A more efficient and well-organized police force increases the chances of solving crimes and creating a legally secure state. For Serbia, a reform of the police force is also necessary to meet the requirements for EU membership. For many years, Swedish police has collaborated with their Serbian colleagues to help them establish an intelligence-led policing with modern forensics.
Fingerprints, DNA or blood traces are examples of evidence that could help police solve a crime. But equally important is an intelligence-led policing based on a holistic approach and a variety of information sources. Improving the forensic science can be done in various ways, but when it comes to developing the intelligence-led policing in Serbia, cooperating with a police force in a different country has been key. This is the opinion of Dražen Maravić, project coordinator at the Serbian Ministry of Interior.
"It is a huge task to develop a completely new model for our police work, but we have received great support from the Swedish police. They have not just come here to deliver a ready solution that we have to implement but rather presented the Swedish model, which we have analysed together and then come up with suggestions on what might work for us in Serbia," says Dražen Maravić.
A wished-for EU membership is an important incentive for reform, since the EU chapters on judiciary and police matters must be fully negotiated before a membership can be considered. An adaptation to EU rules for forensics means e.g. that a man charged with murder in Serbia could also be sentenced for previous theft crimes in Sweden, with the court accepting Swedish evidence. This is currently not the case.
EU moreover demands that the intelligence-led operations follow a uniform standard*, so that intelligence from other countries is accepted and that evidence is collected in a humane and proper manner.
For Serbia's police officers, a reform would mean a complete change of attitude and approach says Drazen Maravic and takes an example with violent football hooligans. Instead of just seeing to the crimes of violence committed by the hooligans, the investigator could contact the Border Police, and see that they have visited Turkey, and criminal police who knows that they have met with drug dealers. This may ultimately contribute to the bigger picture of two hooligans who also sells drugs to football supporters.
Swedish police have cooperated with their Serbian colleagues for many years, but the current programme runs between 2012 and 2014. Hans Järvestam from the Swedish Police is working as advisor to the Serbian Ministry of Interior and he has many years of experience in similar assignments.
"Time is an important aspect in this type of collaboration, it takes at least a year before you have built up the confidence needed to come and suggest how another country's government should work. The fact that Sweden and Serbia are almost the same size also makes it easier to apply our model in their country," says Hans Järvestam.
The development project consists of three components. In addition to forensics – with a new modern training facility at the Police Academy in Belgrade – and intelligence-led policing ¬– which includes training, new methods and a unique database – support to business development is another important component. Sweden supports Serbia's Ministry of Interior with the development and implementation of a strategic business plan to reform the police.
Intelligence-led policing is about knowing what to achieve and how, in order to work as efficiently as possible. If such an approach is to permeate the entire organization, every police officer needs to be involved and able to see how they contribute to achieving the objectives. This is a great challenge for the Serbian police officers who have previously focused on reporting activities. When Dražen Maravić and his colleagues visited their colleagues in Stockholm, they were impressed by the Swedish approach:
"Sweden has a relaxed but very professional police force. There seems to be a very short distance between police officers and their managers, and the police chiefs also seem very self-confident that all individuals are carrying out the work needed to achieve set results. This is something we will work on at home," he adds.
A five-year plan has been developed and launched a year ago with the help of the Swedish police's frequent mentorship. But changing an agency's entire organisation is a large task believe Hans Järvestam:
"Making plans is one thing, but implementing them is difficult. New processes and structure would mean a change of power positions, which could be challenging in a more hierarchical organisation."
Gender issue all through
The gender aspect has also permeated the entire Swedish-funded project. A large majority of the managers in Serbia's police force are men. Up until the 90s, women were not welcome to the country's police academy. Many competent women have joined the police since the admission rules changed but they are still missing in the top layer.
"We have implemented several courses with managers, where we highlight the international conventions on gender equality and demonstrate the importance of promoting women to get a good services. This worked as a major eye opener that made them aware of the problem," says Hans Järvestam.
About the Police Reform Programme
The programme is a collaboration between the Serbian Ministry of Interior and the Swedish National Police Board. Sida finances the operation with 4.5 million euros. Programme period: 2012-1014. The programme will support the Ministry of Interior's on-going police reform and includes three components:
1) strategic support to the implementation of the Ministry of Interior’s Development Strategy 2011-2016 and Action Plan.
2) establishment of a national forensic training facility
3) establishment of a system for intelligence-led policing.
Examples of results achieved:
- The Ministry of Interiors (MoI) first Development Strategy for 2011-2016 has been adopted, together with the first biannual Action plan for its implementation.
- Achieved awareness on result based management in policing.
- The first version of the manual on intelligence-led policing has been developed (the ILP handbook.)
- Pilot projects in intelligence-led policing have been carried out in the cities Novi Sad and Kraljevo where 10 senior managers in the police management have received basic training on intelligence-led policing (ILP).
- Commenced construction of modern training laboratory at the Police Academy in Belgrade.
- Curriculum for new crime scene courses developed and approved by the Ministry of Interior.
- A practical manual for the collection and study of biological traces andshoe prints has been produced.
For more detailed results, see the document Conclusions on performance.
* In accordance with EU law enforcement agency Europol.