The government passed a comprehensive draft amendment on Tuesday to reform the probation system. The law stipulates, among other things, strengthening the legal protection of probation officers, granting special allowances, introducing a new grade of professional probation officers and amending the rules for appointing a disciplinary spokesperson.
The community of probation officers has been waiting for the change for many years – it involves the reform of the provisions introduced more than 20 years ago. The draft prepared by the Ministry of Justice was released late last year and submitted for public consultation.
As stated by the authors of the project, the main objectives of the proposed changes are to improve the functioning and organization of probation officers of the courts and to improve the quality and efficiency of probation officers’ work.
The proposed provisions provide for the possibility for a probation officer to be reimbursed for the costs of legal aid in criminal proceedings in which he participated as an injured party or assistant public prosecutor. Such costs are also reimbursed to the social probation officer, who can request them from the court. However, the reimbursement of the costs of legal representation does not accrue to a probation officer who participates in criminal proceedings as an assistant public prosecutor, to whom the court has allocated the costs related to the appointment of a lawyer.
The concept also introduces a solution that allows probation officers to receive the necessary psychological help. Under the proposal, the employer, ie the court, will provide this assistance to the professional probation officer at his request or with his consent.
According to the draft, a person who has only Polish nationality and has a master’s degree in psychology, pedagogy, sociology or law, or has studies in at least one of the mentioned fields, can become a probation officer. As justified by the Department of Justice, the changes are also intended to ensure employment of a person who meets all legal requirements and has passed the probation exam. Therefore, the president of the regional court will be required to submit a job proposal to the probation officer immediately after passing the exam.
The project also introduces an honorary title – a certified specialist curator. It will be available to a probation officer with at least 20 years, including at least 5 years as a specialist probation officer and significant professional achievement. As indicated in the justification for changes, it is not a new step in the path of professional advancement, but above all an ultra factual award for special merits.
The proposed provisions also address the issue of functional surcharges. The project provides for the introduction of allowances related to teaching in the probation center in the form of a monthly lump sum. The lump sum amount for a professional probation officer who is the head of the probation center is 110 percent. of the basic amount, while for professional and social probation workers who teach in a probation center, this lump sum is 80%. base number.
According to the draft, a professional probation officer can also be granted a special allowance of a maximum of 40% for a certain period. basic salary. At the same time, this allowance is not granted to probation officers who perform work in the field of a court. Currently, the special allowance is a percentage of the base salary plus the amount of the functional allowance due, while the draft scheme assumes that it will only be charged as a percentage of the amount of the base salary. As the ministry argues, the current solution needs to be changed, as it clearly favors “officials” and thereby discriminates against other probation professionals.
The Ministry of Justice’s proposal also changes the disciplinary procedures of professional probation officers. The concept extends the disciplinary responsibility of a probation officer to the premise of non-compliance with professional ethics and excludes the possibility of imposing a disciplinary penalty. The catalog of penalties also includes a new type of penalty – a warning, and the penalty of reprimand with a warning has been removed from it.
The changes also apply to the manner of appointment of the Disciplinary Spokesperson for Probation Officers, who is currently elected from among its members by the District Assembly of Probation Officers. Under the bill, the ombudsman is appointed by the president of the regional court.
The change must take effect 14 days after its announcement.