Prevention of Severe and Targeted Violence course held in Finland

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03 July 2012

Crisis Management and Emergency Planning: School Shootings and AMOK Incidents” is the title of a CEPOL course held at the Police College of Finland in Tampere on 4-8 June 2012. Twenty-nine participants from 21 different Member States as well as Norway took part in the event. The course’s expert trainers came from Finland, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Peter Sund, course manager, opened the activity by summarising the aims and objectives of the course. Mr Sund explained that the event’s core theme was to promote approaches that focus on prevention of serious and planned violence through police activities. The topics of the course concentrated on school shootings, serious acts of violence in public places, the cultures of hate and violence on the internet and police actions regarding these phenomena.

Following Mr Sund’s introduction, course manager Dr Mari Koskelainen went on by exploring the core concepts of the course in a presentation entitled “Evidence Based Knowledge on Violence Risk Indicators”. Dr Koskelainen spoke about the need to use empirical research findings in guiding the way risk and threat assessments are conducted.

Detective Chief Inspector Gordy Harper from Northern Ireland ended the first day with a presentation entitled “The Threat Posed by Terrorist and Non-Terrorist Active Shooters - Preparing the Police Response to Severe Targeted Violence, Mass-Murders and Other Attacks in Public Places within a Multi-Agency Context”. Mr Harper spoke about the need to establish an operating model that systematically considers the information and intelligence available as the basis for operational decision making. Mr Harper introduced the model his organisation uses and demonstrated via case examples how this model can be utilised.

Day two of the course saw four presentations from Finnish expert speakers. The day started with a presentation by Dr Atte Oksanen. The title of his presentation was “School Shootings and the Culture of Hate and Violence on the Internet”. Dr Oksanen spoke about the developmental path and factors behind severe targeted violence, including conditions for school shootings. He also explored the culture of hate on the internet and the forms of expression this takes.

Detective Inspector Jussi Hyysalo held a presentation on “Internet Intelligence in Prevention of Severe Violent Attacks. Mr Hyysalo described the internet intelligence approach the Finnish police use in prevention of severe violent attacks and how the police gather leads to planned violence.

In the afternoon Mr Sund spoke about a systemic view to prevention of severe targeted violence in his presentation entitled “Prevention of Severe Targeted Violence in Educational Institutions”. Mr Sund explored how such prevention systems and structures are created in organisations and how different organisations can function together.

The fourth speaker of the day, Police Sergeant Markus Heiskanen, presented material from the communicated threats the police have been investigating in Finland. The presentation entitled “Applications of Police Based Threat Assessment and Threat Screening of Communicated Threats” noted some common themes the police have been discovering whilst looking at these threats.

On day three of the course Dr Jens Hoffmann from Germany held a full day workshop. This workshop covered various aspects of threat assessment in relation to different forms of severe targeted violence. Dr Hoffmann’s workshop title of “System Safe School Workshops” was extended to cover key research findings in the field of threat assessment in addition to school shootings. Dr Hoffmann’s presentation explored the “Pathway to Violence”-model as well as the “Typology of Warning Behaviours” as a way of conducting threat assessments based on research findings and evidence.

On the last day of the activity a plenary session was held during which the participants had the opportunity to ask questions and give feedback about the course. Mr Sund, who facilitated the plenary session, also went through the goals the participants had set themselves for the course. Whether these goals had been achieved was discussed. Although many remaining questions and dilemmas were raised, there seemed to be a common understanding that the goals of the course had been achieved.

Despite having worked hard during the course’s four information packed days, the participants were still keen to take the opportunities to share thoughts and experiences during their “off-time” as well. Evenings also provided an opportunity to relax and socialise in a less formal manner. Formal and informal networking naturally took place during the event. It appeared that the participants left the course having formed new contacts with colleagues from many different European countries and that they were planning to keep these alive beyond the course’s environment.


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