Europol holds an international conference of experts in the field of burglaries

A local and regional focus is not enough to dismantle mobile organised crime groups (MOCG- Mobile Organized Crime Group) if Europe is to be a safer place. Aware of this, Europol, which works with the Police of Munich, BKA Germany, Eurojust and the Spanish National Police, gathered together over 300 top level experts from police services and the judiciary, as well as some investigators, from 38 countries, at the end of November 2017, to discuss the typology of crime against property, organised in Europol’s The Hague headquarters.

ThiefOrganised crime against real estate, especially inside the property, is a crime that all security organisms of the European Union combat firmly with numerous actions as they have a profound effect on the victims and provoke a strong feeling of insecurity in the general public. A large number of these crimes are committed by mobile organised crime groups (MOCG), characterised by a high rate of flexibility and mobility.

The objective of these conferences was to study how to effectively combat criminal groups in the field of theft by improving cross border structures. The intensive, transnational and interdisciplinary work of the conference participants sought to identify similarities and problematic areas in the fight against crime, thereby developing specific solutions. Only close national and international cooperation allows for the identification of crimes and active cross border offenders. There is also an attempt to establish a common understanding with investigations, which should not only be centred on active criminals in situ, as, indeed, it should also include intellectuals and facilitators, including investigations into finance and the recovery of assets.

Europol plays a key role in the fight against criminal activity involving organised crime against property. To help members in a more efficient way and continue with a multi-disciplinary and horizontal focus, the Crimes against Property Unit focuses on mobile organised crime groups (MOCG). One of the main objectives is to increase awareness in the member states affected. There is a lot of information available at an investigative level in the member states but it is not shared. The objective must be that this crucial knowledge be made available by organisms applying the law in other countries affected.

The project basically focuses on:

The introduction of a new support team with four secondary national experts (since 2016) with the task of linking up with investigators and prosecutors of the member states.

Identify the structures and the members of the gangs of criminals involved.

Organisation of operational meetings.

Provide operational analysis support during ongoing operations.

Identify and detect new trends via strategic analysis.

Organise conferences of experts and training courses all over Europe.

Improve the web-oriented focus.

Support and improvement of the Europol platform for experts in domestic theft.

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Crimes recorded by the Ertzaintza continue to fall

ErtzainaOver recent years, polices forces from other areas have published recorded crime data, with a a notable downward trend in crimes committed. The Basque country’s police force, the Ertzaintza, with the publication of its data, serves to confirm this reduction in crime.

Criminal offences known to the Ertzaintza in 2016 amounted to 81,355 – 11,554 in Álava, 48,213 in Biscay and 21,568 in Gipuzkoa.If we analyse the 2012-2016 period, we can establish that that figures have gradually dropped every year:

Number of crimes
2012 90.653
2013 88.818
2014 86.783
2015 83.996
2016 81.355
Source: Own elaboration of data from the Ertzaintza

Of these 81,355 criminal offences recorded in 2016, 41 are homicides, 5,235 are assaults, 61,790 are crimes against property and 357 are crimes against sexual freedom.

Furthermore, if we bear in mind arrests carried out by the Ertzaintza, we see an evolution which involves falling percentage figures similar to those of criminal activity:

Number of arrests
2012 8,243
2013 7,590
2014 6,891
2015 5,964
2016 5,247
Source: Own elaboration of data from the Ertzaintza

Effectively, in 2016 there was the lowest number of arrests. Of these, 712 took place in a Álava, 2,694 in Biscay and 1,841 in Gipuzkoa.

Similarly, the Ertzaintza also publish data related to investigations carried out in the three provinces of the Basque country. In this case, the investigations carried out by the police force continue to rise during the 2012-2016 period:

Number of investigations
2012 14,468
2013 15,321
2014 15,360
2015 17,082
2016 20,782
Source: Own elaboration of data from the Ertzaintza

As can be seen, there is a steady increase in investigations, although in 2014 they remain stable and, on the other hand, in 2016 there is a noticable rise.

