“For a police service to be built on democratic principles, it needs to be predictable and reliable”
It turns out that Menno van Bruggen, a police superintendent from the Netherlands seconded at EUPOL COPPS, in addition to being a very experienced police adviser, is also a great admirer of Toyota cars. He attributes the success of the company to the fact that a participative culture is encouraged. “Anyone in the company with a good idea – even if it’s just someone working on the production line - is encouraged to contribute. The culture is that everyone can help make a better and reliable car. I used to work in Afghanistan, where a large majority of the cars are Toyotas because they cope well with the road and weather conditions – that’s a real sign of reliability”. This culture of participation is one that van Bruggen encourages for law enforcement agencies. “When, as an organisation, you involve people to make a strategy, it becomes a better strategy. You have to stimulate people to get involved. If you don’t get people involved in a plan, then it won’t work”. There are three areas that van Bruggen is currently advising on, alongside other EUPOL COPPS colleagues. One is the development of human resources, another is district coordination – i.e. ensuring that there are ways to ensure that decisions taken by the Palestinian Civil Police are implemented at a district level. The third however, brings together all the other aspects of his work and is a subject that he is passionate about – strategic planning. “The company Philips used to have the tagline ’Sense and Simplicity’– but actually this is equally relevant for a police service. In police work you want to make sure that everything is as simple and reliable as possible. For a police service to be built on democratic principles, it needs to be predictable and reliable”. The Dutch police superintendent gives some examples from his experiences in the Netherlands to illustrate his point. “In the Dutch police we have moments where we organise meetings with the public. Elected representatives, such as mayors, are particularly important because they are the democratic representatives. We do research into satisfaction with the police, so we are aware of what people think of our work. We measure safety, for example how safe people feel when they are walking at night. We provide statistics on crime, but it’s also really important how safe people feel, not just the numbers”. “We also look into local statistics,” van Bruggen continues. “Are there some crimes that are higher than others in certain areas? Why might that be?” When the police in the Netherlands have gathered the data they need, they involve selected stakeholders to help formulate the strategy for combatting crime and keeping the public safe. According to van Bruggen, it takes at least a year to draw up a strategy for a five-year period. Moreover, the five-year strategy is periodically monitored and evaluated during its implementation period. Van Bruggen points to community policing officers within the Dutch Police as being key in the gathering of information that is relevant to the fight against crime in their area. “The community police officer should know what is happening in his or her area. As a citizen, you should be able to walk up to him or her and talk about problems – and the police officer should also know what to do with the input. This has been particularly important during the pandemic – the police have to stay in touch with social services and psychological services. You have to adopt a holistic approach”. In order to support the PCP with a more participative approach to strategic planning, van Bruggen has been working with colleagues and international partners on workshops that involve Palestinian community representatives. He is very glad that the PCP’s draft five-year strategy for 2022 – 2027 pays particular attention to human rights and gender issues. “Only around 4% of Palestinian police officers are women,” he says. “This has to change”. Unsurprisingly, given that he advises a holistic approach to strategic planning, van Bruggen is sharing information and working with other international donors to support the PCP. “We can do a lot when we do it together,” he concludes.
EUPOL COPPS supports Palestinian partners to address delays in justice system
EUPOL COPPS organised a workshop on 6 April with representatives of the Palestinian criminal justice system from the High Judicial Council, Ministry of Justice and the Palestinian Civil Police in order to identify the root causes behind delays to the judicial process and discuss ways to reduce the backlog of cases. “The right to a Fair Trial is one of the most prominent foundations of criminal justice and ensuring an effective legal process by reducing delays and case back logs is an important part of that,” said EUPOL COPPS Head of Mission Nataliya Apostolova, who delivered opening remarks at the start of the workshop. “The Palestinian people have the right to fair processes by competent, independent and impartial courts governed by law and to expect their cases to be efficiently and expediently treated. This is crucial to gain trust and accountability from citizens,” she continued. The workshop took place within the framework of the Fair Trial Working Group – a multi-agency network of Palestinian experts working together with EUPOL COPPS advisers to advance the right to a fair trial. Addressing weaknesses in the rule of law system is a core objective in EUPOL COPPS’s work, and is a crucial element for Palestinian justice institutions to enhance trust and accountability with the Palestinian general public. The meeting on 6 April will be followed up in May with proposals of concrete measures to address the causes of delays in the judicial system. The group will also work on an implementation plan to put these measures into action.
