The Defence Matters Directorate was set up to consolidate and develop the defence function of the OPM, which has been in existence almost continuously since 1964. The Directorate now forms part of the Ministry for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality.
The main responsibilities of the Directorate are:
- to provide objective technical and policy advice as well as timely analysis on all aspects of military matters affecting the Government’s defence policy;
- to monitor and analyse the implementation of Cabinet decisions and Government policies on defence matters and to report on the extent to which policy and performance targets are met;
- to develop new policy initiatives and concepts on all AFM matters with a view to improving the operational, logistic and administrative effectiveness of the AFM;
- in liaison with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to manage bilateral as well as multilateral defence relations with other countries and international organisations.
The Department of Probation and Parole aims at enhancing community safety by reducing recidivism through the implementation of Restorative Justice measures and the use of Community-Based Sanctions.
‘To help ensure social stability by contributing to minimise the frequency of crime for more public protection and by ensuring the re-integration of offenders. To ensure that the services offered address the needs of the Criminal Justice System in line with principles of Restorative Justice.’
The Probation of Offenders Act was established in 1957 whilst the first Probation Order was issued in August 1961.
Since then, the ‘Ċentru Ħidma Soċjali’ was established and its Director was appointed Principal Probation Officer. Moreover, certain Family Welfare Officers were selected to carry out the duties of Probation Officers. The need for re-structuring Probation Services in Malta had been felt for decades, however few concrete steps have been taken to overcome the problem.
In 1993 the University of Malta, after receiving proposals from the Judiciary and the Government of Malta, organised a Post-Qualification Diploma to train individuals as Probation Officers. The first course yielded four qualified Probation Officers.
In 1994 the Probation Services Action Team (PSAT), a non-governmental organisation, was set up. This was perhaps the first in a series of measures intended to address the lack of trained specialised resources in the field of Probation. PSAT aimed at serving as the cornerstone of the future Probation Services, which was set up within the Department of Correctional Services. In fact, it was in 1996 that a group of qualified Probation Officers were engaged as Social Workers within this Department.
In 1998, another major step was taken with the insertion of a new structure for the Probation Services, within the government structure and once again was incorporated within the Department of Correctional Services. The structure includes the grades of a Principal Probation Officer, Senior Probation Officers, Probation Officers and Trainee Probation Officers.
In 2002, the Probation of Offenders Act was revised and renamed Probation Act. This newly enacted Act marked the introduction of sanctions such as the Community Service Order and the Combination Order, while at the Pre-Sentencing stage the Provisional Order of Supervision was included for the first time. The renewed aim of the Probation Services is the strengthening of probation services in our country while expanding the services offered. In 2012, the Probation Services Office detached itself from Corradino Correctional Facility becoming the Department of Probation & Parole with the introduction of Parole and other services permeating from the Restorative Justice Act, published in 2012 whereby the focus was on prisoners and victims.
After the schism, the DPP organized itself into different units, introducing the Psychology Unit and the Victims Unit. Similarly, to facilitate the work of the DPP, an Administration Unit was set up. In November 2015, the DPP relocated itself to Millennia Building, Marsa, giving greater work space for the increasing staff. Adding to this I 2015, the Department extended its services by opening a new office in Gozo in to cater for Gozitan clients.
With regards to foreign networking, the DPP also forms part of the Confederation of European Probation (an entity that promotes community-based sanction on a European level).
Beneficiaries and Impact
The Department of Probation & Parole is a key component of the Criminal Justice System and works in collaboration with the Judiciary, Police, various Agencies and Government Departments, amongst others. It promotes rehabilitation (through a balance between care and control) while clients keep living stable through employment and as a contributing member of society. Probation and Parole Services reduces over-crowding in prison and are considered to be a more cost-effective alternative. Finally, community-based sanctions leave the offenders’ slate clean, thus supporting them on keeping or finding new employment.
Selection of beneficiaries for the service is not dependent on the Department. It is the Law Courts or the Parole Board which have the discretion to decide who benefits from the services offered by the Department. The DPP addresses the needs of Adult and Juvenile Offenders (14 years or older). Many of the orders entail that the Supervising Officer, who is a Probation/Parole Officer, reports to the Courts or the Parole Board accordingly with the client’s progress.
