Police reforms and community policing in Poland 2017-2020 by Monika Baylis

Polish Police was established on the 24th of July 1919 by the Act of ‘’Sejm’’ – the lower chamber of Polish parliament of the Second Polish Republic and recently has celebrated its’ 95th birthday. Today, the organisation employs over 100.000 police officers and has just emerged on a new journey called ‘’A programme of modernization of Police, Customs and Boarder Services, Fire Service and Government Protection Bureau’’ allocated for the years between 2017 – 2020, proposed by a current Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration, Mr Mariusz Blaszczak in 2016 and accepted in 2017 by Polish ‘Sejm’. 

01-baylis-main2Monika Baylis who is in her final year of PhD at the University of Huddersfield, argues that the Act, which was a continuation of the previous Act dated from 2006 can be seen as ‘a fresh breath of air’ and much needed ‘’a wake-up call’’ to improve Police service in general which goes along with the view of Polish Police Federation (NSZZ) or NZZPZK expressed in an official letter directed towards Polish government in 2016, stating: ‘’Policja’ has been neglected for many years’’(NZZPZK; 2016, n.p).


Monika Baylis, University of Huddersfield

email: Monika.Baylis@hud.ac.uk  Twitter: @MonikaBaylis

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Monika Baylis with Polish Police – Warsaw airport – September 2017.

Polish Police is based on a centralized model of policing which is similar to Italian or French one. Since its creation in 1919, the organisation went through some difficult transformations by changing its’ name (e.i. from ‘Policja’ to ‘Milicja’ during the communist regime); structure and the role; reflecting some major political, economic and social changes of that times; the First; the Second World War; the Soviet Era, the fall of Communism in 1989; the birth of Polish capitalism in 1990. However, as some Polish academics argue, Polish Police known these days as ‘’Policja’’ faced considerable reforms that resulted in a restructuring of the entire policing model when Polish parliament passed a new Police Act that took effect on April 6,1990.

This Act organized the police force by allowing ‘’Policja’’ to combat crime through the new democratic political framework, where the Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration gained the administrative controls over the institution by becoming ‘’ultimately responsible for “enforcing all statutory tasks in the field of public safety and order” (Pływaczewski and Walancik, 2004, p. 93).

Other reforms occurred independently in 1995 and 1999, which restricted municipal public order forces; ‘Straz Miejska’/ ‘’Municipal guards’’ from using the official title of “police”, and added sub‐divisions within the nationalized force, therefore, widening the scope of Police work by including criminal service, prevention service, drug squads and anti‐terrorism squads.

In addition, the reforms of 1999 introduced major changes in the administrative structure of the police force as they created another level of checks on police power by requiring officers to report to both regional police chiefs and county‐level police chiefs for all police‐related matters. Therefore, each commander of the region and county become responsible for identifying and assessing problems specific to his/her jurisdictions; drug abuse, organized crime, or property crime and then allocating the appropriate resources to address each problem.

This can be seen as a policing model that echoes elements of Community Oriented Policing (COP) model found in the US and it has been argued that it was created to bring officers and community members closer together by forming a trust between police and a public. However, gaining a trust of society can be a tricky issue, especially in the country where people still remember the methods of policing used by Milicja during the Communism time, and recall or witnessed the ‘zero tolerance’ approach or ‘hard policing’ when it comes to public disorder or ‘’hooliganism’’, which is currently used by Polish Police. Therefore, there are mixed messages passed across the country; according to latest statistics published by CBOS in 2016, 65% of Polish public trusted the Police, while the remaining 27% did not. Moreover, recently Polish Media featured and questioned the Codes of Ethics of police officers who dealt with a famous case of detaining of 25 years old Igor Stachowiak from Wroclaw, who died in a police custody in May 2016.

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The Police protecting the main exit of Police Station in Wroclaw (Wyborcza.pl, 2017).

The footage appeared on one of the most popular Polish TV channels; TVN24, which prompted massive public and official reaction; public demonstrations in Wroclaw and the dismissal of officers involved in the case.