“Communication and cooperation are key to solving crimes”
Hillevi Johansson is a Swedish Police Superintendent, who advises the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) on criminal investigations. She enrolled in the Swedish Police Academy in January 1978, and over a long police career has spent over two decades specialised in investigations, leading large teams of police officers and specialists. Her role at EUPOL COPPS involves providing advice and support for the PCP to help make police investigations more effective. Having previously worked in international missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Liberia, Johansson isn’t fazed by many challenges, instead focusing on promoting small, but important changes that might improve police operations. Johansson believes that communication between different police departments, prosecutors, local authorities and the public is one of the most important elements for investigation teams. “Communication and cooperation are key to solving crimes,” she says. “Under the umbrella of a Criminal Investigations Department, you’ll have different areas – for example anti-narcotics, domestic and family violence, cybercrime, intelligence-led policing. They need to talk to each other”. The Swedish expert underlines the importance for the police of building trusting relationships with local communities. “Investigators should have a close relationship with their colleagues working on community policing issues. Community policing officers are the ones with the contacts of social workers, local business and religious leaders, regular citizens – everyone that an investigator needs to talk to when trying to solve a crime. I have worked on community policing issues myself, I know how important it is to inform colleagues about what I know”. With regard to the way in which investigations are conducted, Johansson notes that in her experience having one lead police investigator cooperating with one prosecutor is more effective than having too many people taking responsibility for one case. She argues for clearer lines of responsibility within investigations departments, as well as fewer hierarchical divisions, as well as more power for investigators and prosecutors to take decisions. Expanding women’s participation in police services is a subject that is very close to Johansson’s heart. While working in Liberia, she mentored over 100 young women to prepare them to apply for the police academy. “93% of the group managed to pass the exam for the police academy. I treasure the letters I received afterwards. Most of the young women were from outside Monrovia [the capital of Liberia], so as well as mentoring, we also had to support them with practical elements like finding somewhere to stay while preparing for the exam. It was a special experience, and I feel we really helped make a difference”. Johansson encourages greater participation of women in police services in the West Bank as well. “I would like to see more female police officers,” she says. “I’m a strong believer in that the police force should reflect the society they serve. That’s why I believe It’s important to deploy more female police officers to increase the trust of between police and citizens.”. After participating in a tour of the West Bank’s 11 police districts in order to produce an analysis of the PCP’s needs, the Swedish expert was impressed with the commitment of the police officers she met. “Even though the political situation is complicated, even though they lack equipment, you can see that they are engaged. Even if the officers lack something, they’ll try and find a way around any problem. They are dedicated police officers”. With the commitment of officers in the PCP, Johansson believes that a few structural changes, such as better communication and cooperation between departments and a reorganisation of responsibilities will make a decisive difference. And while she is deployed at EUPOL COPPS, she will do her best to support her Palestinian counterparts make those changes happen.
“If you are going to the police, you need to feel safe”
Leanne Butler, from Canada’s Prince Edward Island, has over three decades of experience in police work investigating child abuse and domestic violence. As part of an agreement Canada has with the EU, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sends highly qualified police advisers to EUPOL COPPS in order to support the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP). In Butler’s case, this involves working with the PCP’s Family Protection Unit in order to boost capacity in the fight against abuse which takes place within the home. “I am very honoured to be working with Colonel Wafa Muammar, who leads the Family Protection Unit, and her team,” says the Canadian expert. “They really care about the victims, and are doing their best, even though they face a lot of challenges. As part of my work, I have travelled to different police districts across the West Bank. I met police officers who hadn’t been paid for months [as a result of financial pressures facing the Palestinian Authority]. Whatever the difficulties, they still carry out their work to prevent and investigate domestic violence. This makes you realise how committed they are”. Butler is open about the issues facing her Palestinian colleagues working in the Family Protection Unit. “Gender-based and domestic violence are ongoing problems and the Covid-19 pandemic has made the situation families in abusive situations face even more challenging. The needs of the Family Protection Unit are ever changing – for example, cybercrime is an increasing problem and they need training in how to adapt to new technologies”. “The PCP has also asked for support in how to interview people who have been victims of domestic violence,” Butler continues. “If you are going to the police, you need to feel safe, and the way that an interview is conducted is important in creating a safe environment, and also for collecting evidence that can be used by prosecutors”. As well as training, the needs assessment that Butler carried out also identified that improvements to infrastructure would also make an important difference. “Most police stations lack a private room where evidence can be recorded in a way that is comfortable for people who have been through a traumatic experience. Partnering Organizations were found to support the building of infrastructure and we are looking at how we can refurbish spaces where interviews can take place in a way that is sensitive to the needs of victims”. Another issue that Butler noted while visiting police stations across the West Bank was a lack of female restrooms. This obliges victims as well as female police officers to use other facilities, such as those in nearby cafes. “Having facilities for women is an important part of making spaces inclusive for female Palestinians”. A positive development in the fight against domestic violence is was set up a few years ago of a ‘one-stop shop’ in Ramallah that victims can turn to. Butler hopes that such services might be available across the West Bank. “In Prince Edward Island, we want our support for women to be inclusive – we don’t just investigate, we try to make sure they have some sort of safety plan and support, including the possibility of court orders to restrict the ability of abusers to contact their victims or access the family home. Victims need different kinds of support and it’s good for them to get it in one place”. The recent establishment of a telephone hotline that victims of domestic violence can call in order to speak to specialists is an important step forward for the PCP. The service is currently only available in the Ramallah district, but the PCP is expanding the reach of the hotline, including with EUPOL COPPS support. Butler will soon leave EUPOL COPPS to return to policing duty in Canada, but her replacement will also be a Canadian woman. “I think the PCP’s Family Protection Unit is special and so I’m glad that another Canadian will have the opportunity to work with them. As well as working with the Family Protection Unit, one of the best parts of my time at EUPOL COPPS has been working with people from other countries. Different police forces from around Europe do things in slightly different ways, and you can always learn something from other approaches”.