Social Aspects of Justice: “How we look after the people in our care”

On 6 December 2023, the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels, together with the Department of Justice, Northern Ireland Prison Service and Probation Board for Northern Ireland hosted the third and final event in the series of three, exploring the social aspects of justice in Northern Ireland.

Attendees heard insightful presentations from the panellists on the subject of ‘How we look after the people in our care’. Mark Goodfellow, Director of Safer Communities in the Department of Justice, opened the event and provided the audience with a strategic overview of work underway across the Department of Justice and with operational partners to look after those in custodial care, support measures to promote their rehabilitation, and to help reduce some of the most serious harms from criminality to Northern Ireland society.

The second intervention was from Maria Watson, Deputy Director of Rehabilitation in the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS), who has responsibility for the rehabilitation of the population across prison establishments in Northern Ireland. The presentation focused on ‘How we look after those held in our care and how we challenge them to change’. Maria also explored the delivery of rehabilitation in partnership with statutory and voluntary/community sector colleagues, with a clear emphasis on the journey continuing from point of entry to beyond release from custody.

The final presentation was from Melissa Spence, Assistant Director for the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) who has responsibility for the operational service delivery of PBNI within prison establishments in Northern Ireland. Melissa highlighted the operational service delivery model in custody for those assessed as high likelihood of re-offending and/or significant risk of serious harm, how resettlement needs are met to reduce re-offending and how this is achieved through the lens of both clients and victims.

The presentations were followed by an engaging Q+A session with the highly knowledgeable audience who asked a number of topical and considered questions. The event was concluded with a networking reception where the conversations surrounding social aspects of justice continued. We look forward to working with our Department of Justice colleagues again in the near future, bringing more NI justice related events to Brussels.