Concerning the rate of criminal offences per one thousand inhabitants in the context of each province, Ertzaintza data reveal very low rates:

Rate of criminal offences
2015 2016
Álava 38.63 36.56
Biscay 43.05 42.58
Gipuzkoa 32.86 30.77
Source: Own elaboration of data from the Ertzaintza

The rate of criminal offences per thousand inhabitants in Spain as a whole in 2015 was 43.69, and 43.21 in 2016.

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The number of terrorist attacks falls, the threat remains

In 2016, Europol recorded 142 terrorist attacks –including those which failed, those which were thwarted and those which were carried out −, which caused 142 deaths. Terrorist activity in the European Union is concentrated in eight countries: Germany, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. The fight against terrorism, however, also affects countries which have not suffered attacks, and the 1,002 terrorist-related detentions, apart from the eight countries already mentioned, have also been carried out in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Slovenia, Ireland, Poland, The Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden.

Hommage_à_Ahmed_MerabetThese figures are slightly lower than those recorded during 2015  : 221 terrorist attacks, 151 deaths and 1,077 people arrested.

Europol differentiates between terrorist affiliations: jihadists, extreme left wing and anarchists, extreme right, separatists, with a particular objective and those which do not specify what group they belong to. Jihadist terrorist attacks amount to 13 of the 142 recorded; however, they have caused 135 of the 142 deaths and 374 of the 379 casualties.[1] Most of the 1,002 detentions are also mainly focused on terrorists with a jihadist ideology (718, 429 correspond to France and 69 to Spain). Of all detentions, the UK stands out due to the non-specified affiliation of the 149 people detained in this country.

Separatist terrorism is the one which, in terms of quantity, generates a higher number of incidents, with 99 attacks recorded in 2016. Of these, 76 were in the UK, all connected to Northern Irish terrorism. Five of these attacks took place in Spain and correspond to acts of sabotage attributed to Ernai (the youth movements of the Abertzale left-wing separatist group) and to this group’s dissident movements.

The other affiliation which generates most attacks is the extreme left and anarchists, with 16 attacks in Italy, 6 in Greece and 5 in Spain, regarding which it must be stressed that there is no great operational planning nor the use of improvised explosive devices (which are not considered to be commercial or military explosives) nor firearms.

This is some of the information published in the annual report on the situation and trends connected to terrorism in the European Union in 2016 which Europol has published in June 2017.

[1] The tally of those injured is confusing, as the core of the document, when the attacks in Nice, Berlin and Brussels are explained, respectively records 201, 56 and 340 casualties, a figure which, without including those injured in less serious attacks, is already in excess of the 374 highlighted.

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Europol asks the public for help

The identification and rescue of victims within the framework of the fight against the online exploitation of minors is one of the operational priorities of Europol. To meet this objective, Europol has started up an initiative which asks the general public to help to identify victims of child pornography. This logically involves minor details rather than a direct approach. With the slogan “Stop child abuse, trace an object”, a webpage has been published which shows objects which appear in photographs obtained from sex crimes suffered by minors. The intention is for those members of the public who see these objects to be able to identify them and, with the information gathered, Europol will be able to identify their origin.

Stop Child Abuse. Trace and Object

The driving force is that in two previous investigations two victims were successfully identified thanks to food wrappings and rubbish containers, which appeared due to these images and their sexual content.

On 1 June 2017 the first collection of twenty objects was published, which involve fragments of photographs in which bags, shoes, landscapes, bottles and other elements can be seen. For each object, some information is associated, with some indication about the type of object and more specific or more generic questions about the identification that may be made, about the locality and where certain products can be bought and sold. Such images can also be shared on social networks.

The information given by the members of the public can be anonymous, and whenever Europol confirms that the object has been identified or located in a particular place, the information will be passed on to the relevant police authorities in the country in question.

The quality of the images varies greatly and, in some cases, objects may turn out to be easier to identify than in others. The collection of images published will vary periodically.