The DPP database reveals that offenders meet the Probation Services for various offences. These offences include drug possession; person offences, such as physical assault and domestic violence; sexual offences, such as prostitution and corruption of minors; property offences, including illegal entry, auto theft and the defilement of public and private property; falsification of documents, money laundering and forgery; and internet crime. The DPP caters for both male and females, but to date the highest proportion of offenders receiving our services have been male. Through the course of interaction with the offender, the Probation Officer may also meet the families, employers and immediate peer-groups of the offenders whilst also conducting home and/or field visits.
The services offered by the Probation Services include:
At the Pre-Sentencing Stage
- Pre-Sentence Report (PSR)
The Probation Officer prepares this report which is required by the Court after guilt is established and before the Court makes its decision. This report contains extensive information about the offender’s background and present situation, as well as recommendation to the Courts regarding the appropriate and most-beneficial sentence or community-based sanction that fits the crime committed.
- Social Inquiry Report
The Probation Officer compiles this report as requested by the Court at any phase during the criminal proceedings before guilt is established. This report is similar in content to the PSR but does not include any recommendations to the court with regards to sentencing.
- Verbal Report
The Probation Officer compiles this report as requested by the Court at any phase during the criminal proceedings. This report is usually requested when the Magistrate/Judge is considering community work (later explained). The emphasis of this report is to evaluate the suitability of the offender to be assigned with community work. Therefore, various factors of importance are the employment, skills, health and medical conditions among others.
- Provisional Supervision Order
The Court may issue a Provisional Order of Supervision of the accused to be supervised by a Probation Officer at any point during the criminal proceedings. The Probation Officer is required to report frequently to the Court regarding the offender’s progress through verbal or written reports.
At the Post-Sentencing Stage
- Probation Order
A Probation Order is issued by the Court for a minimum period of one year and a maximum of three years. It is a community-based sanction that allows the offender to remain in the community whilst receiving the necessary help and rehabilitation. The aim is to protect the society from harm and preventing further recidivism.
- Community Service Order (CSO)
The offender is required to perform between 40 and 480 hours of work without pay. The main aim is for the offender to make up for the harm s/he has inflicted upon society in general. The offender is expected to carry out the number of hours as stipulated by the Court in his/her free time and care is taken in order that such work does not replace paid work. Usually the offenders are placed in NGO’s, Voluntary Organisations and Local Councils.
- Combination Order
This order combines the Probation Order and the Community Service Order. The Probation element may be of one to three years duration whilst the Community Service element varies between 40 to 100 hours.
- Suspended Sentence Supervision Order
This is a prison sentence which is suspended for a minimum of two years and a maximum of four years. According to the Criminal Code 28G, the Court may issue a Supervision Order applicable to this period. The Probation Officer supervising a Suspended Sentence focuses more on the element of control.
- Treatment Order
In view of Article 412D of the Criminal Code, the Court may issue a Treatment Order to ensure that the offender receives the treatment required. Treatment Order is the only order that can be issued both during the pre- and post- sentencing stages. The duration of the order can be from one year to a maximum of five years. During this period, the supervising officer may refer the client to specialized entities that caters for the treatment needed while verifying that the client is following the treatment.
- Parole Pre-Release Report
Following an application filed by a prisoner, a report is compiled by the Parole Officer indicating the offender’s level of risk of harm to others, to him/her, to him/herself and whether the inmate is prepared to re-enter society on Parole whilst serving the remaining prison sentence in the community. The report also includes extensive background information. The PPR, together with other reports, is then reviewed and assessed by the Offender Assessment Board and the Parole Board giving their final decision about the applicant.
- Parole License Supervision
If the prisoner is deemed suitable to serve the remaining prison sentence in the community, a Parole License is issued where s/he is monitored by a Parole Officer. The Parolee must also adhere to conditions given to him/her by the Parole Board; if s/he fails to observe the conditions, s/he will be remanded back to custody in order to serve the remainder of the full sentence without remission.
- Victims Report
This report is done as part of the Dossier compiled for the Offender Assessment Board and the Parole Board after a prisoner files an application for Parole. This is an opportunity for the victims to voice their opinion on the crime committed and put forward their suggestions with regards to any conditions should the inmate be granted a Parole License.
