Programmes and Interventions

Programme and Interventions Overview

The Probation Board for Northern Ireland has delivered offending behaviour interventions since the early 1990’s and continue to develop interventions that deliver best practice to challenge offending behaviour & reduce offending. The interventions are aimed at managing behaviour, reducing the numbers of victims and to contribute to public protection. Each intervention teaches new methods of self-management based on current research & evaluation which adhere to both national and international best practice.

Probation has a number of accredited interventions which involves rigorous assessment by a panel of independent international experts (academics and practitioners) in their relevant specialist field.

Interventions follow the most established models of change, namely those concerning Risk, Need and Responsivity. All interventions are designed to be responsive to groups and each individual participant’s needs. Following these principles is key to the delivery of high quality, effective programmes that reduce re-offending.

Interventions delivered within Probation take many forms. They are delivered in both one to one and group work settings. Programmes are designed to address aspects of an individual’s personality, attitudes and behaviours that are linked to offending behaviours. These factors not only contribute to offending, but are often the underlying reasons for difficulties in many other areas of their lives. The interventions give the individual the opportunity to make positive changes and ultimately reduce the likelihood of reoffending.

Offender Behaviour Programmes

PBNI currently deliver a range of accredited and approved interventions including –

Domestic Abuse 

The suite of interventions for domestic abuse with a Domestic Abuse Programme Pathway for:

  • Building Better Relationships (BBR) is an accredited group work Programme designed to reduce reoffending by adult males convicted of violence against an intimate partner. The Programme has a strong theoretical base, taking into account recent developments in thinking and research in relation to aggression within relationships.
  • The Respectful Relationships Intervention (RRI) aims to develop educational awareness about what constitutes healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships. It includes the personal identification of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and physiology and the impact of abusive behaviour on victims including children.

Sexual Offending

The suite of interventions for sexual offending with a Sexual Offence Programme Pathway for:

  • Horizon is a Programme designed and accredited by HMPPS, which provides an evidence-informed response to men in prison or on community sentences who have been convicted of a sexual offence. It aims to equip service users’ with skills to build constructive lives that will not involve further offending.
  • iHorizon seeks to address the needs and deficits to target those areas identified as established risk factors and incorporate a bio/psycho/social model of change and is grounded in the Risk Need Responsivity, Good Lives Model and Desistance Theories. iHorizon addresses Internet only offending. This refers solely to; possessing, downloading and/or distributing indecent images of children.
  • The Safer Lives approach has been developed to provide a structured, clinically approved process for PBNI staff to undertake assessment and interventions for service users who have been convicted of a sexual offence when aged 21 or under. The approach directs a comprehensive, holistic assessment and individualised intervention plan is developed that addresses the deficits which led to their sexual offending.
  • Maps for Change (M4C) is a toolkit of exercises which practitioners can use to structure their supervision with adult men who have committed a sexual offence and are assessed as low risk of reconviction. The term ‘Maps’ was used to signify a journey, in this case towards positive change, with the exercises being symbolised as ‘signposts’ which assist the individual in reaching their objective, i.e. by building skills, knowledge and awareness.

Anger and Violence

The suite of interventions for violent offending with a Violent Offence Programme Pathway for:

  • The Anger Management Intervention aims to increase the service users understanding of their own thoughts feelings and behaviours specifically linked to anger. It aims to encourage the service user to identify their triggers and develop skills to manage this in a more pro social manner.
  • Thinking Skills is based on a cognitive behavioural therapy approach and is a group-work programme designed to encourage service users to manage their thinking around offending behaviour and to manage their risk factors in a more pro social manner.

Substance Misuse

The Substance Misuse Brief Intervention aims to explore the individual’s motivation to change their alcohol &/or substance misuse and whilst increasing insight into their barriers to change. Furthermore, this intervention aims to help the individual identify the effects of their alcohol/substance misuse; help develop a better understanding of the function of their alcohol/substance misuse and connections with offending behaviour. It aims to increase the individual’s understanding of the short and long term physical and mental health effects of using alcohol/substances, to help the individual identify and manage their own triggers for alcohol/substance use and to help the service user to develop steps to move forward.

Victim Awareness

The aim of the Victim Awareness intervention is to assist the service user in considering their behaviour at the time of the offence and to explore how the crime they have committed may have affected others. It aims to encourage the service user to take responsibility for any harm, which they may have caused; to be given the opportunity to share a ‘reflective letter’ with the Victim Information Unit and to demonstrate positive change in their life.

Additional Interventions

It is important to note that Horizon/iHorizon, Thinking Skills and Building Better Relationships (BBR) Programmes cannot be delivered as a Brief Intervention on a one to one basis. Therefore, in order to address the commonly identified needs of service users, PBNI’s Psychology and Programmes department have developed a range of brief interventions, which can be availed of during the supervision period. Such interventions aim to develop the service users understanding of their offending behaviour and develop skills, which will help them to engage in the community in a more prosocial manner.
These interventions include the following:

  • Coping Skills Brief Intervention
  • Goal Setting Brief Intervention
  • Problem Solving Brief Intervention

One to One Interventions

A range of 1:1 interventions have been developed to target the specific needs for individuals who are deemed appropriate for group work.