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Commissioner Cristina Manresa: “Thorough planning is the key to success”

Comissària Cristina ManresaCommissioner Cristina Manresa Llop, born in Barcelona in 1968, has a 19 year-old son and lives in Badalona. With a diploma in Criminology and a degree in the History of Art awarded by Barcelona University, she joined the Mossos d’Esquadra on its fourth promotion – 26 years ago – and became a commissioner after having experience of all ranks. She believes this is important because having provided different services and having been in different situations have given her an insight and given her knowledge of the difficult task faced by police officers, and have taught her to value the important things in life.

She is currently Head of the North Metropolitan Division and has been Director of the security plan of the Mobile World Congress since 2013.

She has been given several awards and prizes, she is a member of the ethics committee of the Catalan police force and has spent years taking part in teaching and training activities, and giving lectures.

What is your appraisal of the safety features of the latest edition of the Mobile World Congress?

Very positive, nothing of note has happened in a congress which has set a new record, with 108,000 people, which amounts to a rise of 7% compared with the previous year. The crime rate applicable to each 1,000 visitors has been 0.34, a lower rate than the one recorded in 2016, which was 0.36. The number of crimes has remained stable with a reduction of 13% being committed on public transport and with 91% consisting of thefts.

We feel proud of the work done by the police forces, emergency services which along with the organisers of the MWC, the managers of the Barcelona Fair and Barcelona’s tourism department, have contributed to overseeing the security of those attending the congress and the smooth organisation of this event. That’s teamwork!!

What planning, preventive, emergency, and public security tools enable you to help and offer protection to people during these big events?

Our work is based on a Directive Security Plan (PDS), a document which states the objectives and features of the event and organises different tasks for those involved so that we are effectively coordinated. Eight programmes which include public security police resources, public order, intelligence, mobility, civil protection, accommodation, etc.

As part of the preventive policy, the PG-ME has promoted the distribution of information from security councils on the social network of the Mossos d’Esquadra and on 112. And material has been distributed with basic security measures to those attending the congress with the aim of preventing crime such as informative panels on transport, posters and leaflets in different languages. These actions have been carried out in collaboration with different entities participating in the organisation and security of the event, such as the GSMA, Barcelona Convention Bureau and the Association of Hotels.

 In what way, from a planning perspective, does it have an impact having so many actors (public and private) from different fields and administrations, in the same event? Is the human factor vital in this sense?

Thorough planning is the key to success because there are many participants in the PG-ME with different specialities: GEI, Escortes, Subsol, Canina, Tedax, Hèlix, BRIMO, ARRO, Information, Public Security, Transport, etc. We also involve external personnel in our organisation, from other municipal police forces (Hospitalet and Barcelona) and external operators: The organising company, private security, emergencies, the Barcelona office of tourism, the council, transport companies, etc.

For this reason we begin to plan after the summer until the months of February or March which is when the MWC takes place.

There is an initial Meeting with all the representatives and we explain anything new and the chronogram, and afterwards the groups develop the services which will be provided and supervised by the plan’s direction team until the final three mechanisms take shape in three phases: Pre-alert, Alert, Maximum alert.

While the congress is taking place there are different daily meetings, with the plan’s direction team and the organisation first thing in the morning, with the police services and transport organisers.

When the MWC is over there is a debriefing session where suggestions for improvements from all services are gathered.

The human factor is fundamental, as knowing each of the operators greatly facilitates the task, we are a team and everyone works to make things better every year. The success of the MWC belongs to us all!!

What has been the most complex situation that you have had to address in recent MWCs? Is there any aspect or complication which crops up every year?

In 2016 with the new number 9 underground line because this was a new element and very much at a trial phase, we didn’t know how many people would use this line. On top of this, there was a transport strike and mobility got complicated.

Managing the queues and entry of those attending the congress to the venue securely is a challenge because of the issue of terrorism. Since 2015 we have identified all participants, we have increased the amount of personnel and have tightened security measures with containment elements at points of entry: pylons, metal detectors, scanners, dogs, etc.

Security advice which we communicate to those attending the congress via the PG-ME is, we feel, a good way to stop them becoming crime victims. Prevention is a good tool and we work on this before the congress by meeting up with the hotels, catering, and tourism associations and with other operators.

