POLICING IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE: Comparing Firsthand Knowledge with Experience from the West,
© 1996 College of Police and Security Studies, Slovenia


Anton Dvoršek

The geo-strategic position of Slovenia, among others bordering also with two traditional West European States, enabled a relatively quick transfer of foreign experiences and scientific cognisance's. This is true also for the area of police work. It could be best seen with the introduction of new findings in the area of forensic researches, where we have our Forensic Research Lab Centre which is connected through the European network of forensic labs with leading European forensic laboratories. This Lab carries out the most demanding forensic researches under the West European standards and exchanges the results and experiences with Western states. The transfer of knowledge and experiences in the area of suppression of various types of the international organised crime is also rather successful. This is running through various forms of education at the Central European Police Academy, the Police management Academy in Munster, the FBI Academy in Budapest, within the framework of Interpol and with the Surrey Police. The timely introduction of methods of covert investigation in criminal analytics still enables our police to prevent quicker growth of the organised crime. We successfully transfer foreign experiences also in the introduction of preventive activities in local communities. However, we estimate as less successful the transfer of foreign experiences in the areas of personnel selection, police management, specifics of police management and police strategies; shortly: everywhere where novelties are connected with the elimination of the old models of police work. Some better organisational solution are still waiting to be adopted by the Parliament, as well as many other laws, important for police work. We believe that these slower changes in the cited areas were caused by obstacles, which are childhood diseases of new democracies and are known also in other countries that lived through changes of their political system. We also encountered other problems with the transfer of Western police experiences, which are not connected with our obstacles at home. We specifically think here of the fact that foreign police and other institutions do not properly take in consideration, while transferring their experiences and knowledge, the fact that Slovenian police successfully transferred many Western police experiences in its work, even before the independence and the political changes in East Europe. It happens that because of this a lot of matters offered to Slovenian and Eastern European police forces through educational programmes is no longer new or better. In the future the Slovenian police will seek mostly the possibilities for quick transfer of those skills and experiences which will be necessary for incorporation in various (Western) associations.


There are about 6.200 police officers in Slovenian police forces, about 90% of them belong to the uniformed police and the rest to the criminal police. This represent about 314 police officers per 100.000 inhabitants, which is about the average found in Western European States. Yearly they must deal with about 40.000 criminal offences which, when compared with the neighbouring States, do not represent any particular threat. The number of crimes per 100.000 inhabitants is larger in Italy, Austria and Hungary for the majority of criminal offences, only homicides happen more often then in Austria and the drug related crimes are a bit more frequent in Hungary (Interpol, Interpol Crime Statistics, 1995).

The criminality did not increase during the last two years and is slightly receding, which follows some of the trends found in police statistics in the Western European States. We primarily think here of Germany, The Netherlands and Austria, since we did not receive new statistic data from other countries. Our trends are less similar to the police statistics of Eastern European States, where the existing Interpol statistics show no decline. The number of violent crimes and organised crimes, where domestic criminals join the criminals from East and West is, however, increasing. Also some new forms of economic crime are increasing as well; we talk here of business frauds and abuses of privatisation of social property. Though the economic crimes represent only about 13% of the structure of crime, it caused over 60% of all damage. Specially in regard of the investigation of the organised crime and of the new forms of economic crime our success is closely connected with the gathering of the Western European experiences. Slovenian police is for the time being still more successful than police forces of Western and Central European countries in the investigation of classic forms of crime since it researched over 60% of registered crimes.

Slovenian police is also quite well equipped, there is, e.g., one computer per 3,4 policemen, one automobile per 6,8 policemen, one radio link per 1,5 police officer, etc. The comparison of data on formal education also does not show any deviations from neighbouring States. Over 8% of policemen have got university degrees, about 10% have superior school (college) education and the rest secondary education (high school). However, they lack experience since the average age of the employees is 34 years and about 45% of them have got less than 10 years of working experience. There is no head in the Slovenian police force that is over 50 years old. Only small part of this situation was caused by the political changes, it is more a result of weakness of the personnel policy and the evaluation of police work, which caused many prospective employees with university degrees to leave police ranks.

