EU project contributes to systemic solution for psychological support to police officers

Police work ranks among the most stressful and psychologically demanding jobs where handling of different crisis may lead into severe physical and psychological consequences. To alleviate emotional stress of police officers who are experiencing a traumatic event as well as to facilitate normal recovery processes, police institutions have in place programmes of psychological and peer-to-peer support – by hiring an experienced psychologists as well as appointing peer councelors who are by rule esteemed police officers with a great deal of operational experience.

Having in mind that except for Brčko District Police there is no organised form of psychological assistance in police institutions in BiH, the EU-funded Project “Strengthening Law Enforcement” have provided an expert assistance to colleagues in BiH to reach a systemic solution for the establishment of this programme.

Expert assistance is extended by the representatives of the Ministry of Interior of Slovenia which is hosting a study visit for the Project Working Group, consisting of representatives of entity and state level police institutions from 6 to 10 March 2017. This will be the opportunity to learn more about the Slovenian experiences in the establishment of this programme and its successful implementation for a number of years, and pass the gained knowledge to their own institutions.

The foundation for the development of this programme in BiH is to have this issue legally regulated. The Working Group has therefore prepared a draft article to be introduced in the relevant legislation on police officials as well as a draft Manual on psychological support to police officials which is to be adopted at the individual police institution level,” explains Project’s Resident Twinning Advisor Friedrich Hofbauer.

State-level law on police officials is in the drafting procedure with the Ministry of Security of BiH. The article on establishment of psychological assistance as submitted by the Working Group has been taken into consideration. “As this is a highly important question for police officials in BiH, the Ministry of Security will incorporate this article into draft law before we send it to the parliamentary procedure,” underlines Samir Rizvo, Assistant Minister of Security of BiH in his capacity of Beneficiary Country Project Leader.

This issue will remain in focus of the Project’s activities throughout 2017. Following the presentation of the Manual on psychological support to police officials to the police management, the Project will also facilitate the process of appointment of peer counselors and provide programmes for their further professional upgrade.

Project “Strengthening Law Enforcement” is implemented in BiH with the aim to further advance police service and strengthen cooperation, coordination and efficiency in the fight against organized crime, terrorism and corruption. This project is led by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Interior and the Agency for European Integration and Economic Development (AEI) in cooperation with the Ministries of Interior of Croatia and Slovenia and funded by the European Union in amount of EUR 4.5 million from the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA 2012).