“You want all criminals behind bars. But sometimes you have to go a longer route so you don’t violate human rights”
Some years ago in central Sweden, a horse owner reported to the police that thieves had broken into his barn and stolen some expensive saddles. Then another owner reported the same thing. Slowly, but surely, it became clear that these weren’t isolated incidents, but part of a pattern. Johan Ekstam, head of a local Intelligence Led Policing section set to work trying to identify if there were any traits these crimes had in common. “We understood that this was a gang who were specialised in stealing saddles. And we tried to establish a pattern. We identified where the thefts took place and at what time it was most likely and also looked at what kind of traffic was in the area. We were particularly interested to see what kind of traffic operated at night. The community policing team, whose job it is to maintain close links with the community were able to provide advice on movements, especially from nearby petrol stations. We decided to set up some patrols at night, on days like Monday and Tuesday which were days when we believed this gang operated. And then, one night a patrol received a tip off from a local farmer, which was in line with information from a neighbouring district and the customs authority. We caught the gang”. Ekstam is now deployed at EUPOL COPPS as a Senior Police Adviser on Intelligence Led Policing. He brings to Ramallah his long experience in gathering pieces of information to build up a picture of criminality that will lead to criminals being brought to justice. “Information and intelligence are key factors in creating a competitive advantage, in law enforcement like in business. Information, knowledge and intelligence increases the effectiveness of the police in dealing with crime”. “Intelligence Led Policing contributes to optimising police work,” the adviser from central Sweden continues. “It should flow through the whole organisation – ideally, police officers see things and then feed it to analysts who can make links and identify what the problems are and then flag it to management, who can make a plan for operational action. Especially when you have limited resources, it’s important to have clever thinking. It also allows for a more proactive approach to fighting crime”. Ekstam underlines however that intelligence gathering needs to be done in a way that respects the human rights of citizens. “You need an appropriate framework that complies with international human rights standards and data protection. There should be laws that take care of what you can enter in your intelligence gathering system and what you can’t. Employees who are working with intelligence must know what they are allowed to do and what they are not to. They must know data protection law by heart. Everyone has the right to a private life”. He also makes clear that there should be an external body with the authorisation to check how data is being used. “This is one thing we have discussed at length with our counterparts in the Palestinian Civil Police. There needs to be control over what information is gathered and protection so that no-one is harassed on the basis of their political or religious beliefs or because, for example, they are a woman. You want to be effective and put all criminals behind bars, but sometimes you have to go a longer route so you don’t violate human rights”. “Also, one of our most important things is protecting sources,” the Swedish police officer continues. “If it’s obvious to criminals who the source of information is, then the source will be targeted. You have to used the information as wisely as you can. It’s very sensitive”. The EUPOL COPPS advisers working on Intelligence Led Policing are supporting the Palestinian Civil Police to build capacity in this area. An important part is developing a training curriculum so that the different levels of the police organisation have the right skills to implement an Intelligence Led Policing approach. Within the curriculum, different training needs are identified for officers at management level or for officers in the field. A road map has also been drawn up to develop practical courses that will help to implement the overall vision outlined in the curriculum. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the ability of advisers to meet their counterparts, but Ekstam feels like progress is being made. “Last year, it sometimes felt like we were scratching at the surface of what needed to be done, but now we’re definitely moving forward”.
EUPOL COPPS delivers briefings on election security
As part of EU support for the development of democracy in the occupied Palestinian territories, briefings on election security were delivered in all 11 districts of the West Bank for senior officials and police officers. The briefings were organised as a cooperation between EUPOL COPPS, the German Representative Office to the Palestinian Territories and the Palestinian Civil Police. “During elections most public institutions, including law enforcement agencies, have a role to play,” says Philipp Bovensiepen, a Senior Police Adviser at EUPOL COPPS, who has led the Mission’s contributions to these briefings. “While law enforcement agencies have a role in maintaining security during elections, it is extremely important that they remain entirely politically impartial. Moreover, they have to exercise proportionality in carrying out their duties and not do anything that could interfere with the democratic process”. The briefings delivered in the West Bank’s districts focused on the general principles of democratic elections, the role of the police, challenges that a police service might face, operational orders and mechanisms to allow police officers to vote. The topic of communication with the public was also covered. It is hoped that these briefings will help contribute to building capacity and facilitating successful elections in the occupied Palestinian territories.
EUPOL COPPS police advisers visit Salfit to listen to challenges and provide recommendations on strategic planning and human resources
A group of three EUPOL COPPS advisers, from Canada, the Netherlands and Romania visited the city of Salfit on 26 April in order to meet the head of the police in the district as well as other key stakeholders. The meetings provided an opportunity to listen to the challenges faced by local police officers as well as propose recommendations on how to meet those challenges. “We had very productive discussions with Brigadier Mamoun Fahmawi and his team,” says Karen Ziezold, a Senior Police Adviser at EUPOL COPPS. “We are working closely with the Palestinian Civil Police throughout the West Bank on strategic planning and human resources questions, and it was very useful to find out more about the realities on the ground in Salfit”. EUPOL COPPS is supporting the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) with the development of a new national strategy for the period 2022 – 2027 and the Mission is advocating for a more collaborative approach with input from police districts and local authorities. As part of this process, EUPOL COPPS advisers are consulting with representatives of the PCP across the West Bank. The Mission is also providing advice on the development of human resources. The Mission has recommended that even with updated human resources processes there will need to be continuous evaluation of how things are running with the objective of updating and improving the overall PCP Human Resources Plan. A group of three EUPOL COPPS advisers, from Canada, the Netherlands and Romania visited the city of Salfit on 26 April in order to meet the head of the police in the district as well as other key stakeholders. The meetings provided an opportunity to listen to the challenges faced by local police officers as well as propose recommendations on how to meet those challenges. “We had very productive discussions with Brigadier Mamoun Fahmawi and his team,” says Karen Ziezold, a Senior Police Adviser at EUPOL COPPS. “We are working closely with the Palestinian Civil Police throughout the West Bank on strategic planning and human resources questions, and it was very useful to find out more about the realities on the ground in Salfit”. EUPOL COPPS is supporting the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) with the development of a new national strategy for the period 2022 – 2027 and the Mission is advocating for a more collaborative approach with input from police districts and local authorities. As part of this process, EUPOL COPPS advisers are consulting with representatives of the PCP across the West Bank. The Mission is also providing advice on the development of human resources. The Mission has recommended that even with updated human resources processes there will need to be continuous evaluation of how things are running with the objective of updating and improving the overall PCP Human Resources Plan.
“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.