The impact of Covid-19 on the mental health of offenders and staff and the enhanced use of new technologies lead the agenda of the annual conference of Directors of Prison and Probation Services of Council of Europe member states, taking place in Funchal on the island of Madeira (Portugal) on 20 and 21 September. Co-organised by the Portuguese Prison and Probation Services under the theme “Gaining an Edge over the Pandemic”, the conference is analysing ways the pandemic affected the mental health of offenders and staff and what lessons can be learned from this, including the treatment of offenders with mental health disabilities and disorders.
The conference is also examining the ethical and organisational aspects of the enhanced use of new technologies, including artificial intelligence, in prisons and by probation services, which rapidly expanded during the pandemic. Covid-19 related statistical data in prisons collected during the past months will also be discussed. The participants will consider the management of persons accused or convicted of a sexual offence, a topic on which the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers is currently preparing a set of recommendations to guide national authorities in their legislation, policies and practice.
Francisca Van Dunem, Minister of Justice of Portugal; Ambassador Christian Meuwly, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the Council of Europe and Chair of the Committee of Ministers Rapporteur Group on Legal Cooperation; Jan Kleijssen, Director of Information Society and Action against Crime of the Council of Europe; Jorge Carvalho, Secretary for Education, Science and Technology of the Regional Government of Madeira; and Irineu Barreto, Representative of the Republic for the Autonomous Region of Madeira, will open the conference. Alan Mitchell, President of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), will deliver the keynote speech.