16 September 2022
Posteado en : Opinion
Police officers can develop mental and physical health problems due to the traumas they face during their career. Understanding and learning how to manage stress helps to prevent, recognise or avoid misbehaviour that undermines public trust in law enforcement. How do we address mental health in law enforcement?
Valentina Salvato, project officer of the project Promoting community policing in Lebanon, co-led by the FIIAPP, reflects on the importance of paying attention to mental health in police forces and the action developed by the project through various training courses for this purpose.
Why is this approach necessary?
Being a police officer means being exposed on a daily basis to traumatic events that can endanger their own life: accidents, violence, critical situations and emergencies, natural disasters… All of these entail risks that can affect the mental health of any person. Moreover, we must take into account the current context of Lebanon, a country affected by an unprecedented severe political, economic and financial crisis and a series of traumatic events – the demonstrations of October 2019, the Beirut port explosion in August 2020 and the consequent worsening of the Covid-19 pandemic – which have had a direct impact on the lives of citizens, their behaviour, their psychological stability and their mental health.
How do we address mental health within the security forces?
From the project Support to community policing in Lebanon, we seek to shed light on the issue of mental health in the security forces: a problem that is often ignored, unknown or even rejected. However, the truth is that police officers can develop mental and physical health problems due to the traumas they face during their career. Understanding and learning to manage stress helps to prevent, recognise or avoid misbehaviour that undermines public confidence in law enforcement. As the chief inspector of the Spanish National Police and director of the project, Joaquín Plasencia García, points out, “if a police officer loses the trust of citizens, he loses everything”.
For this reason, we support the Lebanese police in order to implement a preventive and psycho-educational strategy with psychological tools and methodologies to prevent, protect and resolve possible stress situations.
Thanks to the trainings we have offered in Lebanon, such as the last one at the Internal Security Forces Academy (Aramoun), 63 police officers have received tools to prevent and deal with stress situations, conflict resolution, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anger management or emotion control. This mental health training is also an excellent form of primary prevention, as it increases the knowledge, awareness and resilience of all officers, achieving a direct impact on citizen care, as it reduces and prevents episodes of misconduct in the security forces.
By caring for the well-being of those who care for us, citizens receive better care and service.
23 September 2021
Posteado en : Entrevista
We spoke to Joaquín Plasencia García, Chief Inspector of the Spanish Policía Nacional and Team Leader of the project funded by the European Union and entitled "Promoting community policing in Lebanon". Plasencia offers his vision on the mission of the Lebanese National Police (also called Internal Security Forces) in the current context of the country. The project is managed by the FIIAPP.
We spoke to Joaquín Plasencia García, Chief Inspector of the Spanish Policía Nacional and Team Leader of the project funded by the European Union and entitled “Promoting community policing in Lebanon”. Plasencia offers his vision on the mission of the Lebanese National Police (also called Internal Security Forces) in the current context of the country. The project is managed by the FIIAPP.
What does the project aim to achieve?
The “Promoting community policing in Lebanon” project aims to introduce fundamental changes in the nature and culture of the police in Lebanon. Its main objective is to promote social cohesion through the transformation of the outdated concept of “Police Force” towards the more current and necessary concept of “Police at the Service of Citizens”. The aim of this transformation is to strengthen ties of trust and cooperation between citizens and the police, a relationship that has deteriorated during the latest political and social events that the country has been going through.
What situation is the Lebanese National Police operating in today?
The Lebanese National Police (ISF – Internal Security Forces as it is known in English) finds itself at a crossroads between the needs of the Lebanese people, the police service’s vocation to serve citizens, and the obeying of government orders.
The current situation of political, social, health and economic crisis that Lebanon is suffering increases citizens’ demands which require immediate responses and changes. The country is in an unprecedented crisis that, even for many, is worse than the one experienced during the civil war that ravaged the country between 1975 and 1990. In the face of great impoverishment, the Lebanese are left to subsist with the minimum to feed their families, secure medicine for their sick and meet their needs.
This reality is behind the increase in demonstrations in the streets, many of which have ended in violence. The recent clashes between police and protesters have left huge scars on both “sides”; on the one hand, some citizens are suffering the result of police action with arrests and injuries, but, on the other, some police officers have also ended up injured and incapacitated for days. To these physical injuries must be added the psychological and emotional burden that their duties entail, especially when they must confront family and friends at home.