The organisation of Slovenian police will be dealt with in special paper. At this occasion we should mentioned only that the organisational changes in last few years were largely copied from German models. Reasons for this were partly historical (in the past Slovenia was administratively similarly organised as German countries), partly political ( traditionally good relationship and its police with some German States, specially with Bavaria and Hessen). We must also mention that police co-operates together with the two institutions existing within the Ministry of Finances in suppression of tax evasions and prevention of money laundry.

Slovenian police officers may find foreign knowledge and experience in their own professional library, which receives over 200 foreign reviews with police related matters and which has the on-line access to numerous foreign specialised data bases. What they can't get in their own library they may find in the library of the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, which has an even greater fund of professional literature. Police is publishing also two professional reviews, of which specially the Review for Criminalistics and Criminology has a proper reputation abroad since we exchanged it with over thirty reviews from the Western European countries. Ministry of the Interior financially supports every year also one of scientific researches which contents are proposed by police. In last few years we thus made research on:


For better understanding of present situation it is necessary to make a brief historical trip. More then forty years ago the experts of the Forensic Research Lab Centre were the first to get their training abroad. They did not bring back only the theoretical knowledge but also information about new techniques of investigation and about necessary equipment. They successfully included both things into domestic practice so that today this Centre could be completely compared with similar Western centres in regard of equipment and knowledge.

The computer and informatics experts were the next to get their systematical training abroad. They also managed to their knowledge in domestic practice, this is also the reason why the Slovenian police officers are not behind their Western colleagues in this area. To illustrate this we must mention that they were among the first to establish the system of electronic mail X.400 with the Interpol centre in Lyon. They are linked with the ASF system (access to the data bases of the General Secretariat of Interpol). The same is valid also for the experts on the area of telecommunications.

In the past the technical areas had an advantage in the transfer of foreign knowledge and experiences, though the equipment bought abroad was very expensive. We presume that the reason for the advantage of transfer of knowledge from these areas lied in the fact that they were politically more neutral, and had therefore a certain priority. However we can not say that police did not have any information about other foreign findings and experiences, only the transfer was different. We can find in our professional library numerous translations of foreign professional literature, specially German and American one, covering the areas of police tactics, organisation, investigation methods, etc. In this way was included in the project of the police reorganisation on the local level the idea for the implementation of the so called community policing. This project introduces a prevention police officer, who is called here Head of Police District and who will have similar role as the Community Policing Officer and Crime Prevention Officer in the USA or the Community Liaison Officer in Great Britain. The co- operation between police and citizens will be institutionalised through the form of informal councils, following the model of Western Anglo-Saxon countries.

The first among the non-technical experts to get their training in foreign countries were the criminal investigators that were covering the area of illicit drug trafficking. They participate already for twenty years at various training, organised world-wide by DEA (Drug Enforcement Organisation). All domestic training programmes covering this area, including hand-books, were prepared through the transfer of knowledge from the cited agency.

Thanks to this transfer of knowledge within the frame of the training organised by DEA, the Slovenian police was not completely unprepared when it had to face the first forms of organised crime in our country. The additional training, which will be discussed further on, nowadays enabled our police to get successfully involved in various international investigations and to exchange undercover agents with neighbouring countries in cases of investigations of international criminal associations. With this we are now entering the area of present situation in the cited field of work.

There are two major facts that push the Slovenian police towards the quickest possible transfer of foreign knowledge and exchange of experiences:

Both demand good international co-operation of the Slovenian police force. This would be impossible without good knowledge of the particularities of foreign police legislation, (new) tactics of work and technical and other equipment used by the police. The necessity of such views is stressed also in the manual "International police co-operation in the light of European processes of integration".(Celar, 1996).

The best way for such exchange and transfer of knowledge and experiences is the participation at the training programmes of international and national police academies. Slovenia is already for some years a member of the Central European Police Academy, which is covering the area of suppression of (international) crime and traffic safety. This year we entered also in the International Police Academy, opened by the FBI at Budapest (ILEA) and we participate at the seminars, organised by the German Police Academy for management in Munster.

