2009 CEPOL European Police Research & Science Conference

Future Policing in Europe: A Shared Agenda for Research

Badhoevedorp, The Netherlands, 18-20 November 2009

CEPOL - European Police College organized its seventh annual Police Research and Science Conference on 18-20 November 2009 near Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The conference was organized by the Police Academy of The Netherlands in close cooperation with Austria, Germany and CEPOL’s Research and Science Working Group. Around 75 police researchers, trainers, practitioners and policy-makers discussed several dimensions concerning the challenges faced by police forces across Europe.

The challenges include several dimensions. A first dimension concerns organisational issues, such as technological innovation, risk-management, diversity in and around police forces, multi-disciplinary cooperation with other partners, intelligence-led policing, and selection and recruitment. Another important strand concerns the challenges in crime and disorder, such as cybercrime, radicalisation and external security deficits. Finally, the conference dealt with the European dimension of policing, police training and police research.

The topic “Future Policing in Europe” was approached from an academic as well as a practical angle. Under the guidance of several moderators, the conference contained a mixture of presentations and interactive sessions, including plenary speeches, mini-seminars, poster sessions and a panel discussion. The aim was to involve all participants and to alternate the roles of speaker, listener and debater.

The conference organisers made an effort to invite a balanced representation of male and female speakers, mature and promising new researchers and attendees from several European Member States.

The objectives of the conference activity included:

  1. Providing support to police by research, science and an academic approach;
  2. Exploring expectations and possibilities for comparative research efforts in a European perspective;
  3. Strengthening the networking processes between police science and police practice;
  4. Consolidating the integration of research and police education;
  5. Encouraging the exchange of knowledge between the security field and police research.

The final objective was to reflect on the consequences of innovation and policing reforms.

The conference was opened by Chief Constable and Chairman of the Executive Board of the Police Academy of The Netherlands, Ad van Baal. His opening speech was followed by a lecture by Prof. Dr Pieter Tops, Member of the Executive Board of the Police Academy of The Netherlands and Professor of Public Administration of the University of Tilburg (The Netherlands) who provided an exposé about the importance of informal and tacit knowledge for the further development of police organisations, and the role of knowledge and research in the professionalisation of police officers.

Chaired by the CEPOL Research and Science Working Group Chair, Dr Janos Fehervary from the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Sicherheitsakademie in Vienna (Austria), the training and research part highlighted that police forces throughout Europe may be presented with strategic issues, such as the emergence of a reflective and intelligent work force, which may present new management challenges for politicians. Other challenges that present themselves when police forces become more knowledgeable include matters of authority, flexibility and image.

Dr Peter Neyroud, Chief Constable and Chief Executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency of the United Kingdom presented a plenary lecture entitled “Shifts in Policing, Police Profession and Police Organisation”. He elaborated on topics such as the economic pressures on policing resulting from budget cuts in public expenditure, the rising costs and declining tax revenues. He also paid attention to the changes in the performance management in policing and the role of science in policing. Furthermore, he analysed the composition of the police work force, the role of the detective, the rise of nationalisation and localism, as well as internationalisation. All these trends harbour significant challenges for police forces throughout Europe.

After the general presentations and lectures, the conference became more detailed. Several plenary speakers were requested by the conference organisers to focus on particular issues, relating both the organisational as well as contextual aspects in the development of policing.

Dr Tatiana Tropina from the Cybercrime Research Institute in Cologne (Germany) dealt with cyber-policing as a current and future challenge for law enforcement. She mentioned several threats which emanate from cybercrime, including the migration of traditional crime (such as child pornography and money laundering) to the Internet. Resulting from this threat is the necessity to organise cross-border law enforcement cooperation. Self evident as this cooperation may be, however, there are several challenges to cope with, such as the different procedural rights for suspects and victims, as well as the lack of proper facilities to tackle cybercrime within a number of law enforcement systems. Dr Tropina gave an overview of initiatives in this field, such as CIRCAMP, the creation of the European Cyber Crime Platform by Europol, as well as training programmes.

Professor Sirpa Virta from the University of Tampere (Finland) spoke about the theme “Preventing Radicalization” and brought about several avenues for new research relevant for police forces throughout Europe. She elaborated on the EU Home Affairs and Security Strategies, from which new challenges have evolved in this particular field. Themes she listed were radicalization as a phenomenon and police training through the EU ISEC programme. Professor Virta maintained joint multi-disciplinary research projects are needed. Moreover, in order to tackle radicalization properly it may be necessary to reach beyond conventional crime prevention. One of the pressing questions she put forward is the extent to which police officers are equipped to recognise the early signals of radicalization and extremism.

The final plenary lecture on the first day of the conference was presented by Prof. Dr Gorazd Meško, Dean of the Faculty of Criminal Justice and Security of the University of Maribor (Slovenia). For him, the conceptual challenges the police are currently confronted with include the emergence of contemporary social control, including the citizens as a policing resource and institutionalised informal control. Professor Meško spoke at length about the issues arising in the context of “multilateral” policing, which includes cooperation between public police officers and private security employees. Research issues evolving concern, for instance, patterns of conflict, competition, cooperation and partnership. The speaker believed the challenges for further research lie – among others - in a comparative study in Europe and the public opinion about plural security providers. After the first day, the conference participants met for dinner to consolidate their European network.

