The increasing use of Witness Protection Programmes in many countries within the European Union highlights the increased need for European cooperation in this area of policing. Twenty-six participants from 15 EU member states came together at the recent CEPOL Witness Protection course organised by the UK’s National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) on 20 – 23 July 2010.
The bulk of the training was delivered by the Central Witness Bureau which delivers national training to UK-based Witness Protection Officers. The course was opened by keynote speaker Christian Bauer who elaborated on the Europol approach to the subject.
The whole course was based around a scenario which formed a continuous theme throughout, as the participants learned and shared knowledge around the building up of a protected person's assumed identity. The initial aspects of this area were delivered by an experienced expert practitioner and senior covert operations officer from the UK. This was then developed further by two experts from the Netherlands, who supported the course throughout.
Topics covered included biometric effects on identity, child education issues, work related issues and the police/protected person relationship. The psychological aspects of maintaining an assumed identity were examined and shared by an expert from Germany.
The evaluation of the course was overwhelmingly positive, with all of the participants stating they would recommend the training programme to others.
Significant learning and change highlighted by various participants included:
- "Now I have an open mind. I have improved my knowledge"
- "I have a more positive view of my work, knowing there are measures I can take to make my job easier"
- "Great knowledge of the best practices in Witness Protection across Europe"
- "Course achieved what I wished for in that it gave me an insight into the best international practice in the field of Witness Protection. It gave me exposure to new operation procedures and techniques in the area. Presentations, group work and discussion exercises were organised to a high standard by excellent staff."
The course was organised by the United Kingdom CEPOL team with the support of the Netherlands and Denmark.