The other important forms for the acquisition and exchange of skills, also used by the Slovenian police, are memberships and activities in various professional associations and institutions. In the first place we must mention here the good co-operation of our Forensic Research Centre with related centres in Germany. Our Centre is also member of the European network of forensic laboratories (ENFSL). Among the institutions with which the Slovenian police is co-operating we must also mention the co-operation with the Pompidou Group within the framework of the European Council; the PHARE programme of the European Union and the sub-regional programme of the United Nations for drug control (UNDCP) (together with Poland, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and Hungary).

We must not forget to mention also the acquisition and exchange of knowledge and experience through participation at various professional seminars and working meetings, organised by Interpol and by Western and Eastern police forces. At this point we must mention the acquirement of necessary experiences for border control under the provisions of the Schengen Agreement. Slovenia borders towards two states which are now involved in the process of approaching to the Schengen Agreement, which of course, demands a certain "Schengen orientation" of the Slovenian police with regard of measures to be taken at the border. A commendable case is also the project "Slovenia - Surrey Police partnership", which deals with the strategicy questions of police organisation.

In order to evaluate the suitability and the quality of the transfer of foreign skills and experiences into the work of the Slovenian police, it is necessary to realise, which skills and experiences are available by foreign police forces and the Slovenian police does not know how, or has no wish to implement them in its own activities, or has no possibilities to do so. We must also realise what can we offer abroad. We already mentioned that can get quite good comparisons due to the relatively easy access to foreign experiences and to the organisational and technical solutions. Let's see just the annual training programmes of The Association of European Police Colleges (Calendar of Courses, 1996). This programmes offer various possibilities for various forms of training in various West European countries. The majority of the topics offered cover the area of police operations (tactics and methods), however, at least 10% of their offer cover the programmes in the area of police organisation, control and police management. The Interpol calendar of annual conferences and training is much narrow profession-wise, the majority of topics are dedicated to the investigation of various forms of crime (Calendar of meetings and Conferences, 1996).

A superficial excursion through police professional literature could bring us to the conclusion that the American police deals mostly with the problems of police leadership, police management, police strategy and prevention in local communities (Goldstein, 1990; Couoper, Lobnitz, 1993; Moriarty, Field, 1994; Bailey, 1994); while on the other side it appears that the West European police forces are searching mostly for new ways of better international police co-operation (Schengen, Trevi, Europol, bilateral agreements; Friedl, 1992; Pitschas, 1992; Holyst, 1994; Stumper, 1996). Because of more and more accentuated preventive orientation, the police forces of both continents are trying to develop the methods of foreseeing the security relevant events, which could facilitate their work (Pečar, 1994). Often we can find in the police professional literature the notion "on necessity of police changes". This notion means in the West the changes of police management and of their relations with public, while in the Eastern police activities this means the changes carried out after the Western model which of course mean the police forces as we already know them on the West.

If we consider the cited starting points for the comparison, we will pretty soon find the conclusion that we have made a further step with the transfer of knowledge and experiences from the West through the transfer of skills from the area of police operative work ( learning about new forms of crime, new tactics, international police co-operation). However, it is still true that some of the areas of police work remained uncovered or are less covered in relation with the transfer of foreign skills. Expressed otherwise: in certain areas our own knowledge could not be compared with the Western one. We'll hereinafter try to explain some of the reasons for such situation.


We believe that there are two types of obstacles hindering a quicker and more qualitative transfer of knowledge and experience, due to which Slovenian police lags behind the West. In the first place we must cite some domestic obstacles. It is a known fact that the Slovenian police had a bureaucratic leadership before the change of the social system. It also had no major problems with financing through budget. These new conditions have somehow emptied the bureaucratic system of leadership, however new problems appeared, regarding the financing of police activities. Police got some new tasks, new private security agencies appeared. To this we must add also the lack of legal bases regarding the police work in these changed conditions. The introduction of police management, which would be able to manage the cited material and personnel potentials, has shown itself as the most adequate answer to these changed conditions. It is impossible to get the police managers on the labour market, at least not in Slovenia, which means we would have to train them out of our own ranks. Unfortunately, no police chief had a chance to participate at such courses abroad in the past few years. We think here not only of the operative police chiefs but also of the chiefs, dealing with police logistics. We believe that this is one of the basic reasons for frequent tensions between logistic and operative services, which might get even tougher in the future. Thorough changes of thinking will have to be done to enable the training in this area of interest. There is also no firm ground for the belief that all such training must be carried out at home. It is impossible to cover this deficiency with only one short seminar per year. This can also explain the fact that the Slovenian police does not fall behind the European police forces in some already mentioned areas of activities ( technique, tactics of police work) but it falls behind in other areas.

