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


T. B. Frost

This seeks to be a practical paper which advances the case for international co-operation in police training. Open borders, ease of travel and speed of communication are accepted features of modern life. The advantages are obvious. At the same time, however, they bring greater opportunities for criminal activity. The police services of our countries need to work even more closely to combat the threat to democratic and economic stability posed by international crime.

The Police Staff College, Bramshill has been involved in international training and development for senior police officers for many years. The paper describes some of Bramshill's activities. it also traces the formation of the Association of European Police Colleges.

Drawing upon experiences thus far there is optimism that by greater international police understanding, the quality of life for all of our citizens can be enhanced.

One of our most distinguished police leaders in the United Kingdom, Sir Robert MARK, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police between 1972 and 1977 once said to a police audience "the police function to which you and I are dedicated is perhaps one of the most worthwhile and noble functions in a free society. For you and I have this in common that we represent Government by consent."1

This statement, I suggest, is crucial to the philosophy of policing that has evolved in Western Europe over the last fifty years. We police with the support of the over whelming majority of our public. If we did not enjoy that support our methods of policing would be of a very different character and we would need a type of police service which many of us would not recognise, and would not wish to represent.

Policing is a very complex activity in today's liberal, democratic society. It requires great sensitivity, intellect, strength of character, courage, but perhaps above all a very real desire to serve our communities in the interest of all. The over riding rationale for police is that they should improve the quality of life for our citizens, acting fairly, firmly where necessary, but equally having a clear sense of discretion to recognise when informal enforcement by advice or caution is more appropriate than arrest or prosecution. Always we must act with compassion and in compliance with the highest possible ethical standards.

Training is of paramount importance in this complex process. It is not an end in itself. Training must only be a means by which the quality of policing offered to our public is of the highest standard. If training does not actually impact upon how police and the public interact then we must question whether the training is relevant. Training must focus upon what police do, and how they can do it better. In this context, of course, it needs to take account of what our public expects and of the problems facing policing. It is some of those issues and problems which would benefit from international cooperation in training and which I would now like to address.

The development of free markets and the removal of travel restrictions, particularly throughout Europe, pose threats from organised criminals which require a determined and coordinated response. These activities, if unchecked, can threaten the very future of democracy.

Organised crime therefore, must be a major priority for training. The development of Europol is welcomed and should provide very real operational benefits for member states and supplement the work that Interpol does. We do need, however, on a regular and coordinated basis, to provide training opportunities for our investigators and our intelligence operators to learn from each other by sharing experience and information. The international criminal is both intelligent and sophisticated. Often he, or she, will be supported by an intricate organisation which makes detection difficult, deliberately so. Trafficking in drugs, antiques, works of arts, arms and counterfeit goods, together with money laundering and white collar crime in general are criminal activities which affect, I suggest, everyone of our nations.

Recent research 2 in the United Kingdom illustrates our problems, which stem from drug abuse. Six per cent of the population, three million people, admitted to having used an illegal substance. Twenty eight per cent of the sixteen to nineteen year olds had used such a substance. One in seven of fourteen and fifteen year olds admitted some substance abuse. The research suggested that twenty five per cent of all burglaries and thefts were committed by drug users to pay for their habits. Other authoritative sources attribute one half of all reported crime to be drug related. Seizures of illegal drugs rise annually, but all the indicators are that drug abuse continues inexorably to increase. Effective drugs enforcement must take place on an international, if not a global scale. No country can deal with the vast problems alone.

Terrorism leaves few countries untouched. If not actually experiencing terrorist atrocities, countries may be exploited by terror groups who use a particular country to buy arms, to launder funds or to lie low before perpetrating further crimes. Whilst some of these groups proclaim to be waging a political campaign they are criminals, who need to be pursued relentlessly and brought to justice.

Human rights, human dignity are features of a free society. Police training in all nations should embrace the standards and values essential to safeguarding human rights. The increased mobility of labour, the migration of people, the greater opportunities for leisure travel, not to mention, the increased activities of international criminals demand the highest standards of behaviour and respect for the individual from police officers throughout all of our police services. Once more, shared experience, and common training, could do much to ensure that this IS the reality.

Closely connected to the whole question of human rights are the issues of racial

discrimination and equal opportunities. Ensuring that there is no discrimination against minority groups is absolutely essential in a police service. We, police officers, are the most visible part of a criminal justice system which must be seen to be wholly impartial and fair to all, whatever their origins, whatever their backgrounds. At the same time our police organisations must demonstrate unequivocally equality of opportunity for all of our people.

Another area of priority, I would like to suggest, is the whole concept of police leadership and management. Of course structures and organisations vary between our countries, but the basic tenets of leadership and the theories of management are truly international. There are similarities to be drawn between police and business, or industry, with principles which are mutually transferable. There is much to be gained by our police leaders and managers having opportunities to observe at first hand how commercial institutions organise and operate. At the same time there are specific needs for police officers which can benefit considerably by bringing our senior and middle ranking officers together. Goal setting, business planning, the management of change, total quality management and performance measurement are terms, I suspect, familiar to all senior police officers in each of our countries today. Once more, I believe we could valuably learn from each other in the pursuit of best practice, in the interests of better policing. I make no apology for continually returning to that objective. A rather simple phrase but it is as well to constantly remind ourselves that that is what we are about in police training.