This range of 1:1 interventions have been designed by both Psychology and Programme staff to respond to these client needs and to assist Probation Officers in their supervision and management of clients. These include Victim Awareness, Hate crime-Accepting Differences, Safer Lives, Respectful Relationships Intervention, Alcohol Brief Intervention, Substance Misuse, Anger Management, Problem Solving, and Motivational Enhancement.

Accepting Differences: The Diversity and Awareness Pack Within a Northern Ireland Context 

Hate Crime legislation came in to effect in Northern Ireland in September 2004 with the Criminal Justice No.2 (NI) Order. Since then, sentencing is required to take into account when an offence is prompted or aggravated by the victim’s religion, race, sexual orientation or a disability.  As such, all statutory agencies must comply with action to develop an intervention to address Hate Crime.

Probation recognises that hate crime is a serious problem which has a devastating impact on victims and their families.  The Hate Crime Policy and supporting procedures are intended to provide staff with clear guidance in dealing with both the perpetrators of such offences, as well as victims and potential victims. Probation recognises that we are working in an increasingly diverse society and that understanding, valuing and respecting different cultures is essential to the delivery of effective and responsive interventions.

Probation is committed to dealing effectively with hate crime through purposeful assessment at the pre-sentence stage, as well as facilitating evidence-based intervention during supervision. To this end, Probation launched the Accepting Differences Toolkit. With permission, the Accepting Differences Toolkit was adapted from the Diversity Awareness and Prejudice Pack (DAPP) developed by the London Probation Service. This was founded on empirical research and literature which has identified specific treatment targets for hate crime.

In this regard, the Accepting Differences Toolkit seeks to target the cause of prejudice-motivated crimes, by examining attitudes and raising awareness of the impact of hate crime on the victims, the community and on the perpetrators themselves. It is pitched at a level where it can be used with those convicted of a hate crime, and where it is suspected a service user’s prejudiced beliefs have contributed to their offending.

Promoting Positive Relationship Programme

In July 2014 Probation were awarded funding by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health to develop an intervention programme to address Domestic Abuse for alleged perpetrators.

“Promoting Positive Relationships Programme” (PPRP) is an innovative programme designed for adult males, who have demonstrated the potential to be abusive in intimate partner relationships. and whose children are assessed at risk by Social Services.

The underlying strategy relating to the intervention is “Tackling Violence at Home” – a strategy for addressing domestic violence and abuse in Northern Ireland and includes the aim to hold perpetrators/abusers accountable and provide effective interventions for their behaviour.

The principal aims of PPRP are to ensure the safety of women and children and to prevent further abusive behaviour. It promotes and requires interagency working and central to this are practitioner review meetings, where all agencies involved with the family meet to discuss risk issues and progress on PPRP. The programme is delivered over 24 sessions, with each session 2 hours in duration and including the essential component of the Partner Safety Worker.

The Partner Support Worker role is to support the current partner of the participant, assist with safety planning, provide information about the content of the programme, provide information regarding a participant’s progress on the programme (within agreed parameters) and signpost the partner to other agencies (e.g. Women’s Aid).

The Promoting Positive Relationships Programme is delivered across all five Trust areas.

Respectful Relationship Intervention (RRI)

Respectful Relationship Intervention (RRI) is intended for ‘lower risk’ individuals who have a history of problems in intimate relationships. The primary goal of RRI is to promote healthy relationships and to reduce the risk of abuse against intimate partners and children.  RRI is designed for Males aged 18 years and who are assessed as lower risk of Intimate Partner Violence, using the B-SAFER assessment.

Participants should have adequate command of English. Individuals with literacy needs are suitable for the programme, but may require additional support. Individuals assessed as moderate or high risk should be considered for an alternative groupwork programme.

The programme is delivered over 12 sessions, with each session 1 hour in duration and includes the essential component of the Partner Safety Worker.

The Partner Support Worker role is to support the current partner of the participant, assist with safety planning, provide information about the content of the programme, provide information regarding a participant’s progress on the programme (within agreed parameters) and signpost the partner to other agencies (e.g. Women’s Aid).

RRI is presently being delivered to men who are supervised in the community by Probation.

For more detailed information on Programmes and Individual Interventions please download the Guide below:

Graphic with PBNI logo and says Guide to Group Work Programmes and Individual Interventions

Guide to Group Work Programmes & Individual Interventions

For further information on all Probation's programmes please contact:

Psychology Services and Interventions
80/90 North Street

Telephone: (028) 9052 2522