well for me to enjoy the autumnal views. Autumn is still peak grizzly season but luckily all I had to contend with was the slightly cold weather and jet lag – very much worth it.
Browse through some of Rachel’s photography below…