A final thought on priorities and opportunities for cooperation - many of our countries are actively engaged in providing police training on an international basis, notably in Eastern Europe. This is exciting and worthwhile but would it be more economical and effective if we were to collaborate and coordinate our activities to avoid duplication of effort and to ensure that there is a common approach? I pose the 'question' knowing that perhaps the answers are rather more difficult. I realise that there are political and commercial influences at play here but from a police officer's view point, much could be achieved by joint initiatives.

Of course there are differences between our criminal justice systems and in our governing legislation. Equally there is diversity in our policing systems and structures and not just between individual countries but between law enforcement agencies within the same country. These organisational difficulties do obstruct the ease of cooperation that we would wish to see. There is a willingness nevertheless, to pursue closer cooperation throughout European law enforcement. Policing is a sovereign issue for each state and there is no likelihood of change. We are aware however, of the considerable progress that has been made already to join together to deal with specific international policing problems but there is more still to be done. The climate of cooperation encouraged by the Maastricht Treaty has been taken forward with the creation of the Association of European Police Colleges which already consists of 14 colleges of higher police training. This is the beginning of what we hope will extend to all the European police colleges. The Association came about as a result of an agreement in January 1995 between the National Director of Police Training in the UK, the President of the Polizei Fnhrungsakademie in Mnnster and the Director of LSOP in the Netherlands.

The intentions are twofold. First, to arrange where appropriate joint training for senior police officers on matters of mutual concern and relevance. Secondly, to exchange information and maintain contact on appropriate areas of training and development.

The establishment of the AEPC could provide a single point of contact for all European Police Training issues. It would maximise co-operation and co-ordination in relation to Police

training between member colleges. Best practice and research could be shared with the intention of the most efficient and effective use or resources. In particular it is hoped to focus upon providing training assistance to Eastern Europe by means of joint training programmes wherever appropriate and in collaboration with the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Budapest when relevant.

Whilst traditionally there have been exchanges between our institutions and our police forces for training purposes they could benefit by being more structured.

The AEPC can focus upon issues which are of international concern and identify training needs which can be better satisfied by a multi-national approach. The first such venture was the seminar held in The Hague on Racism and Xenophobia in the Autumn of 1995. We intend to produce an annual calendar of courses and training opportunities which will demonstrate the value of states working together to combat cross-border crime.

Our Senior Command Courses could beneficially seek to coincide in terms of timetable so that visits to each others institutions are coordinated and derive maximum benefit from opportunities for students to work alongside each other in our respective countries. The more contact that we can create between our senior police officers, the greater the levels of understanding of our respective criminal justice and policing systems. Cooperation in operational matters will be enhanced and our mutual goal, that of improving the quality of policing for our public, will be addressed.

At the Police Staff College, Bramshill we offer training for senior officers from throughout the WORLD but with particular links with the rest of Europe. Two specific examples are the English Police Studies Course and the European Senior Detectives' Course. The aim of the former course is to provide participants with an opportunity to improve their English language skills and to gain an awareness of Policing in the United Kingdom. The course lasts 4 weeks and is for senior officers. After the course the participants will have:

The European Senior Detectives' Course is also of 4 weeks duration and aims to provide an opportunity for participants to improve their English language skills, to gain an awareness of policing in the United Kingdom and to further the knowledge and expertise essential to the management of major crime. At the completion of the course, participants should have:

These are examples of the value of police training co-operation. All of which, to return to my earlier point, must be about improving the quality of policing for our citizens.

Another illustration of how training is seen as an opportunity for bringing police officers closer together throughout the WORLD is the INTERPOL SYMPOSIUM FOR POLICE TRAINING. The Executive Committee of Interpol decided that a symposium for Heads of Police Colleges should be held every two years. This year, 1996, this will take place in LYON at Interpol Headquarters in December. At Bramshill we have been involved in the preparations and have been anxious to ensure that it is an opportunity for delegates to share best practice in training matters whilst focusing upon issues of current international concern to operational police officers. In other words to return to my theme, to provide training which improves the quality of policing.

This year therefore the Symposium will examine "CROSS BORDER AND ORGANISED CRIME". The agenda will seek to examine such issues as organised crime, crime analysis, racism and xenophobia, financial crime and money laundering. From our debates and discussions we should identity the training implications and seek to provide high quality programmes to enable our investigators to be skilled and able to respond to these threats to the stability of democracy and commerce.

Indeed, perhaps in the future rather than physical exchanges we can share our expertise and our training by means of the computer. We are in the age of electronic information. The existence of on line computer networks is transforming our lives. It will change policing. Internet enables information to be transferred any where in the world at the press of a button. I understand that from around one million users in 1988 there are twenty three million today and Internet is growing dramatically fast, at ten per cent per month. The opportunities for international police training and police operations are enormous. In considering the way forward and whilst recognising physical interaction in training is invaluable, much can be achieved through distance learning with the latest technology exploited to the full. One day we may have compatible, easily accessible, computer systems in our training colleges and in our police stations, we can but hope!

If we look at what NATO has achieved for the peace in Europe over the past fifty years, in a military sense, we may draw some parallels for crime control and a greater protection of our societies. After a lifetime in policing I am not so naVve as to believe that we could prevent all crime or put right all those social ills, which are outside of the control of the police in any event, but which may influence criminality or lawlessness. I do believe most firmly that the quality of policing generally can be improved and international organised crime tackled more effectively if we cooperate closely in research, planning and in the delivery of our training programmes.


  1. In the office of Constable Robert Mark, published by Collins 1978
  2. Drug misuse declared; Results of the 1994 British Crime Survey: Home Office Research Study 151 and Tackling Drugs Together - A strategy for England 1995 - 1998, HMSO London.

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