It must be taken in consideration that the Western European countries stimulate the transfer of knowledge and experience in the field of security not just because of any kind of mere collegiality, but because they want to protect their own interests (Friedl, 1992). This is also the reason that the fields of police tactics, techniques and informatics are in the forefront of their offers for co-operation with the Central and Eastern European countries. The main initiators for the transfer of knowledge and experience in the areas of police management, organisation and leadership should be the police chiefs themselves (Peak, 1994).

However, it must be stressed out that certain objective reasons exist for the lag in this area, these reasons are most probably encountered also by police forces from East European countries. The non-existence of legal regulations (police law, traffic safety law, civil servants act, etc.) and other executive acts create a condition, in which the police chiefs must constantly solve some unexpected conflict situations. This then diverts them from the seeking of solutions of system's problems and from their own personal changes. The relative smallness of Slovenia is of no advantage in such a case. There are very few police chiefs with long-term experiences. On the other side it does not represents any obstacle for the fact that they changed four top chiefs form the uniformed and plain-clothes police in the past five years.

Foreign experiences and skills are available to us in this areas as well, at least this could be deducted from foreign training programmes. However, our experiences have shown that everything in connection with the transfer or exchange of knowledge, offered by the West, can not be used by the Slovenian police. Various programmes of training and professional meetings, intended to approach the police activities in the Eastern European countries to the Western European countries, are so general and shallow that they do not bring anything new to Slovenian police. This is the same for some programmes financed by the European Union as for some programmes offered by police. Our police therefore does not participate at certain training, however it tries to appear as the organiser of training in the fields it is interested for. It has thus established closer contacts with the American services FBI and DEA, which are ready to offer free of charge various experts for the implementation of programmes. We have recently organised in Slovenia some specialised seminars covering the area of economic crime and money laundry and modern tactics of investigation of illicit drug trafficking; we intend to organise also a training for the area of prevention of terrorism.

However, even such training hide certain traps. The American police practice can't always be compared with the European one. We try to evade these traps by inviting also the West European experts to take part at these programmes. It seems that the FBI itself is aware of this since it tries to include in its programmes, organised for East and central European police forces, also as many as possible police experts from West Europe.

The incorporation of Slovenia into European integrations is its primary tasks, which has to be taken in consideration also by the Slovenian police in its strategic planning. Its organisation, legal bases for work, technology used and its tactics must be as much as possible compatible with the West European ones. the transfer and the exchange of knowledge must not be looked at only as from the point of view of input/output but specially from the point of view of usefulness in the future (more) united Europe.

At the end we may get back to the title, describing the usefulness of foreign experience and knowledge from the point of view of Slovenian police, and we may make a conclusion: Slovenian police has already transferred a lot of useful things into its activities, specially in the area of police techniques and informatics, in the field of police tactics it also does not lag far behind the West, which makes her an interesting country for an exchange with West and with East. Because of this it often happens that the knowledge and experience offered by police and other institutions to Slovenian and other Eastern European countries are of no use for us. The reasons for our lag on some areas are both of the objective and subjective nature. Among the objective ones we can include the lack of legal grounds for better work and organisation as well as unclear relations about the (new) role of police in the society; while the subjective reasons include the lack of perception of police chiefs for the necessity of the introduction of management and other personnel - organisational skills into police activities.

Table of Contents | Constitution of Police-Security Science

The HTML conversion of this chapter was supported by the
National Institute of Justice/
National Criminal Justice Reference Service
Washington, D.C.