More than 20,000 higher education professionals are working with mandated clients in the Netherlands. These include people such as probation officers, group leaders in Youth Custody Institutions or forensic psychiatric institutions, case managers in penal institutions or professionals in youth protection or forensic addiction care. These forensic social professionals are responsible for advising and supervising children or adults who pose a danger to others or to themselves. The goal is to provide these people with the best possible guidance or treatment so as to reduce the risk of relapse. In doing so, they are committed to the effort of creating a safe and livable society. Their work requires a high standard of professionalism, effective methods, specific skills and targeted training.
Research into professionalism and continuity
The research group conducts research with, in and for professional practitioners and focuses on two lines of research. The first research line relates to professionalism in the penal system: how can professionals contribute to the desired changes in clients and to enhanced security through their approach and behaviour? The second line of research focuses on continuity: what can we do to improve consistency between the different forms of intervention? Within these lines of research, a number of studies are taking place, some of which will lead to PhD research.
Developing the programme content
In addition to its research work, the group also focuses on developing teaching activities at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels. Until recently, penal methodology had received very little attention. This meant that newcomers to the sector were ill-prepared for their work. The research group therefore helps to prepare these professionals in various ways. This is often done in collaboration with other universities of applied sciences and institutions in the field.
This research group is sponsored by the Netherlands Probation Service, the Addiction Rehabilitation Foundation GGz, the Salvation Army Youth Care and Rehabilitation.