A new "Guide for Police Officers to Enhance Interviewing and Evidence Collection Skills in Cases of Domestic Violence" was presented at a public discussion that took place at the Center of Culture in Bitola on Thursday, 1 September 2016. Nearly 100 police officers from all Sectors for Internal Affairs in the country attended the presentation, together with representatives of the Center for Social Work, the Public Prosecutor, judges from the Civil Court and Court for Minors, representatives of the civil society, media and other stakeholders.
Considering that the police officers are the first representatives of the law enforcement system encountered by domestic violence victims, and having in sight the complexity and sensitivity of the issue, continual upgrade of their skills is more than necessary.
“Police proceedings regarding reported cases of domestic violence are highly specific, if you take into account the vulnerability of the victim and the conduct of the offender. MOI’s official statistic points out to 398 criminal offences related to domestic violence reported in the first half of 2016. This number obligates us to pursue with continual education, as well as strengthening of the inter-institutional cooperation,” said in his welcoming speech Mr. Sali Salija, Assistant Director at the Public Security Bureau.
The Guide was developed in frames of the EU funded project for “Further Institution and Capacity Building of the Police Service” by three international experts in the field - Ms. Barbara Predin, Ms. Ana Gracan and Ms. Tatjana Shikoska, in parallel with the training conducted in the Training Center Idrizovo from 29 to 31 August 2016. The training had a goal to engage police officers in practical exercises based on different scenarios of domestic violence, with focus on improvement of their communication and interviewing skills, as well as techniques that would allow them to calm the situation without using physical force. The training sessions also served as an opportunity for the newly developed Guide to be piloted with the 32 participants coming from all around the country, whose work is directed precisely on responding to and handling cases of domestic violence.
“The project team decided to use more decentralized approach in order to reach out to a larger number of police officers who are the first responders in cases of domestic violence. That is why we decided to organize this event in Bitola. We also aimed to create an opportunity for the police officers from all around the country to meet and share their views deriving from their own practical experience,” highlighted Mr. Aleksander Krebl, Expert in general policing and Team-leader of the project.
The Guide was designed to meet the real needs and challenges the police officers face in practice when responding to cases of domestic violence, and it puts particular focus on the police officers’ communication skills when interviewing victims, offenders, children and witnesses.
“This Guide is intended to assist and facilitate the work of the police officers and it outlines a step-by-step approach for handling a reported case of domestic violence. It also provides concise summary of standards and requirements emanating from the relevant legal framework of the country and a detailed advice on conducting interviews and documenting the case,” pointed out Ms. Tatjana Shikoska, one of the authors of the Guide who presented it in front of the police officers gathered in Bitola.
The views and suggestions of the police officers, from both the training and the public discussion, will be taken in consideration in finalization of the Guide. Once finalized, it will be distributed to police stations throughout the country to serve everyday needs of officers being the first at the doorstep when domestic violence is reported.