CEPOL highlights the value of being prepared against violent attacks in public

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03 November 2021
Hellenic Police

CEPOL Activity 71/2021 “Violent attacks against public - Amok shootings” was held from the 12th to the 15th of October 2021, in Veroia, Hellas.

This activity was organised because, within the contemporary security context, modern societies have experienced attacks which could not immediately be categorised as acts of an organised terrorist plan, or can be considered acts of persons in crisis, who suffer from psychological disorders or illnesses. These incidents immediately draw the focus of the media - and that of the public opinion - to a level that requires immediate actions from the police authorities, in order to tackle the threat.

For the purposes of:

(a) identification and early recognition of the risk,

(b) development and coordination of specific preventive tools,

(c) readiness on behalf of the law enforcement agencies to immediately tackle the threat and

(d) competence in order to handle the reactions of the public opinion and provide adequate answers, in a productive way,

a combination of the learning points stemming from international experiences and the proposed best practices, with the results of the scientific research, regarding amok shooters, the paths towards radicalisation, and other findings from behavioural and psychological sciences, is essential.

The activity was organised by the Joint Coordination Centre for Operations & Crisis Management (ESKEDIK) of the Hellenic Police, with the cooperation of the Hellenic CEPOL Unit. Experts from ESKEDIK, the Centre for Security Studies (KE.ME.A.), Europol, the United States of America (F.B.I.) and Cyprus, contributed to the Activity.

27 participants, from 21 EU Member States, attended the activity. The participants were actively engaged throughout the activities, especially by bringing in their respective national and international approaches and experiences, transferring knowledge, identifying gaps and limitations, and exchanging best practices, thus benefitting all parts.

The activity was built around the notion that participants would be actively involved in practical exercises and not forced to sit through countless hours of presentations. The first step towards implementing this training strategy was in applying the flipped classroom and blended learning style of training. A CEPOL Webinar, linked to the Curriculum of the Activity, was designed and implemented, before the start of the activity. The selected participants were required to attend, or view it later, in a recording. This provided an opportunity to get every participant on the same entry level and save valuable classroom time for more practical aspects of the training.

On the actual implementation date of the activity, the opening day was devoted to presentations on: “Public Spaces and Soft Targets Protection”, “Basic concepts and differences between a terrorist attack and the phenomenon of amok shootings”, “Symptoms indicating the capability and the motivation of carrying out a violent attack against the public by a person” trying to give the participants a global and well-rounded view on the subject topics. The day concluded with the presentation of case studies.

The first half of the second day of the activity was devoted to presentations on: “Safety and Security Risk Management “, “The EU Vulnerability Assessment Tool “and “Crisis Management Procedures”; these presentations concluded the theoretical part for the training. During the afternoon session, participants were asked to present their National Crisis Respond System, in terms of awareness of the public for combating the phenomenon, as well as to share real incidents from their own countries. This was an implementation of the pre-activity assignments. The rest of the day was devoted to a table top exercise, which involved all participants.

During the third day, the participants were transported to an external location, for an in situ practical exercise. They were divided into groups, guided by a trainer and put in charge of a specific location. They were asked to survey the actual grounds of a famous, local, religious site, focusing on the security measures, the (possible) threats and other areas of concern, in relation to a security debriefing, which contained relevant information and were asked to keep notes. At the second half of the day, the participants were divided into working groups and using their notes and personal experience from the visit, analysed the data and came up with security suggestions, contingency plans and counter measures.

The Activity’s workings concluded in the final day with a presentation / open discussion on “International Cooperation capabilities for the combat of the phenomenon” and “Civilians Raise Awareness Campaigns”. Spokespersons of the various participant groups, presented the findings and outcomes of their workings in the plenary session.

The participants highly valued and much appreciated the organisation and implementation of the activity, as well as the added value brought by the experts and the organising team.

Mr. Matthieu MOREL, a participant from France, had this to state: "This CEPOL activity organised by Greece was an opportunity for me to get an overview of threat of violent attacks and its assessment, through the sharing of global experiences and the appropriation of the European Vulnerability Assessment Tool (VAT). The networking activities were also privileged moments to further discuss national best practices and draw bridges between European law enforcement actors. The welcome conveniences and facilities by Greece were amazing, which only added to the pleasure of participating in such an event!".

Mr. Stefano SPAMPINATO, a participant from Italy, had this to share: "I really appreciated all the Course, the explained topics and – most important - the spirit in the class. The level was high and all experts were well-prepared and captivating. Nothing to add about the organisation, just one word: awesome! Beautiful experience in a lovely and warm country and - beyond the lessons - friendly and helpful colleagues."

Mr. Vyron VYRONOS, an expert from Cyprus, had this to say: “Each CEPOL training activity should have three important pillars. The first is education, the second is networking among the participants and the third is the acquaintance with the culture, manners and customs of the host Member State. This program has fully met the above beyond my expectations as an expert. My congratulations both to the administration and the staff of the Hellenic Police Academy of Veria for the hospitality in their facilities and to the organisers. Special congratulations to Apostolos Skrekas, the E.S.K.E.D.I.K. team and the Hellenic CEPOL Unit”.

This Activity was the outcome of a joint effort between ESKEDIK and the Hellenic Police Academy, who cooperated in organising all administrative/logistics aspects of the activity.

CEPOL Course 71/2021


Contributions are directly provided by CEPOL partners and published on this page “as is”. As a result, CEPOL shall hold no responsibility in the accuracy of content provided by the partner. Opinions reflected in these blogspots shall not be deemed to represent CEPOL’s Management or staff’s opinion.



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