Thank you for the opportunity to say a few words at this event to mark the annual analysis of work in the prisons service. Progress in the reform of the Albanian prison system has shown a positive trend in recent years. This has been noted and reported by reliable international observers, in particular the Council of Europe. However, much work still needs to be done. Recent events have underlined the importance of security inside the prison system. This is not just a question of the physical design and construction of prisons. Careful observation of prisoners is important, also effective mechanisms for sharing information inside the prison service in order to prevent escapes or other breaches of security.
The efficient running of any prison service involves a series of compromises. There is a compromise between security and humane treatment of prisoners. There is a compromise between the importance of rehabilitation of prisoners and the need to send a signal to criminals and potential criminals that strong action will be taken against those who threaten public safety. Then there is the balance between running a prison system to the highest standards possible, and the need to limit the cost to the public in times of economic difficulty.
Other recent events have shown the importance of improving cooperation between different agencies of government, to ensure that when potentially dangerous criminals are released from custody on a temporary or permanent basis, all the relevant law enforcement agencies are informed. I would encourage an enhanced role for the probation service in coordinating the re-integration of released convicts in to society and in monitoring those released prisoners who pose particular problems for the community.
In September last year, I was very pleased to hear that the newly appointed Director General of Prisons was an officer of high reputation who had been trained in the United Kingdom, Mr Artur Zoto. I have been impressed by the speed and energy with which he and his new team have started their current duties. Mr Zoto has had the opportunity of some important discussions with his opposites in the British prison service, and these exchanges, valuable for both sides, will continue and deepen in the future. I am sure that the year to come will generate new and difficult challenges for the prison service of Albania. But I am also sure that these challenges will be met with success, and I extend my best wishes to Mr Zoto and his team for the year to come.