2003 CEPOL European Police Research & Science Conference

The 2003 CEPOL European Police Research and Science Conference 'Interplay between Research, Education & Practice' took place in Sörentorp, Sweden on 1-3 December 2003.

The Swedish National Police Academy organised the conference with participants from 20 countries. The overriding theme for the conference was the interplay between research, education and practice – a theme which of course is of outmost importance when research and policing is on the agenda.

To give the conference a Nordic touch, four of the key note speakers represented Scandinavian research environments. The idea was to try to give an impression of the different ways in which police research is organised in the Nordic countries. Sweden has had a research department at the Police Academy that, however, has been closed down. Norway has a research department at its Academy that was set up in 1992; Denmark has not and Finland has a unit at one of its training institutions. Besides the Scandinavian speakers, three speakers from other countries were invited; from Germany, United Kingdom and USA.

Ms Birgit Hansson, Director of the Swedish National Police Academy opened the conference and welcomed all the delegates. Mr Ulf Göransson, the Administrative Director of CEPOL secretariat, explained the role of CEPOL before Mr János Fehérváry, Chairman of Research and Science Committee of CEPOL, gave his opening address. Mr Fehérváry gave a historical account of the development within CEPOL in the area of police science and policing. The idea is to create a forum where vital issues can be discussed and the interaction between academia and police might be strengthened. A very important step has been taken in the creation of a research data base, making it possible to get scientific knowledge available in a easy manner.

The conference was organised with two speakers giving their presentations, after which followed workshops where all participants could discuss important issues brought up by the speakers and, moreover, where implications for training and practice could be analysed.

The first speaker was Mr Gunnar Thomassen from the National Police Academy in Oslo who talked about “Police research in Norway: The impact on police accountability”. In his presentation Mr Thomassen gave an account of the development of police research and what it has accomplished. Mr Thomassen, using a study carried out at the Academy on the handling of complaints against the police as an example, argued that the research, in fact, made a difference. The study has had an impact in the discussion of and suggestions for reforms as how these types of complaints shall be handled by the system of justice.

The next speaker was Mr Risto Honkonen from the Police College of Finland who talked about “The roles of formal education and work based learning in the process of becoming a commanding police officer”. In his presentation masculinity was a crucial concept, since, according to Mr Honkonen, masculinity is a cultural descriptor of the police organisation. Career decisions are not simply a matter of the position to achieve in the organisation, it is also a decision about what kind of masculinity a male police officer wants and may realise. Mr Honkonen made a difference between physical and aristocratic masculinity, where aristocratic masculinity means both showing a high moral standard and being physical and active.

Becoming a commanding officer means choosing the aristocratic masculinity. Furthermore, for a training to be efficient, it is important to distinguish between what should be taught in a formal educational setting and what should be learnt in practical training.

Ms Gloria Laycock from the Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science, University College London, talked about ”Why do practitioners need crime science research?”. The purpose of crime science, which is a newly developed field of research, is to improve our understanding of crime and its causes and that thereby helping us in preventing crimes and reducing disorder, and when that is not possible, enabling us to more efficiently catch criminals. The aim is thus to produce knowledge with a very practical content. As for prevention, Ms Laycock argued for the power of the behavioural context and the preventive effects that may be achieved by changing situational factors. For detection, technical innovations in the area of DNA and other areas might prove to be very helpful. (for those who wants to know more, a visit to the website www.jdi.ucl.ac.uk is recommended.)

Mr Mike Scott from University of Wisconsin, US, talked about “Implementing Problem-Oriented Policing”. Problem-Oriented Policing is a new framework both for the practice of policing and for the management of police agencies. A core element is that police are not simply dealing with individual crimes and incidents, but with problems. By carefully analysing problems the police will be able to respond to them in a more efficient manner. This calls for engaging others who is in position to affect the causes that creates problems.

To carry out Problem-Oriented Policing it is necessary to create a body of knowledge based on research and practice. Even if the idea of Problem-Oriented Policing has been known for some time, it is rarely found implemented in its true sense. Chiefs of police must support it and let it be known among the police officers that this is what is expected of them. Line officers must also be supported and given a significant role in identifying problems, analysing them and developing and implementing responses. As part of the presentation Mr Scott demonstrated a web site constructed for the support of Problem-Oriented Policing – www.popcenter.org.

Mr Johannes Knutsson from the Swedish National Police Academy, made a presentation over the theme “Police Use of Firearms in Sweden and Norway”. The situation is extremely interesting with two in many aspects similar societies. However, when it comes to policing there is one significant difference – Sweden has a regularly armed police force and Norway an unarmed. All Norwegian officers are trained in the use of firearms and may use them in about the same situations as their Swedish colleagues, but may only arm themselves by order of a chief of police.

The consequences of this difference in policy were demonstrated using all incidents where police in service had used their weapons since mid 1980 as empirical base. Swedish officers fired their arms five times more often when control was made for differences in population size. In absolute numbers 30 incidents per year occurred in Sweden and three in Norway. Norwegian officers fired their arms in controlled situations involving organised teams with longer distances between firing officer and target compared to Sweden, where an ordinary uniformed patrol shot in emergency situations of self-defence at close distance.

The last speaker representing a Nordic country was Mr Lars Holmberg from the Institute of Legal Science, University of Copenhagen, who talked about “Police use of Discretion – Discrimination in Practice”. Mr Holmberg had observed the police in the field and argued that police discretion was a consequence of two forms of power; the power of definition and the power of procedure. By using stereotypes based on experience, the police will scrutinise some kinds of people more than other, where “regular customers” are at risk. When it comes to give – or not to give – formal reactions, the same mechanism is at work. “Good” citizens stand a better chance of lenient treatment than does a regular customer. This means that police act discriminatory. One way of diminishing this practice, is increasing supervision. But that will not help alone. Police must present the citizens with reasons for their interference and act under the presumption of innocence as guiding principle.

Mr Thomas Feltes, University of Bochum, Germany, presented a paper with the title “Immigration, integration and insecurity – the role of police ethics and training”. Multicultural conflicts will, as a consequence of immigration and migration, become a challenge for the police within a unified Europe. Migration brings people with different languages, cultures, economic standards and races together. The backsides are the negative aspects of these processes; increased fear, conflicts and xenophobia among large groups. In order to handle this situation the ethical standard of the police must be high. To improve it, methods must be utilised that take into account the police culture, since police culture easily can become a major obstacle. Given this challenge, Mr Feltes argued that within training programmes for police officers, communication and conflict solution skills will assume an importance equal to that of law and other important subjects.

Last in the programme, Mr Detlef Nogala from Max-Planck-Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, presented the CEPOL Research and Science Database. It is a database where abstracts from research reports will be stored and made easily available for police colleges and other interested in the field. Specially appointed correspondents from the different participating countries will supply the information in the database.

In the closing remarks Ms Beatrice Rydberg from the organising committee was especially mentioned and thanked for her excellent work.


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