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 European Rules on Detention Houses (ERDH) is a milestone document for the criminal justice system and reflects the larger impact of this system on society. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of Europe, the ERDH were launched on October 31st as common standards to implement small-scale, differentiated and community-integrated detention houses in the European Union, as part of a pivotal change already happening in criminal justice systems across Europe. The ERDH set out the ecosystem of a detention house on its own and as part of, and within a community and society, emphasizing sustainability. As the European Prison Rules have been common standards for large-scale prison institutions, the European Rules on Detention Houses shall form essential standards for detention houses, in order to guarantee a way of liberty deprivation that is humane and more fit for the 21st century.
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 have explored what relational security looks like in practice; in which conditions it works best; and which set of competencies professionals must have.
To develop a shared perspective on working in detention houses, we therefore invited penitentiary training academies in Europe to share their training material for staff who will work in a small-scale forms of detention. Combining this with our findings, those of scientific research and practical knowledge from examples of good practices in Europe, we have created European Guidelines on Relational Security so that (new) staff members can be trained on working in small scale forms of detention.