ISF officers are men and women, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers of Lebanese people, who have seen how their profession, which they freely and voluntarily chose in order to “Serve and Protect”, is being decimated, and not only economically, like the rest of the country, but also as a public institution at the service of citizens. The recent demonstrations have in effect set up the police as the target of anger and frustration at the crisis and the corruption of their rulers.
How are the Lebanese police seen by the citizens? And in Spain?
The citizens do not trust national institutions and only the army enjoyed, until recently, a certain amount of their respect.
In Spain, the Sociological Research Centre (CIS) estimates that almost 55% of the population appreciates the work of the Guardia Civil and Policía Nacional. The Police, Guardia Civil and Army are one of the institutions best valued by citizens in Spain. In fact, the rise in citizen valuation reflected by the CIS seems to be endless. If, in 2013, the Cuerpo Nacional de Policía obtained a valuation of 5.65, in 2015 the Policía Nacional obtained a valuation of 5.95, while in 2016 it reached a valuation of 6.8 that leaves the valuation of previous years far behind. These positive results are only explained by the dedication to public service, professionalism and sacrifice of the Cuerpo Nacional de Policía. In the Policía Nacional in Spain the feeling of being an integral part of society is shared, not only with regards serving and protecting society, but also as regards understanding its demands and accepting constructive criticism so as to maintain, increase and never lose the trust of citizens.
What professional standards are required of members of the Lebanese internal security forces?
The professionalism of members of security forces is measured by excellence in their work, by loyalty to the institution to which they belong, and respect for the rule of law and Human Rights. But at the same time, it is also necessary to establish a special connection with citizens to offer them a quality service in the security sector.
If we have realised something over the time the FIIAPP community policing project has been underway, it is that the ISF is made up of professionals who are committed to citizens; to new and old generations that are pushing to introduce improvements in the organisation, through projects like ours that are trying to “Improve, Maintain and Never Lose the trust of citizens”.
Over the next 4 years of implementation we hope to be able to tell you about real and specific achievements resulting from our Community Policing Support Project.
18 July 2021
Posteado en : Opinion
Crisis and instability prevail in a complex time for Lebanon. We at FIIAPP are working with the country's institutions to support a local, community-friendly police model that respects human rights and the rule of law. Consuelo Navarro, coordinator of the "Promoting Community Policing in Lebanon” project and its human rights expert, Laia Castells, tell us about the current situation in the country and the progress being made in promoting cooperation despite the circumstances.
The political, economic and social crisis continues to impact on Lebanon. Indeed, owing to the cost-cutting plan launched by the Government, the prices of basic products have risen drastically, not to mention the serious electrical crisis caused by the lack of gas and oil reserves, thus keeping the country mired in an increasingly worrying economic recession.
In recent days, the national electricity company, Electricidad del Líbano (EDL), has been forced to ration service throughout the day, causing long periods of power outages. There were particularly tense moments in Beirut in the first week in July on account of the limited and irregular 4 hours of electricity a day, while in other regions, such as Tripoli, people are receiving only 2 hours’ service a day. The private electricity companies, which are replacing the state electricity service in this time of cuts, are making generators and gensets available to the public. Nonetheless, these companies are likewise suffering from the shortages of the fuel necessary to keep them operational. Indeed, they have said they will be unable to maintain the level of supply demanded for much longer unless they are given access to a greater quantity of subsidised oil or gas.
Fuel cuts are also affecting the transport sector and internal travel around the country. Long queues of cars, trucks, motorcycles and vans are commonplace at petrol stations as they seek to buy a maximum of 10 litres of petrol or gas at prices way beyond the purchasing power of a sizeable portion of the local population on account of the current level of inflation of the Lebanese pound.
These power cuts and the lack of access to transport are making it very difficult for people to carry out any type of economic, political or social activity. Tensions and social anxiety are on the rise as street demonstrations increase with each passing day.
Despite these challenges, the Project and its team continue working to plan, adapting to the situation in the country, doing everything possible to maintain the level of commitment of all stakeholders through personal visits, telephone calls and, when the electricity permits, permanent online communication between team members and their national counterparts.
This commitment is readily attested to by the holding of the first Project Steering Committee Meeting virtually on 6 July from Beirut. This Project Work Plan launch meeting brought together over 30 representatives of Lebanese institutions and the entire FIIAPP and CIVIPOL team, made up of both field and Madrid-based members. The Steering Committee unanimously approved the work plan proposed, a real success story given the current, difficult state of affairs.
Consuelo Navarro, coordinator of the Promoting Community Policing in Lebanon project
Laia Castells, human rights expert for the Promoting Community Policing in Lebanon project
06 September 2018
Posteado en : Reportage
How do you fight against drug trafficking in a coca leaf producing country? We know the case of Bolivia together with the project to support institutions in this task
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) states in its report on coca leaf crops in Bolivia that the country has more than 20,000 legal hectares. An extension concentrated on two main areas: the area of the Yungas, in the Department of La Paz; and the area of Chapare, in the Tropic of Cochabamba.
The UNODC thus provides information to the Bolivian government on the amount and geographical location of the crops, since part of the coca leaf is diverted to illicit trafficking. The Bolivian Police and other institutions involved are trying to avoid this product becoming an international drug. This report allows them to develop strategies and policies for their control.
These institutions also have the support in this task of a project managed by the FIIAPP , in coordination with the National Council for the Fight against Illicit Drug Trafficking (CONALTID), with funds from the European Union and the AECID (Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency). And the paradox is even more difficult to tackle when the coca leaf is a cultural product.
The farmer is not the trafficker
Javier Navarro is one of the experts of the project. The Spanish National Police inspector recalls that “the consumption of coca leaf is something that is deeply rooted in their customs.” In Bolivia, the product is consumed directly with the acullico (chewing the coca leaf itself with other products that sweeten it) or is used for yerba mate or sweets.
Its production is managed through cooperatives. Each registered farmer has the right to grow one cato (1,600 square metres plot) of coca. The product would reach the legal market after going through the cooperative. The problem is that not all production follows that path.
Part of the coca leaf enters “parallel circuits” and with it the base paste from which cocaine hydrochloride comes out is made. Once this substance is obtained, we speak of trafficking itself, explains the police inspector. There are also illegal crops “in border areas or areas that are difficult to access”.
None of the farmers, however, cooperate on this, they just live on it. “The producer does not have the profile of a trafficker,” says Navarro, and even if they acted unlawfully, they would be the smallest link in the entire drug trafficking chain.
Javier Navarro also points out that “Bolivia is not only a producer, but also a transit country”, mainly due to geographical issues. The base paste comes to the country from Peru, which is also a producer, to carry out the so-called “purification” in laboratories.
And he provides an important fact: “One kilo of cocaine hydrochloride costs 2,500 dollars in Bolivia. When it arrives in Spain, it costs 35,000 dollars.” Once again, Spain acts as a transit country: from here cocaine is exported to France, Italy or Great Britain with the resulting price increase. A journey that makes it a transnational problem.
What is the aim of the project?
To deal with this problem, members of the Civil Guard and the National Police work on this project with Bolivian officers in the fight against drug trafficking and related crimes, such as money laundering and human trafficking. Action is additionally taken at borders and airports.
In particular, the Special Force to Fight against Drug Trafficking is formed, specialised units spread over several areas of Bolivia. Drug trafficking is the dominant sector in organised crime. The changes in its methods of organisation and action require constant adaptation in the devices and strategies fighting this problem.
This training that has been complemented by visits to Spain to learn about the procedures of the Spanish security forces, for example, in intelligence and criminal investigation.
After two years of work, “the project is consolidated and it is the institutions themselves that come to it”, explains Javier Navarro. Among other things, the investigations have been addressed in a more comprehensive way. This is, according to the inspector, to not only stop the trafficker, but also to have the organisations dismantled.
This work is completed with the citizens’ awareness through some communication activities. The last of these, a workshop for journalists in which they worked on how to adequately communicate on such sensitive issues.
Projects for a transnational problem
Until recently, the FIIAPP managed a similar project in Peru , an example of good results with the dismantling of more than one hundred criminal organisations dedicated to illicit drug trafficking. The Foundation is also present in this operational dimension with the SEACOP project, for the fight against maritime drug trafficking.
There are also regional programmes to add to the public policies of Latin American countries. This is the case of EL PAcCTO against transnational organised crime or COPOLAD , which covers the social and health dimension.
Other projects follow the most important drug trafficking routes, such that of as heroin. EU-ACT operates in 30 countries in Central Asia, the East Coast of Africa and Eastern Europe, and works to improve the effectiveness of police and judicial bodies, as well as to prevent drug use.
23 November 2017
Posteado en : Entrevista
Mariano Simancas, Chief Commissioner and Head of the International Cooperation Division with the National Police, tells us about the challenges, results and projects in this area that the force is working on, in collaboration with FIIAPP
Guaranteeing security is one of the most important challenges at the international level. What are, in your opinion, the most relevant issues or areas for the Police to address in relation to international cooperation?
Spain maintains its interest in fighting against all forms of terrorism, organised crime and illegal immigration, as well as against related crimes: human trafficking, document forgery and money laundering. Although it is equally important to emphasise that we are part of the European Union and it is the European Police Agency (EUROPOL) which, after consulting the Member States, establishes the priorities through its reports: SOCTA and TE-SAT, the keys to establishing national policies.
In addition, the advance of jihadist terrorism has meant a substantial change in work dynamics in terms of international cooperation and the transformation of collaboration procedures.
Where do you think there is a need for projects in which the police can participate? In which areas and in which countries?
Following on from this, at present the police will be interested in participating in any cooperation project that fights against terrorism, illegal immigration, organised crime and related crimes. Right now the key region, where many of these phenomena occur, is Africa. Without forgetting what has already been undertaken in the Ibero-American region, where several successful projects have been carried out.
What are the challenges for international police cooperation?
The Treaty of Lisbon introduced an interesting perspective: the “integrated approach”, according to which the EU’s work and initiatives are no longer formulated in a closed, linear manner, they now involve different cross-cutting tasks and synergies between different actors.
This approach requires that, in police or judicial matters, other perspectives such as social or educational perspectives be observed, which will consolidate the desired stability, but it also forces us to work jointly with different bodies.
Can you highlight the results and impact of an international cooperation project on which you have worked?
We are very satisfied with the participation of the National Police in many projects, which demonstrates its excellent collaboration with FIIAPP, but I would highlight the work of AMERIPOL. What initially started as an EU sponsored project to exchange data on drug trafficking, has continued growing with the support of different countries in Ibero-America, leading to the development of the Ameripol National Units, as well as the use of SIPA (Police Information Exchange System for AMERIPOL). We expect further development and growth similar to that of EUROPOL.
The police is currently working on a wide range of challenges, such as those that affect the environment. What are your thoughts on the projects that deal with chemical and biological CBRN threats?
The European Union is showing increasing interest in environmental crime: illicit trafficking, illegal logging, arson or illicit discharges. The eighth round of mutual evaluations has started within this European framework. It will assess the extent to which Community legislation and the measures taken by the different Member States are sufficient to deal with issues related to illegal trafficking, and it will also make appropriate recommendations.
Another threat the police technicians are working to combat is drug trafficking and organised crime, what are the major advances that can be highlighted in this area thanks to international cooperation projects?
The National Police has been working intensively for many years to combat criminal groups and organisations, which has provided us with an excellent understanding of their progress towards models specialising in financial engineering and with precise transactions on the internet using new technologies. Obviously these new circumstances influence the work the police undertakes, and they make it much more focused and specialised, so that is why we have been moving in this direction lately.
The trafficking of arms and people are also global phenomena, what are the main challenges at the police level?
The policing of both of these kinds of criminal activities has political support from the highest levels of the European Union and the Spanish Directorate General of the Police.
Arms trafficking has been tackled within the Criminal Policy Cycle as an Operational Action Plan, which will cover 2018 and 2019. Spain has led this initiative and achieved some spectacular results. One example is Operation PORTU, which took place earlier this year in the province of Biscay. It resulted in the seizure of more than eight thousand firearms ready for sale to terrorists and organised crime groups.
In terms of human trafficking, the strategic objective is to minimise the damage caused by this social scourge. From the publicity campaigns, such as the one launched a few years ago “Con la trata no hay trato” (which roughly translates as zero tolerance for human trafficking), to the special focus on dismantling organisations involved in this phenomenon, in which the international cooperation component is key. I can state that it is one of the highest priorities for the police.
The police has been working with FIIAPP for almost twenty years. How would you assess FIIAPP’s work in these areas, and the collaboration between both institutions around the world?
I can only express how pleased I am with it. The collaboration between FIIAPP and the National Police has been efficiently managed for many years. This cooperation has resulted in the implementation of numerous projects: from twinnings with EU candidate countries to the management of Internal Security Fund programmes, or more recently the Trust Fund that allocates large amounts of money to projects linked to illegal immigration, mainly in Africa. In all these cases, FIIAPP has been a solid and reliable travelling companion.
I am fully aware that the management of funds is not an easy task, and in this case, the Foundation gives us the necessary support to push forward with all the international cooperation initiatives that interest us. We hope to be able to count on this support in the years ahead, and to strengthen this relationship of mutual trust that allows us to make progress in the specialisation and improvement of the service that the National Police provides.