Have you been inspired or do you get inspired by any other type of similar event when you innovate with preventive and security measures? And, alternatively, have other security services or similar events been inspired by the work done here?

The experience of other events or services we, the PG-ME, work on have inspired us to develop the Directive Security Plan of the MWC. This is a document which sets out, in eight programmes, each of the particularities of the security services, the amount of personnel working on each task, place, timetables and other technical features. What I feel must be stressed about the PDS is that other external operators participate in the PG-ME. An integrating and transversal way of working with other administrations and private parties.

There has been interest in the working methods, and other police forces have reproduced the PDS model.

 As a woman and commissioner of the PGME, what is your opinion of the role of women in the Mossos d’Esquadra police service?

My assessment as a woman in command is that we should make an even bigger effort to achieve gender equality in the police force at all levels, and also at the level of being in charge, where the effect of the decisions made is more tangible. Here there remains work to be done. A police officer of the XXI century needs to be open and prepared to meet whatever challenges are set. A woman’s viewpoint is very important when developing security policies.

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Notable drop in crime against property in Switzerland

The data published by the Swiss Federal Institute of Statistics confirm the downward trend over recent years in strictly penal infractions and those committed against drug trafficking legislation and those which regulate immigration laws. This trend is very clear in the case of penal infractions (-4%, with a reduction of roughly twenty thousand offences overall), and also considerable in the area of drug trafficking (-3%, three thousand fewer) and less noticeable in the sphere of immigration laws (-1%, about three hundred fewer cases).

Casa SuïssaIt is important, however, to note that the decrease in penal infractions is due to a significant reduction in the more habitual crime, crime against property, which sees a drop of 6%. In this area, there is an 11% reduction in burglaries and a 13% reduction in snatching. Theft of vehicles has gone down more moderately (6%).

Crimes against life and physical integrity see a 2% rise. Although homicides have gone down by 21% (from 57 to 45), attempted homicide has increased by 33% and minor injuries, by 6%. As far as gender violence is concerned, 19 deaths were recorded (one every three weeks), the vast majority of which (18) were women.

Crimes against sexual integrity have seen a rise of 8% and crimes against honour, intimacy and confidentiality see a 6% rise. Although crimes against freedom have generally dropped by 5%, the crime of people trafficking has increased by 116% (from 58 to 125). This factor may be linked to massive movements of people towards Europe in recent years. This circumstance would also explain why infractions against immigration laws remain relatively stable (-1%) and do not follow the more marked downward trend applicable to other offences.

As far as the arrested are concerned (“accused”, as they say), the report stresses that the decrease in minors, which, although it has only gone down by 1.4% compared with last year, only amounts to half the number recorded in 2009. Most of those detained are foreigners (41.172 per 37,068 nationals). In any case, as we commented in last year’s statistics, the fact that many of these (24,018) reside habitually in the country must be borne in mind, as there is a large foreign population which lives there without becoming nationalised.

The canton (semi-canton, in this case) with the highest crime rate is the city of Basel (110. 1 per 100,000), which is higher than Geneva (now with 107.1, a 12-point drop in comparison with the previous year), Neuchâtel (75.1) and Vaud (70.5). Uri continues to have the lowest crime rate (18.7), followed by Nidwalden (26.6) and Schwytz (27.3).

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Germany: infractions against immigration legislation prevent the crime rate from falling for a second successive year

According to the latest statistics published by the German Bundeskriminalamt, the 487,711 infractions (crimes) against immigration legislation registered in 2016 in the country have led to a slight rise (0.7%) in penal infractions, maintaining a stable upward trend from the previous year, when the high number of immigration-related crimes altered the year’s global figures.

ManillesThe trend demonstrated last year continues in all fields. Therefore, violent crime has seen a 6.7% rise. Homicides of all kinds have seen a rise of 14.3% (it must be kept in mind that this figure includes 72 homicides committed by the nurse from Lower Saxony and the 17 linked to the Munich Olympiazentrum incidents). Sexual abuse and rape have increased by 12.8% and assaults by 9.9%. The only exception is that of theft with violence and intimidation, which have dropped by 3.7%.

