Nations are sharing ways to accomplish the goals of community policing.
By Selena Petrovic and Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Zagreb and Belgrade -- 02/09/14
Croatian police use community policing to increase their effectiveness in reducing crime and serving citizens. [Nada Bozic/SETimes]
Balkan police forces are introducing EU norms and practices in their work, leading to more accountable and transparent police forces, experts said.
Increasing operational capacity with less staff is the challenge facing the Balkans, said Peter Stano, spokesperson for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule.
"All countries in the region have double the number of policemen per 100,000 inhabitants than the EU average, and they still feel they do not have not enough," Stano told SETimes.
Stano added that countries need to address the issue by introducing modern management techniques, organisational rationalisation and by strengthening co-operation and co-ordination.
"Also, a more human rights-based approach and focusing on prevention of crime is needed as part of a more general reform of the police," he said. EU member Croatia has actively assisted its neighbours through the Partnership for Education programme -- now in its second year -- via police delegations' visits to training sessions on computer crime and electronic evidence, human trafficking and management and strategic planning.
A Serbia police delegation visited their counterparts in Croatia, where they were instructed on EU requirements faced by the interior ministry to fulfil accession chapter 24 on justice, freedom, and security.
During its pre-accession period, Croatia introduced international and EU standards and practices to make its police more effective in addressing organised crime and corruption, said Michele Cercone, spokesperson for European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom.
"As a result, a track record of cases of organised crime and corruption has developed in the country," Cercone told SETimes.
Similarly, the Montenegro police force is also adopting EU practices and is reorganising how it conducts law enforcement tasks while modernising its resources.
Officials said Montenegro strives to establish closer involvement and communication with citizens by implementing modern community policing.
The police have also instituted sensitivity training for police officers, including about the lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
"A number of police officers have passed training for work with sexual minorities, and now each security centre in Montenegro has one LGBT police officer for contact. It is important to mention that two pride parades were held in Montenegro last year," the Montenegrin police told SETimes in a statement.
Officials said demilitarising border security was one of the conditions for launching the country's EU accession, and the police fulfilled this by taking over the military's border duties.
Croatia officials said joint border controls with Slovenia and Hungary -- one of the main benefits of its EU membership -- has eased passenger and vehicle flow and increased overall efficiency while reducing expenses.
Montenegro is working to conduct an internal reorganisation based on action plans adopted last October, setting a clear road map for alignment with EU standards to deal more effectively with the most serious organised crimes, according to the EU delegation to Montenegro.
"Additional measures are required to increase co-operation between the police and the prosecution, including intelligence sharing," the EU delegation told SETimes in a statement.
What can the Balkan countries do to integrate EU policing standards and practices? Share your opinion in the comments section.