Two main goals of the WISH EU project are, first, to centralize and disseminate the knowledge that already exists and, second, to create new knowledge through exchanges between practitioners, policymakers, researchers and people with lived experience in different European countries. These exchanges will be stimulated by the creation of Knowledge Workspaces.
A Knowledge Workspace is a sustainable and locally embedded network that brings together researchers, policymakers, practitioners and other relevant stakeholders with the aim to co-create, disseminate and evaluate knowledge and to exchange best practices and expertise that is already available in the participating countries and beyond. Such Knowledge Workspace is based on the following principles: future focused, inclusive multidisciplinary, collaboration, added value, connecting the dots and an eye for the public.
The Knowledge Workspaces that are established in the context of this project will focus on (1) the Ecosystem of Small-scale Detention Facilities and on (2) Relational Security. There are three national Knowledge Workspaces (in Belgium, France and the Netherlands) and one European think-tank with key stakeholders.
02. EUROPEAN RULES ON THE ECOSYSTEM OF SMALL-SCALE DETENTION FACILITIES
It starts with a healthy ecosystem. Different elements of an ecosystem reinforce each other when they interact to form an effective system. The reverse can also happen: a disruptive factor can throw the ecosystem out of balance. A detention context can be viewed in the same way. The different elements of that context can reinforce each other into a safe and constructive context.
When considering the ecosystem of detention houses, we look at detention from a holistic perspective, including the architecture, the social climate, security, community-integration, sustainability, work, individual needs, staff well-being and the use of technology. Indeed, the design of small-scale detention facilities is not just about architecture. It also includes the social design, which means building a positive climate for all people who work, live in or close to the building.
The knowledge about the ecosystem of small-scale detention facilities will be collected by visiting such facilities in Europe, through learning sessions with experts at national and European level and through the exchanges in the Knowledge Workspaces. The more perspectives involved in developing these guidelines and rules, the more relevant they will be for all stakeholders. Special attention is therefore given to the balanced composition of these networks in terms of social and cultural backgrounds, genders, disciplines, and age, and to an equal voice for each participant.
The goal is to anchor this knowledge in policy frameworks, and more specifically in European Rules on the Ecosystem of Small-Scale Detention Facilities.
03. EUROPEAN GUIDELINES ON RELATIONAL SECURITY
In order to perform optimally, staff members need to apply particular working methods and skills when working in a small-scale and community- integrated setting. For instance, security will result from the quality of the relationships rather than from static security measures. In this context, we will explore what relational security looks like in practice; in which conditions it works best; and which set of competencies professionals must have. Based on this knowledge, we will create guidelines on relational security so that (new) staff members can be trained on working in small scale detention facilities.
We use the concept ‘relational security’ instead of the more commonly used concept ‘dynamic security’ to stress that this is about the quality of interpersonal relationships. Whereas dynamic security tends to be intertwined with the philosophy and design of prisons and to go hand-in-hand with traditional forms of (static) security, the goal of relational security is to create relationships that are so solid that other forms of security become redundant. Many lessons and knowledge about relational security come from the field of forensic care.
04. A HOUSE IS A HOUSE: AN INTERACTIVE MAP
In order to have impact on policy and in practice, it is key that all this knowledge reaches the key stakeholders, including professionals working in small-scale facilities and policymakers implementing such facilities. Prison Insider, WISH-EU consortium partner, has developed an interactive map that visualizes a database of small-scale detention facilities across Europe. Made available at