Developing a clearer picture of the European prison officer Silvia Bernardo November 23, 2021

Developing a clearer picture of the European prison officer

PO21’s consortium identifies existing and emerging skills needs, with the goal of educating and training prison officers for the 21st-century sectoral challenges.

The profiles and needs of prison officers are varied, and differ from country to country. The project partner’s research, and the insight drawn from DACUM Workshops revealed more information about these professionals. Moreover, the EU Prison Officers’ Survey, carried out by the partnership, has also achieved results stressing these general insights.

The project developments so far outline a general picture of each country’s prison officers current profile, including their initial and continuous training, their future profile, that comprises proposed future training and specialisation relevant to their work, as well as their main challenges and pressing training needs.


Three countries, a multitude of profiles and needs

  • Portugal:
    • Current profile: Security; Surveillance; Monitoring of prisoners and visits; Health management of prisoners;
    • Main challenges: Ageing of prisoners; Organised crime; Information technologies;
    • Future profile: Information technology solutions; Security technology solutions; Management of the mental health of prisoners;
    • Training needs: Specialisation in the use of equipment and programs; Posture and emotional control; Conflict management.
  • Romania:
    • Current profile: Perimeter security, access points and patrols; Escorting inmates to courts;
    • Main challenges: Legal framework modification – increase the number of requests; New technologies used by POs and inmates; Digitisation;
    • Future profile: Surveillance of the inmate using electronic means; Escorting inmates;
    • Training needs: ICT courses; Communication; Foreign languages.
  • Germany:
    • Current profile: Handling/ treatment of prisoners; Self-care/resilience; Guaranteeing health, safety, and order;
    • Main challenges: Radicalisation; Inmates with mental disorders and “troublemakers”; Generation conflicts/education;
    • Future profile: Dealing with people who are in a process of radicalisation; Dealing with inmates who are having psychological or psychiatric issues;
    • Training needs: Guides and training courses on various phenomena within radicalisation; Modules on andragogical skills; Modules on the ageing prison population.


We can find common trends in these results, such as the new technological challenges and prisoner health and ageing themes. On the other hand, we can see which training topics require more attention, such as radicalisation prevention, as results from the DACUM workshop in Germany show.


What is the significance of this data for PO21?

PO21 – European Prison Officers for the 21st Century seeks to level the training across member states to facilitate the development and mobility of professionals and the implementation of Framework Decisions on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters.

That’s why these findings are key to designing training and knowledge sharing strategies to fill the gaps and divergences across Europe. Such detailed information on member state countries will shape the continued project intervention.

Project partners were able to discuss these preliminary conclusions in a meeting in Ghent and online on the 22nd of November 2021.  Furthermore, this was the moment to review the project status of implementation, progress, and next steps.

These included the discussion of the transnational vocational curricula and resources, which will seek to put into practice the project’s Recommendations Paper for re-thinking prisons officers’ training, innovative VET curricula and programmes and the development of learning resources.

po21 meeting

PO21’s meeting was held in an hybrid of presential and onlines formats

Still on this day, partners discussed the implementation of a transnational, multi-site training course piloting and finetuning; the dissemination and mainstreaming of the project, and its active monitoring and evaluation.

On the 23rd of November, partners continued to discuss the project tasks, namely the organisation of four short-term staff training events to be held in Lisbon, Brussels, Germany and Bucharest.

The PO21 project is promoted by BSAFE LAB – Law Enforcement, Justice and Public Safety Research and Technology Transfer Lab, Beira Interior University (Portugal) partnered with IPS_Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal), Bremen Senate of Justice and Constitution (Germany), the Directorate-General for Reintegration and Prison Services (DGRSP, Portugal), the Federal Public Service Justice (Belgium), the National Trade Union of Prison Workers (SNLP, Romania), the National Trade Union of the Prison Guard Corps (SNCGP, Portugal), EuroPris – European Organisation of Prisons and Correctional Services (The Netherlands), and Stichting Foundation ICPA Office in Europe (The Netherlands). The project is funded by Erasmus+ and KA2 – Cooperation and Innovation for Good Practices.

For further information about the Eu-funded project PO21, please visit the official website.