The programme on the second day provided two more plenary lectures, followed by simultaneous interactive mini-seminars about developing trends and poster sessions presented on newly emerging topics. Moderated by Professor Joachim Kersten from the German Police University in Münster (Germany), the first plenary lecture was presented by Prof. Tom Vanderbeken of Ghent University (Belgium), who spoke about the anticipation of future (in)securities and the role of risk assessment. A new challenge for police forces nowadays is to police the risk society, which is based on an increased exploitation of knowledge and intelligence. Police forces nowadays have to think ahead and have to rank the likelihood and potential seriousness of risk events. Prof. Vanderbeken explained in detail the difference between threat analyses, vulnerability studies, harm assessments and risk analyses. He concluded that scenarios studies can be useful tools to assess and anticipate developments and to take a reflexive attitude towards multiple futures.

Dr Sabine Vogt from the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden (Germany) offered the conference participants a look into the innovatory power of European police forces. Early detection and diagnosis of the shifts and challenges lie at the heart of the reflective potential of police agencies. Geographical and strategic early detection can reveal a connection between different phenomena and prepare the police force to make steps in terms of setting objectives, planning strategies and prioritising policies and instruments. Dr Vogt explained how the pieces of the puzzle evolving from an environmental analysis can be put together in a process model, called STEP. She introduced the BKA scenario technique, which is worked out in the form of workshops based on real cases, such as delinquency which is related to the capital markets. A similar scenario technique was applied in the context of the UN/EU peace-keeping missions.

After a discussion, the conference participants separated in groups of five different interactive mini-seminars about developing trends. The themes of these mini-seminars were “Techno-policing”(by Dr Renato Raggi from the Carabinieri Officers College in Vicenza, Italy); “Policing diversity” (by Professor Sirpa Virta, University of Tampere, Finland); “Knowledge-led policing” (by Professor Joachim Kersten from the German Police University in Münster, Germany); “Recruitment, education and careers in European police forces” (by Prof. Tore Björgo, Norwegian Police University College, Oslo, Norway); and “Private policing” (by Prof. Raimundas Kalesnykas, Dean of the Law Faculty of the International School of Law and Business, Vilnius, Lithuania).

The method of the mini-seminars allowed conference participants to select two themes, which meant that in a smaller setting, they felt encouraged to intervene and raise questions.

Following the mini-sessions, a variety of themes were presented by “junior” researchers who are involved in a post-doctoral or professional research project. These poster sessions were performed by Anne van Ewijk of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain (“diversity in police organizations”); Martijn Schippers of the Dutch Police Region Amsterdam-Amstelland (“intelligence-led policing”); Maren Eline Kleiven of the Police University College Oslo, Norway (“police reform missions”); and Gregor Wewer of Europol (“governing police co-operation in the EU”). The latter sessions were mainly meant to initiate and strengthen particular thematic research networks throughout the European Union.

At the start of the official dinner, Chief Constable Bernard Welten of the Dutch Police Force Amsterdam-Amstelland presented an enthusiastic and inspiring speech about the value of research for the development of policing and police organisations.

The final day of the conference was moderated by Prof. Monica den Boer of the Police Academy of The Netherlands and the VU University Amsterdam (Netherlands), and focused entirely on the EU efforts in the field of European police cooperation, in particular police training and police research.

Police Commissioner Michiel Holtackers, Chair of the Annual Programme Committee of CEPOL and Head of Staff International Relations at the Police Academy of the Netherlands, gave the first lecture about the Stockholm Programme on the further development of the EU area of freedom, security and justice. He regarded police training as essential for building the necessary trust between law enforcement forces throughout Europe. In this regard, an international exchange programme and internships are deemed indispensable. Moreover, specific training challenges were mentioned, including training which is targeted at the protection of vulnerable groups, such as victims of crime; the focus on serious crime with a cross-border dimension; training aimed at improved usage of the existing instruments for police cooperation; combined training efforts with third countries; and (common) training methods.

The issues raised by Michiel Holtackers received deep reflection from relevant practitioners and policy makers in the form of a panel discussion: Mr Christian Jechoutchek (Assistant Director Corporate Governance of Europol), Prof. Dr Klaus Neidhardt (Chair of the Training and Research Committee of CEPOL and President of the German Police University in Münster) and Kristien van Goey (Directorate General Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission). The panel discussion evoked several interventions from the conference participants.

The conference was concluded by Prof. Didier Bigo from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris. He gave a flash demonstration of the legal and political events in the area of EU police cooperation during the past two decades. He observed a number of tensions arising from the Stockholm Programme, such as bringing the EU closer to its citizens through a reliable provision of security, and policing at a distance which is based on patterns of information-gathering and surveillance. He ended by advocating a European Union in which there is a balance between freedom of movement and security.

The organising countries The Netherlands, Austria and Germany as well as the Research and Science Working Group, were pleased with the active participation of police professionals, police trainers and police researchers from all over Europe, turning the event into a worthwhile annual gathering for the exchange of knowledge about police-relevant matters.

Prof. Dr. Monica den Boer

Academic Dean, Police Academy of The Netherlands / VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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