Crime against property has dropped significantly. Different types of robbery have gone down by 4.4% (the biggest drop corresponds to burglaries, by 9.5%; that linked to different ways of making payments has dropped by 8.5%, and robberies of professional offices and storage areas, by 6.5%). Fraud has gone down by 7% and economic crime, by 5.6%.

Crime against intellectual property (+7.2%) and damages (+3.4%) have also seen a rise, which is most significant in overall numbers in the second case (+19,350 crimes).

The number of people arrested (2,360,806) has gone down very slightly (-0.3%) by 8,230 people. Most of those arrested are men (74.9%) and adults over 21 (77.4%). The number of people arrested under the influence of alcohol has risen by 2.4% (242,494 in total) and arrests of non-nationals have risen by 4.6%, which amounts to 40.4% compared to the 59.6% corresponding to German nationals. The age group which has seen the highest rise in arrests is under 14 (a rise of 14%), while pre-adults (18 to 21) has risen slightly (0.3%). The most important drop applies to the group between 14 and 18 (3.8%).

In reference to the länder, Baden-Württemberg appears as the land with least crime (55.99 per thousand); in second place, we find Hessen (66.72 per thousand); in third place, Renania-Palatinat (67.75 per thousand) followed by Bavaria in fourth place, which has seen a 9.5% rise (the previous year Bavaria was in first place without taking into consideration immigration-related crime, but not if these offences are included). Without immigration-related crime, Bavaria would still be a land with a low crime rate (4.85 per thousand). Once again, the impact of the wave of refugees makes its present felt, but –it must be stressed− not so much in terms of the number of crimes, which has dropped slightly (-43,093 without immigration-related crime), as the rise is mainly explained by infractions committed against immigration legislation.

The länder with the highest rate of penal infractions are, like last year, the city states of Berlin (161.61 per thousand), Bremen (136.87 per thousand) and Hamburg (133.84 per thousand), although Bremen and Hamburg have switched positions.

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Data belonging to the Catalonia police force to be made public

dadesobertes_551x431Over the last few days the project Dades Obertes of the Mossos d’Esquadra (the Catalan police force) has been presented as a sign of commitment on the part of the Department of the Interior and the Director General of the Police to transparency, following in the footsteps of few leading organisations in this field.

The project Dades Obertes of the Mossos d’Esquadra involves an important change in the publication of information administered or generated by the police. On the one hand, this involves a large volume of information which follows the principles of openly available data, in accordance with which anyone can use, reuse and share the information again. That is to say, this data can be downloaded and worked with (a new concept in continental Europe) as well as being used for consultation purposes. Furthermore, the quality data on offer will facilitate transfer of knowledge and generate innovation in the field of security, as well as other benefits.

The updating of data on the portal is predicted to vary in accordance with the period of introduction of the information in police systems and the process of generation of the different files to be published on the website, which have to abide by certain characteristics in order to be considered as open data.

In general, the period for updating is estimated to be one or two months after the end of the period of introduction in police information systems –monthly, every three months or annually. These periods may increase in the case of those collections of data which require the intervention of external services of the Director General of the Police.

As far as the territory is concerned, the data is provided by the Basic Police Area (police stations) and includes both the Generalitat police forceMossos d’Esquadra and local police forces which make up the system.

The portal Dades Obertes has started off with 500,000 items of data, but in the coming months more new data will be released. The current open data is that which has been regarded as most important and which will be of use to the public, such as:

  • Organisational data: operative personnel of the PG-ME, vehicles and police stations
  • Institutional activity: administration of petitions from institutional organs, relations with the media and social networks (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr)
  • Police activity: waiting time to make a report, time required to respond to pressing cases, daily average of police patrols, incidents dealt with and hours of service
  • Crime data, in accordance with the current penal code
  • Suggestions, expressions of gratitude and complaints
  • Preventive activities: contact with the community
  • Domestic and gender-related violence

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Police and the use of the firearm: an approximation to its reality

Interventions by police agents involving the use of firearms have noteworthy implications, from both a personal and professional viewpoint. Such interventions also tend to involve a certain level of complexity and have a social impact, both of which must be taken into account.