Although, the case of Igor is still controversial one in Poland, it is important to add that gaining a trust of any community can play an important role in the way the Police is being perceived by others as some scholars argue that people are more likely to obey the law when they believe in the legitimacy of police authority. Therefore, the community policing and Police reforms; ‘’the Programme of modernisation of Polish public services; Police; Customs and Boarder Services, Fire Service and Government Protection Bureau’’ have become a popular agenda in marketing materials of Polish Government or Polish Police. This can be seen as the latest mission to improve the organisation’s image and the existing model of policing by adding a new rank of NPT officer known as ‘’starszy dzielnicowy’’; using social media; Twitter; FB; National TV or by taking on more pro-active approach by helping out with the National Programme called ‘’Kreci Mnie Bezpieczenstwo’’ – ‘’ Safety first’’ funded by Polish Government, where police officers from prevention units regularly visit local schools and interact with children, young or elderly people by discussing different aspects of ‘safety’, Anti-Social Behaviour or crime.

The arguments presented above have become a part of my PhD Literature Review, however, what is more relevant is the fact, that by being a PhD researcher in Criminology I carried out in total 32 semi-structured interviews with Polish Police and Municipal Guards plus joined them on car and foot patrols between 2015 and 2016. The experience gained and my project, has provided me with a rich data with a basic message to pass on; ‘’The change is needed and welcome by police officers’’.

This can go along with the view represented by Polish Police Federation and a current Minister of Interior Affairs and Administration; Mr Mariusz Blaszczak as both sources keep pointing out that it is high time to bring a modern technology; body worn cameras; faster cars and improve officers’ conditions of work by re-opening and refurbishing police stations; adding updated system of communication or increasing officers’ salary to bring a positive change into the formation and improve the morale in general.

Finally, a recent report carried out by NIK (National Audit Office) in 2016, revealed that there is still plenty to do; increasing hours of Police training, introducing new equipment, and finally defining the role of the NPT officer itself. Yes, the list is vast and some work; testing body worn cameras; opening new police station or signing on new ammunition’s suppliers has been in the process but there are still three years left to be able to comment on the current work of Polish government and the evaluation of the reforms shall be carried out afterwards to see ‘’what works’’ or could be changed in the future. Therefore, a waiting game is on and let’s hope all actors involved will get it right as the safety of Polish public and the future of Polish Police is depending on the decisions of current government and the Chief Constable; Dr Jaroslaw Szymczyk.

Reference List:

Czapska, J., Radomska, E., and Wojcik, D. (2014), ‘’Police Legitimacy, Procedural Justice, and Cooperation with the Police: A Polish Perspective’’: Journal of Criminal Justice & Security, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p453-470. 18p.

Cebulak, W. and Pływaczewski, E. (2000), “Poland: developing nation-state”, in Barak, G. (Ed.), Crime and Crime Control: A Global View, Greenwood Press, Westport, CT, pp. 163-76.

Haberfeld, M. P., Walanick, A., & Barrtel, U. E. (2003). Community policing in Poland, final report. National Institute of Justice, (NIJ #199360). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice.

Ivkovic, S. and Haberfeld, M. (2000), “Transformation from militia to police in Croatia and Poland – a comparative perspective”, Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies

& Management, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 194-217.

Kancelaria Sejmu RP (2017), ‘’Dz.U. 1990 nr 30 poz. 179; Ustawa z dnia 6 kwietnia 1990 r. o Policji’’, Available from:  http://prawo.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/DocDetails.xsp?id=WDU19900300179

KGP, (2017) ‘’USTAWA O MODERTNIZACJI POLSKIEJ POLICJI PRZYJETA’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/4432,Ustawa-o-modernizacji-Policji-przyjeta.html

Ministerswto Spraw Wewnetrznych I Administracji, (2016), ‘’Projekt ustawy o ustanowieniu „Programu modernizacji Policji, Straży Granicznej, Państwowej Straży Pożarnej i Biura Ochrony Rządu w latach 2017-2020”, Available from: https://bip.mswia.gov.pl/bip/projekty-aktow-prawnyc/2016/24051,Projekt-ustawy-o-ustanowieniu-Programu-modernizacji-Policji-Strazy-Granicznej-Pa.html

Misiuk, A. (2008) ‘’Historia Policji w Polsce. Od X Wieku do Współczesności’’, Wydawnictwa Akademickie i Profesjonalne.

