Designing the future European Prison Officer professional training curricula Silvia Bernardo April 1, 2022

Designing the future European Prison Officer professional training curricula

Thirty prison officers, prison wardens, prison officers’ trainers and other prison staff from four countries gathered to contribute to designing an innovative training programme. The initiative seeks to promote qualification standards across Europe, also focusing on digital skills.

The training and education of prison officers across Europe are far from standardised. Parameters such as the type of training, length, or certification level, differ from country to country. These divergencies directly impact professional career development and mobility. They also affect the development and implementation of European-wide policies in the prison sector in the long term.

PO21 project – European Prison Officers for the 21st Century – is developing a transnational curricular programme for initial training to use regardless of borders within the EU. The training will include core modules common to all jurisdictions and accommodate countries’ necessary specifications in independent modules.

The needs of the prison officers are at the core of PO21

The design of this innovative training curriculum is entirely based on an in-depth analysis of the prison officer role across Europe.

As a project partner, Innovative Prison Systems (IPS) developed an initial draft of the programme, considering all the data collected by the project partners and the inputs of the Advisory Board Meetings. The training programme is now fine-tuned with specialists and the prison officers themselves.


This first Correctional Officers Professional Training Design Workshop, held in Lisbon, included participants from Romania, Belgium, Germany, and Portugal. The event organized by IPS took place at the Portuguese National Trade Union of the Prison Guard Corps’ headquarters from March 28th to April 1st, 2022.

The heterogeneous prison officer’s profile and responsibilities initially drafted in the workshop reflected the differences in the role across countries. Participants then refined the profile into a more general definition encompassing all European countries.

With this framework and the project’s research results in mind, the involved professionals contributed to the structuring and adjusting of the modules that IPS has developed and presented.

The activity’s challenging and fruitful discussions helped shape the first steps in defining the programme’s content, teaching, learning, and assessment strategies.

This event was part of a series of workshops that will provide feedback and inform the training programme in progress. The second workshop is scheduled for May 2022 in Ghent, Belgium. Others are set to happen afterwards in Germany and Romania.

The ‘European Prison Officers for the 21st Century’ (PO21) is led by BSAFE LAB – Law Enforcement, Justice and Public Safety Research and Technology Transfer Lab, Beira Interior University (Portugal) in partnership with IPS_Innovative Prison Systems (Portugal), the 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 the Stichting Foundation ICPA Office in Europe (The Netherlands).

For further information about this project, please visit the PO21 website.