The Catalonia Institute of Public Security (ISPC), in collaboration with the  Generalitat Police Force – Mossos d’Esquadra (PG-ME) and the Department of the Interior, carried out a study of different firearm-related situations. This study, which concluded in June 2015, was based on an analysis of real cases explained by police officers who volunteered to do so in rationally high-risk situations.

In the publication Real situations involving firearms –fourth issue of the collection “Segments of Security”, published at the end of 2016− there are results of this study from different viewpoints: the psychophysical, the legal and that of police intervention, and it also aims to interpret present intervention policies and future proposals for research and training purposes in this context.

When a police officer is involved in a firearm-related intervention, he / she experiences a range of physiological, emotional, instinctive, cognitive and behavioural reactions with such a level of intensity which are difficult to come to terms with and which cause a certain fatigue. Therefore, police officers also need time to interiorise what they have felt and been through in an intervention of this sort.

In police terms, when a firearm situation crops up, a process of self-investigation begins to understand the facts and the intervention carried out. Legally, a legal procedure begins to know if the use of force used by the law enforcement agency was used in an appropriate or arbitrary way.

The structure of the study involves the following chapters:

  • Records: Norms and training, as well as completed studies of the reactions of the person when he / she is exposed to life-threatening situations.
  • Core of the study: The evolution of the present study from its origins, via an explanation and analysis of cases, until the final results with conclusions and specific training proposals, which must be transformed into police training techniques which go beyond the traditional static shot, which is barely relevant to the realities of police work
  • Legal assessment of firearm use by police and jurisprudence: The legal take on some cases of this study and other similar cases can help officers to understand the reasons for the legal procedure, which begins after the intervention and continues until a final decision is taken.

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Videos to warn the seniors about fraud

Sweden’s police force has launched the campaign “Don’t try to fool me” to inform and train the senior as regards protecting themselves from fraud and swindles. The training material has been prepared in collaboration with two organisations for the senior (PRO and SPF Seniorena) and one which tends to victims (Brottsofferjouren).

Motesinledning-bildspelOn the one hand, on the police webpage there is the material used to carry out this training programme – a PowerPoint presentation, a pdf document with advice for trainers and three documents with a list of tricks assigned to three preventive strategies: Be on your guard, Your home is your castle and Make your presence felt. Furthermore, on the YouTube channels of the two senior’s organisations there are also explanatory programmes for each of the preventive strategies, as well as a fourth video with fragments of a training session given by a police officer to a group of senior with the use of the campaign’s material.

Advice relating to Being on your guard or being alert focus on the safe use of credit cards. On the one hand, other people must not be able to see the secret code, when using cash dispensers or making payments in establishments. Moreover, tactics used by thieves to steel credit cards are shown, especially those involving distraction.

The strategy Your home is your castle focuses on warning against incidents which the senior could suffer at home. First of all, it warns about the tactics which strangers use to enter senior people’s homes, whether it is to check installations or to sell a product of some sort, or by making prior contact by telephone.

The third block of recommendations, Make your presence felt, warns about fraudulent behaviour used to acquire information which is personal or sensitive to victims, whether via Internet (with phishing or by sending emails from supposed companies or banks) or by telephone via some tele operators. If there are bills for goods or services which have not been ordered, it recommends complaining and contacting the consumer protection service.

The project is supported by a study of crimes against property suffered by the senior between June and December 2014, centred especially on different types of fraud and swindles.

It must be remembered that on the webpage of the Department of the Interior a series of recommendations are published for the senior which are relevant to different contexts (the home, theft, abuse, drivers and pedestrians, on the beach or emergency cases) and that the Catalonia police force also provides talks to put forward this security advice.

The videos and security advice published by the Swedish police force can be accessed on the following links:

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