Minister of State Naughton publishes the Probation Service Annual Report 2020 and Strategy Statement 2021-2023 at online launch event


29 July 2021


Minister for State at the Department of Justice, Hildegarde Naughton TD, today welcomed the publication of the Probation Service Annual Report 2020 and Strategy Statement 2021-2023: ‘Probation Works for Community Safety’. The Annual Report provides a detailed overview of key developments, performance and general statistics on the work of the Service.


Throughout 2020, the Probation Service responded effectively to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by maintaining an essential nationwide service focused on the rehabilitation and supervision of offenders. In launching the Report, the Minister said,


“The Probation Service provide a vital service within the Criminal Justice System and I am pleased to say that the Service continued to operate at high capacity throughout the context of the pandemic, working with more than 15,500 offenders in the community and 2,700 prisoners in custody. It completed 9,300 Probation Assessment Reports as well as in excess of 2,100 Community Service Assessment Reports for courts nationwide. In addition, as part of its COVID-19 response, the Service prioritised more than 1,000 higher risk clients who were identified for additional attention, support and intervention during the pandemic”.


The Annual Report also sets out the range of targeted interventions and programmes, which enabled the Service to remain effective and responsive to new and emerging needs. Inter-agency cooperation was a dominant theme within the report and demonstrated the Service’s commitment to engaging in meaningful collaboration to achieve better outcomes for Criminal Justice as a whole. The Minister went on to say,


“I am pleased that the Service continued to strengthen multi-agency partnerships throughout 2020 by delivering on key commitments under the ‘Action Plan for the Joint Management of Offenders 2019-2021’. This includes close collaboration with my Department, the Irish Prisons Service and An Garda Síochána across a variety of important areas, such as Sex Offender Risk Assessment & Management, the Joint Agency Response to Crime (JARC), community return and domestic violence, among many others”.


The Minister commended the achievements of the Service and thanked staff for their continued dedication and commitment to public safety and the administration of Justice.


During the same event, Minister Naughton also launched the Probation Service’s new Strategy Statement 2021-2023: Probation Works for Community Safety which outlines the strategic vision for the Probation Service over the period up to and including 2023. It was developed following an extensive consultation process involving staff, service users, the public and a wide range of stakeholders. The process commenced in November 2020 and ran for a period of four months. Covid-19 changed the usual means of communicating with stakeholders and the Service adapted by using innovative methods, such as social media platforms and on-line surveys to seek input.


The strategy centres on five areas of strategic priority which include:


  1. Enhancing Community Safety
  2. Strengthening Collaboration and Engagement
  3. Promoting Inclusion
  4. Empowering Our Team
  5. Modernising Our Approach


Launching the Strategy Statement, the Minister said,


This is a comprehensive strategy that will support the continued growth and professionalisation of the Probation Service. I welcome the strategy’s particular focus on enhancing community safety by advancing the Service’s approach to implementing effective and high quality supervision of individuals subject to community sanctions. This is a cornerstone of the work of the Service and is critical to reducing the level of crime and victimisation. My Department is committed to continuing to drive innovation in this area and to supporting new approaches to reduce recidivism rates nationally”.


The Minister also welcomed the publication of a detailed Action Plan which was also released today, which includes more than 100 associated actions which will be prioritised as part of the implementation of the statement. The Plan will be used to inform the work of the Service and to measure outcomes, track performance and ensure the delivery of key strategy objectives.


Also speaking at the launch, Director of the Probation Service, Mr Mark Wilson, added,


I wish to thank Minister Naughton for officially launching both reports today. The Annual Report 2020 outlines the extensive work of the Service during a period of immense challenge as a result of the global health emergency. While it was certainly testing year, the report demonstrates our commitment as an organisation to finding solutions and employing creativity to overcome obstacles so that we could continue to play our vital role in working to rehabilitate offenders and to making our communities safer.


“We are also delighted to unveil our new Strategy Statement 2021-23 which charts the strategic direction for the Probation Service over the next three years. It builds on the strong foundations which have been laid in developing effective probation practice in Ireland over recent years and seeks to drive new ambitions around quality supervised community sanctions, collaboration, staff development, diversity & inclusion and modernising our organisation.


“I am confident that this strategy will future-proof the Probation Service and drive positive transformation that will help us realise our vision of ‘safer and more inclusive communities where offending, and its causes, are effectively addressed”.




The Probation Service’s Annual Report 2020, Strategy Statement 2021-2023 and associated Action Plan are available to view and download by clicking the appropriate link below: