p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } 10th Young Faces Conference - p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Police Reform and Cooperation in the Western Balkans on the Path to EU Integration

POLICY PAPER




During the last decade, the state police in Albania have been subjected to major reforms oriented towards community policing and crime prevention. As a general description the implementation of policies targeting crime prevention has been slow and problematic, despite some formal attempts to establish and develop an improved institutional framework and to ensure an integrated approach towards the crime reaction and prevention. In this respect the National Security Strategy,1 adopted in 2004, identifies institutional cooperation and exchange of relevant information as the most effective way to tackle criminal activity in Albania. The National Security Strategy attempts to define a structured reaction to organized crime by underlining the need for inter-ministerial bodies, greater information exchange between various institutions and joint initiatives and measures for fighting crime.2 In addition, a more comprehensive definition in terms of institutional obligations on crime prevention can be found in the “National Strategy of Police 2007–13.”3 This document also outlines that “...the State Police are not the only actor in the implementation of community policing practices and crime prevention.”

However, in effects of these documents remain limited. First and most importantly, these strategic documents do not have the authority and power of laws. Second, they fail to set up a reliable scheme and step-by-step methodology of “crime prevention” related to institutional cooperation. As a consequence, these key strategic documents do not include direct and accountable inter-institutional cooperation, nor do they engage local and central government structures, together with the State Police, in joint crime prevention policies.4

In contrast to the aforementioned strategic documents, the main law that currently regulates police activity – the “Law on State Police”5– does not stipulate a particular need for partnerships beyond the police structures. Furthermore, this law does not specify any legal obligations to pressure other institutional actors in order to establish partnerships with other public institutions, independent organizations and/or the community at large.6

The same seems true with regard to current legislation on the organization and function of other key public authority institutions that may be crucial players in crime prevention, such as the Ministry of Education,7 Ministry of Social Issues, Ministry of Finance, Municipalities,8 etc. Referring to the respective laws that govern these institutions, coordinated action on crime prevention – although not excluded – is not properly included. It follows from this that cooperation among the relevant institutions is largely driven by spontaneous initiatives by the institutions’ leaders, instead of by legal obligations.

Given their wide exposure to community development and needs, local governments should be seen as crucial partners in crime prevention and be included in crime prevention policies. In fact, the activities of local government institutions and state police structures are based on the same basic principle: serving the local community as well as possible. Unfortunately, so far there is no institutionalized cooperation, no joint action plans or common strategies concerning the improvement of public security in response to concrete local needs. The police are frequently unable to fulfil community expectations as their authority does not extend to the management of community life, which is under local government expertise and authority.9

The current deficiencies in the legal framework concerning institutional cooperation constitute a barrier to partnerships. Due to the incomplete legal framework and lack of working culture, public institutions are perceived as rigorous bureaucratic structures, unwilling to cooperate with other actors. In cases when cooperation takes place; there is a potential risk of overlapping competences and responsibilities of the involved actors. Such situations are frequently aggravated by conflicts caused by differences owing to the political affiliation of those involved. Initiatives of an inter-institutional nature are mostly situational and ad hoc. The measures that have been undertaken so far have largely been of an emergency nature, due to a deteriorating situation, or as a result of international pressure. The creation of committees, foreseen in the National Security Strategy, on topics such as: illegal trafficking,10 cultivation of narcotics plants,11 organized crime,12 etc., can be mentioned as examples.

In summary, the experience so far indicates a lack of engagement by public authorities in fulfilling existing legal obligations, and demonstrates a general unfamiliarity with the (incomplete) legal framework with regard to institutional cooperation.13 Currently, the burden of establishing and implementing joint crime-prevention partnerships (at the national and/or local level) is limited to specific state police departments. At the same time, the identity of potential partner institutions remains undefined and their roles, as previously mentioned, are not sufficiently specified in the strategic documents. The absence of a complete legal framework on crime prevention and inter-institutional cooperation has a direct negative impact on the largely unsatisfactory level of commitment by other public authorities and on their ability to develop and carry out long-term strategies. In this regard, the notion that crime prevention is the duty of the police is not only unproductive but unrealistic too.


Recommendations
  • Crime prevention constitutes an ongoing and long-term process that requires active engagement by various actors through measures that reduce criminality and identify the sources of crime. The involvement of the relevant state institutions in the fight against the roots of criminality requires a serious commitment by all actors concerned. Economic, social and educational aspects directly affect levels of criminality. Cooperation among related public authorities, such as the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Employment, Ministry of Education, local government, etc. remains crucial for the implementation of efficient crime prevention policies.

  • To achieve such cooperation, there is an immediate need to establish an integrated approach to crime prevention and to revise the current legal framework and key strategic documents that directly or indirectly deal with crime prevention and institutional cooperation. Such an integrated approach would create long-lasting institutional structural links among the relevant actors at the local and national levels, in order to detect, analyze and fight the sources of criminality. Although the legislation in force to some extent recognizes the basic responsibilities of local and central government regarding their various roles in the field of public order and security, further clarification of the roles and obligations of specific public institutions is needed. In addition, such steps should include concrete commitments and competencies of particular departments and institutions.

  • There must be a unified and coordinated engagement of state actors based on mutual interests and common objectives, in order to achieve positive results in all the fields related to crime prevention. State police, affected ministries and institutions of local government, should combine their efforts through joint committees in order to produce targeted, joint actions against crime, especially crime in its early stages.


Bibliography

1 National Security Strategy, http://merln.ndu.edu/whitepapers/Albania_English-2004.pdf

2 Institute for Democracy and Mediation, Towards a new approach on crime prevention, Security Issues Nr. 7, Toena 2007

3 National Strategy of Police, http://asp.gov.al/strategjite/Strategjia%20e%20Policise%20se%20Shtetit%202007-2013.pdf

4 Institute for Democracy and Mediation, Towards a new approach on crime prevention, Security Issues Nr. 7, Toena 2007

5 Law Nr. 9749 “On State Police”, http://asp.gov.al/psh/legjislacioni/ligji_policia_shtetit.pdf

6 Institute for Democracy and Mediation, Towards a Realistic Cooperation State Police – Local Governance, May 2008

7 Law on Education, Nr. 9741, Date 21.5.2007

8 Ligji Nr.8652, datë 31.07.2000: “Për Organizimin dhe Funksionimin e Qeverisjes Vendore”,

9 Institute for Democracy and Mediation. ‘Konkluzione të tryezës së diskutimit: “Ndërtimi i një

perspektive kombëtare mbi parandalimin e krimit’, Security issues 8, Nr. 8, Toena Spring 2008, http://idmalbania.org/publications/alb/Ceshtje_te_sigurise_8.pdf

10 National Strategy Against Illegal Trafficking of Human Beings, http://asp.gov.al/strategjite/strategjia%20_kombetare_kunder_trafikimit_qenieve_njerezore.htm

11 National Strategy against Drugs, http://asp.gov.al/strategjite/srtategjia_antidroge.htm

12 National Strategy Against Organized Crime, http://asp.gov.al/strategjite/strategjia_krimit_organizuar_trafiqeve_terrorizmit.htm

13 Institute for Democracy and Mediation. ‘Konkluzione të tryezës së diskutimit: “Ndërtimi i një

perspektive kombëtare mbi parandalimin e krimit’, Security issues 8, Nr. 8, Toena Spring 2008, http://idmalbania.org/publications/alb/Ceshtje_te_sigurise_8.pdf




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