NIK, (2016), ‘’NIK o pracy dzielnicowych’’, Available from: https://www.nik.gov.pl/aktualnosci/nik-o-pracy-dzielnicowych.html

NIST, (n.d.) ‘’Starszy dzielnicowy – awans dla dobra wspólnoty samorządowej’’, Available from: https://www.nist.gov.pl/serwis-obywatelsko-samorzadowy/starszy-dzielnicowy—awans-dla-dobra-wspolnoty-samorzadowej,428.html

Nowak, M, (2017) ‘’Polska Policja radzi, jak… schować się przed policjantem. Kto prowadzi im konta na Facebooku i Twitterze?’’, Available from: https://www.spidersweb.pl/2017/05/polska-policja-facebook-twitter.html

NZZPZ, (2016), ‘’Pan Mariusz Blaszczak Minister Spraw Wewnetrznych I Administracji WARSZAWA; WNIOSEK, Available from: https://bip.mswia.gov.pl/bip/projekty-aktow-prawnyc/2016/24051,Projekt-ustawy-o-ustanowieniu-Programu-modernizacji-Policji-Strazy-Granicznej-Pa.html

NSZZ, (2016), ‘’Wniosek o dodatek specjalny dla OPP i SPPP trafił na biurko Komendanta Głównego Policji’’, Available from: http://nszzp.pl/najwazniejsze-wiadomosci/wniosek-o-dodatek-specjalny-dla-opp-sppp-trafil-biurko-komendanta-glownego-policji/

Policja.pl, (n.d.), ‘’Historia’’, Available from: http://www.info.policja.pl/inf/historia

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Kampania MSWiA „Kręci mnie bezpieczeństwo”, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/142091,Ruszyla-kampania-MSWiA-Kreci-mnie-bezpieczenstwo.html

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Komendant Glowny Policji’’, Available from: http://www.info.policja.pl/inf/kierownictwo-i-struktu/komendanci/86241,Komendanci.html

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Zero tolerancji dla kiboli i chuliganów stadionowych’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/138687,Zero-tolerancji-dla-kiboli-i-chuliganow-stadionowych.html

Policja.pl, (2016) ‘’Wiekszosc Polakow Deklaruje zaufanie do Policji’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/aktualnosci/122393,Wiekszosc-Polakow-deklaruje-swoje-zaufanie-do-Policji.html

Policja.pl, (n.d.) ‘’Nowe posterunki’’, Available from: http://www.policja.pl/pol/tagi/7816,nowe-posterunki.html

Pływaczewski, E. and Walancik, P. (2004), “Challenges and changes to the police system in

Poland”, in Caparini, M. and Marenin, O. (Eds), Transforming Police in Central and

Eastern Europe: Process and Progress, Transaction Publishers, London, pp. 93-114.

Summers, D. and Plywaczewski, E. (2012), ‘’The Polish context Examining issues of police reform, drug use and drug trafficking in a transitioning democracy’’: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, Vol. 35 Issue: 2, pp.231-252,

TVN24, (2017), ‘’Policja testuje kamery mundurowe. Docelowo mają rejestrować wszystkie interwencje (http://www.tvn24.pl)’’, Available from: https://fakty.tvn24.pl/ogladaj-online,60/policja-testuje-kamery-mundurowe-docelowo-maja-rejestrowac-wszystkie-interwencje,744485.html

TVN24, (2017), ‘’Sprawa śmierci Igora Stachowiaka. “Dążymy do tego, by policjanci byli wyposażeni w tasery” (http://www.tvn24.pl)’’, Available from: https://www.tvn24.pl/wiadomosci-z-kraju,3/igor-stachowiak-zmarl-na-komisariacie-policja-o-uzywaniu-paralizatora,741922.html

University of Huddersfield, (2017) ‘’Same page or poles apart – policing anti-social behaviour’’, Available from: http://www-old.hud.ac.uk/news/2017/january/samepageorpolesapartpolicinganti-socialbehaviour.php

 

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PG BLOG -When does secondary victimisation stop? An argument for accountability

nicola-redgraveThis contribution to the BSC postgraduate Blog is from Nicola Redgrave. Nicola is a new postgraduate student who will resuming her studies in September. Her blog piece marries together her experience assisting victims of crime within the criminal justice system as a volunteer for victim support and the focus of her Masters dissertation; victims and repeat victimisation from the processes of the criminal justice system.  Want to hear more about this topic? contact Nicola here:

