With 27 Member States and with a combined population of over 500 million people, the European Union forms the spearhead towards a utopian future, where peace and cooperation will be commonplace, where diversity, intolerance and bigotry will be considered a remnant of a distant past, forgotten and long lost.
Bright as that hope and dream might seem, we are far from achieving this Nirvana. The sense of security and prosperity of all E.U. citizens is beset on all sides by cross border organised crime. Taking advantage of and twisting the ideas of free movement of people, ideas, technology and resources for their own private agendas, organised crime groups have become a serious threat that must be dealt with swiftly and efficiently.
Rolling with the tide and taking advantage of an increased spirit of cooperation and understanding between various actors and partners on a European Level, the E.U. has added a new weapon in its arsenal to combat serious crime: Joint Investigation Teams; for never has mankind stood stronger than when joined together, following a common vision and sharing a common purpose.
From 12 – 16 December 2011 the CEPOL Secretariat in cooperation with EJTN (European Judicial Training Network), having in mind all of the above, as well as the fact that the Seminars organised under the auspices of CEPOL have proved to be the best meeting point for Police Officers and Officials from the Member States, undertook the responsibility of organising the CEPOL Seminar 92/2011, “Joint Investigation Teams” whilst the responsibility of hosting went to the CEPOL Unit of the Hellenic Police Academy in Athens, Greece.
The main objectives, with regards to the evaluation feedback given by the participants, were fully met, and were:
- Given a learning situation and working group activities, Participants will be able to understand and interpret the concept of JITs.
- Given a learning situation and feedback from various European Agencies/Services, the participant will be able to identify and categorise different instruments of European Cooperation in the field of JITs.
- Given a learning situation and scenarios, participants will be able to comprehend and understand the procedures of setting up and managing JITs.
- Given a learning situation and study cases – discussions, participants will enhance their ability to apply for JIT funding, through relevant guidance.
- Given a learning environment and CEPOL’s electronic platform (e-Net), the participant will be able to establish an ongoing network with colleagues from EU Member- States.
The Seminar was supported by Europol, Eurojust, and OLAF, via the contribution of experts and trainers. The team was complete with the addition of a Greek expert and an external expert/moderator from Finland.
Following the Seminar’s opening and after an initial introductory CEPOL – EU and e-Net awareness presentation, the rest of the day was dedicated to overviewing JITs.
Day two started with a presentation delivered on National Support, followed by another on “When to Use JITs”. After that the topic “Legislation” was presented. The day, as did all of the seminar’s subsequent days, finished with a workshop case study. These workshops were given to the participants, in order to help them see the JITs from a more practical angle and focused on the themes mentioned in the daily sessions.
The third day’s presentations started with the following topic: “Set up practicalities”. Following this, the next session focused on “Setting up and Running JITs: 3rd parties”. The afternoon’s workshop saw the participants split up into six groups tackling a related case study.
Day four opened with a morning session on “Handling Evidence” followed closely by “Evaluation of JITs” and ended with a presentation on Funding.
The final day’s workings commenced with a Reflective Panel, formed by the participants and the experts, during which they expressed their thoughts on the success of the activity and continued with an electronic evaluation of the Seminar, using CEPOL’s e-Net. Closing the seminar, the Chief of the Police Staff of the Hellenic Police Force, Police Lieutenant General STAMATAKIS Adamantios, delivered certificates to the participants.
In closing, we would like to use the words of two of the participants and of an expert that commented the activity as a whole:
Mr. Hartmut Riekoetter, a participant from Germany, said:
'The idea behind the course was to merge academic and practical experiences and knowledge. Added value was gained by the integration of Police, Justice and European institutions. For this purpose different lecturers took the floor: experts from the relevant bodies of the European Union, such as Europol, Eurojust, OLAF and EJTN as well as GR HENU. In this way the most relevant topics were discussed and presented from different perspective. Participants took part actively in the interesting discussions, contributing and creating an active and stimulating environment. Furthermore case studies and their outcome were reflecting especially the practical focus.”
Mr. Eamon O Grady, a participant from Ireland, stated:
“The CEPOL course on Joint Investigation Teams (JIT) hosted by the Hellenic Police (CEPOL Unit) was an excellent course that was extremely well organised and conducted. The course content and structure was very well put together with interactive presentations from an array of experts in the various disciplines/agencies concerned with the establishment and operation of JITs. The course structure facilitated great practical learning in that workshops were held each afternoon using case studies to examine and reinforce the learning of the various subjects that took place in the morning sessions.
The class composition was also excellent, with judges, prosecutors and police officers from many member states. The composition of the workshops meant that each of the participants had the opportunity to not only relay their roles in a JIT or potential JIT, but also to understand the various limitations, requirements and expectations of the other participant's legislative systems.”
Mrs. Monica Quattrocchio, an expert from Europol, had the following to say:
“The CEPOL Seminar in Athens was a great experience. It was the first time I attended a CEPOL Seminar and I was impressed by the professionalism of the colleagues working for CEPOL Greece. The organisers succeeded in exceeding all the expectations:
- The course was very well organised and structured;
- In a very short period of time the participants were able to reach a good level of knowledge about the subject;
- The class was very interactive and enough time was devoted to the exercises
- The courtesy and availability of CEPOL’s Hellenic colleagues was outstanding: they managed to create a fantastic team spirit during the seminar and took care of all the participants and the experts during the free time in a remarkable way.