- Victim Offender Mediation
Victim-Offender Mediation is a process through which the offender and the victim have an opportunity to come together and discuss issues arising from the crime committed. The process is facilitated by a mediator, who is a neutral third party, and who acts in the interest, safety and well-being of all parties involved. The ultimate goal of the process is to help the parties resolve any conflict which would have risen through the criminal act, as well as assist them in reaching an agreement.
Pertinent to state that referrals for Victim-Offender Mediation are done either by the Courts of Justice, the Parole Board, the Remission Board or the Offender Assessment Board. Referrals are done to the Victim-Offender Mediation Committee, which assesses the suitability and eligibility of both the victim and the offender. If the case is eligible and suitable for mediation, the case is referred to a mediator. The outcome of the case is forwarded to the Victim-Offender Mediation Committee, for attestation. With the consent of both parties, the agreement is referred to the referral authority.
- Psychological Services
Complimenting and assisting the work of the Probation/Parole Officers with their clients. The Psychology Unit provides structured and manualised programs in the following aspects: Anger Management, Cognitive Skills and Sex Offending. The Psychologists also carry out assessments and 1 to 1 sessions.
- Reports by the Parole Unit to the Parole Board in terms of the Restorative Justice Act, indicating the offender’s level of risk of harm to others and to himself and whether the inmate is prepared to re-enter society on Parole and serve the remaining prison sentence in the community.
- Reports by the Victim Support Unit to the Parole Board on the victim’s perspective with respect to the application done by a prison inmate for Parole
- Parole Supervision by Parole Officers of Parolees
Requirements to become a Probation/Parole Officer or a Trainee Probation/Parole Officer:
For a person to become a Probation/Parole Officer or a Trainee Probation/Parole Officer, one must be in line with the following criteria:
- be a Maltese or EU citizen or citizen of any other country who are entitled to equal treatment to Maltese citizens or third country nationals who have been granted long-term resident status in Malta;
- be in possession of a certificate of good conduct;
- speak fluently both Maltese and English – the clientele of the DPP has varying education levels, thus it is important that the PO can communicate in both languages;
- be in possession of a Post-Graduate Diploma in Probation Services (however one can apply if s/he is not in possession of one, qualifying for a Trainee Probation Officer with the condition to complete the required Diploma within the stipulated time if chosen).
- Public Officers holding a grade in a particular stream and who were granted Officer in Scale status.
All the applications for the post of a probation officer are issued by the People and Standards Division (OPM) and regulated by the Public Service Commission. For more information one can visit the Public Services Commission website and related Public Service Commission Regulations.
Vacancies can be checked or accessed from the following link: https://recruitment.gov.mt/
The work of Probation/Parole Officers is regulated by the following legislation:
- Probation Act (Chapter 446) – https://legislation.mt/eli/cap/446/20180514/eng
The Probation Act in 2002 replaced the Probation of Offenders Act 1957. This 2002 Act caters for the new services offered by the Probation Services, namely the Community Service Order, the Combination Order and the Provisional Supervision Order while defining better the services included in the 1957 Act.
Restorative Justice Act (Chapter 516) – https://legislation.mt/eli/cap/516/20180514/eng
2011 marks the introduction of the Restorative Justice Act, by which the Parole and victims’ services had to be established. As a result, the Probation Services detached themselves from the Corradino Correctional Facility to become the Department of Probation and Parole. In 2013, the above-mentioned services commenced thus increasing the services offered.
Criminal Code (Chapter 9) – https://legislation.mt/eli/cap/9/20230228/eng
Articles 28G and 412D provide the legislation for Suspended Sentence with Supervision and Treatment Order respectively.
World Probation Day – 26 January
On this specific day, the Probation Services in Malta joins various countries in the celebration of World Probation Day. This occasion serves to create awareness of the valuable work done by the Probation Officers worldwide.
Probation work requires dedication and commitment from the Probation Officers for the benefit of the community. Through such a community sanction, the Court gives an opportunity to the offender to be rehabilitated within the community while at the same time become a law-abiding citizen.
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