n.redgrave15@gmail.com @nikki_redgrave


Police and court procedures have been consistently scrutinised over the years as to the way in which victims are treated whilst working to secure a conviction. However, it is the failures of various agencies on the release of serious offenders which I will consider and the concept of tertiary victimisation in this context, which is quite evidently under-researched within criminological discourse.
The idea of tertiary victimisation does appear to be discussed more commonly in contemporary discourse, however, this does tend to be in terms of the wider social network of the primary victim, such as in cases of homicide and acts of terrorism, the relatives of the victims’ thus becoming tertiary victims. In principle, the notion of tertiary victimisation should naturally link to the concept of secondary victimisation, given the consistent failures from various justice agencies beyond conviction and release of an offender.
Primarily, it is important to outline that within the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights all human beings have a right to life, liberty and security from the state, these are basic fundamental rights. However, it could be argued that once an offender has committed a crime and particularly a crime against another human being which, as a result infringes on their human rights, would thus mean an offender would then forego their human rights to an extent. Reinforced by the Justice for all 2002 white paper whereby it states that victims’ rights should be central, although it does indicate that there should be some level of fairness towards the offender also, and this is where the complications arise in terms of ensuring the rights of both the offender and the victim are honoured without conflict.
Of course, in the UK, we are fortunate to have access to charities such as Victim Support, who are able and are renowned for assisting with a wide range of issues in the immediate aftermath of an offence being committed, right up until and during trial. This does however provoke thought as to what happens beyond this point, when the offender is released from prison.
I volunteered for Victim Support for around 12 months at the end of my undergraduate degree, and noted that the assistance offered in the immediate aftermath was not offered once an offender was released, or due to be released. In fact, it then soon became apparent that there are not currently any services offered for this point of the justice process. Once the courts and police have gotten their conviction, a victim is thus surplus.
At present, the MOJ (2015) highlights that, victims of violent or serious sexual offences will be offered the inclusion in the victim contact scheme by the Probation Service and thus be able to have some influence to the conditions imposed on the offender on release from prison, such as; preventing an offender from contacting them, any family members or entering the area in which the victim resides. This has been a requirement of the Probation Service since 1995 according to D’Enno (2007) where the victim would be contacted only if the offender was imprisoned for over 4 years, this changed in 2001 to offenders sentenced to 12 months or more.
It is highlighted in a number of publications, white papers and reports through various agencies that the reintegration and reform of an offender is imperative to prevent reoffending, thus being the primary concern for the criminal justice system at the point of the offender’s release. Although it is indicated that involvement from the victim is also important it is clear that the rights of both the victim and the offender cannot be honoured without infringing on one or the other. Obviously, reform is paramount here, particularly in terms of preventing reoffending, however it is noted by Baird (2009) that victims are not treated fairly in this sense, she emphasises that for victims of sexual assault, the effect can indeed be long lasting and victims may need support to recover, and not just in the initial aftermath as the impact of the offence could resurface in many cases, years later. It could be expected that once an offender is released in cases of sexual assault and rape that this could indeed resurface the effects the crime bore on a victim, as a result victimising them yet again.
I bore witness to this during my time at Victim Support, whereby a victim contacted the police to ascertain whether an offender had been released from prison five years into an eleven-year sentence, she was told she had “no right to be told as [the offender] had served his time”. This demonstrates the clear lack of understanding from a police officer’s position of the rights and processes in terms of victims within the justice system, thus provoking further thought to how often this is the case when it comes to the rights of a victim being infringed in order to uphold the rights of the offender.
In this case, it is evident that not only was she failed by the police, but by the Probation Service also, as their legal requirement to contact the victim prior to release was not honoured, thus the offender was left to move into a house across the road from her mother and work in an area a short walk from her home, where he continued taunt her through the offences he committed.
Emphasising that due to the lack of agencies available to offer that support for victims on release of the offender, and the rights and resettlement of the offender being central, victims are thus being subject to tertiary victimisation. But, what can be done? Clearly the rights and needs of the victims at this stage in the justice process needs to be carefully considered and awareness within various agencies needs to be reaffirmed and understood as meticulously as the rights and needs of the offender. It is all very well systems being in place in the immediate aftermath of the offence being committed, however victims are being consistently let down and marginalised once the offender has been sentenced and from then on.

References

1. Baird, V. (2009) “Sustainable Support for Rape Victims” available from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/aug/12/rape-crisis-funding

2. CPS (2002) “Justice for all” Available from: https://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/jfawhitepaper.pdf

3. D’Enno, D. (2007) “Brighton Crime and Vice 1800-2000” Barnsley: Wharncliffe Books

4. MOJ (2015) “Code of Practice for Victims of Crime” Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/476900/code-of-practice-for-victims-of-crime.PDF

5. United Nations (ND) “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” Available from: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

6. Victim Support (ND) “Getting Help After a Crime” Available from: https://www.victimsupport.org.uk