Officers thank Leonardo for painting better policing picture

Thursday, 27 May, 2010

Officers from West Mercia Police have taken part in a groundbreaking European exchange project on local policing.

Three police officers and a community support officer travelled to Eindhoven last week to meet with counterparts from The Netherlands and Italy to share experiences and learn more about how they police local communities.

What is unique about the project is that it is funded by the European Union's Lifelong Learning Programme, which promotes continuing and vocational education, typically through schools and colleges.

It is thought that this is the first time police forces have taken advantage of the fund, called Leonardo, which pays for UK organisations to meet their European partners and share expertise in vocational education & training.

The trip to Eindhoven and other nearby towns, which ran from 17 to 21 May and was funded solely by Leonardo, was focused on youth engagement and youth justice. The officers found that the Dutch have a very different approach to dealing with young people involved in low-level and first time offences.

Ch Insp Jim Baker, who led the West Mercia delegation, said: "What was very interesting was the Safety House concept they use in The Netherlands. There are around 40 in the country, mostly based in urban areas and community safety partners - the police, local authority workers and youth workers - all share the same accommodation and deal with the likes of youth crime, anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse as a team. It is very holistic and cohesive and I think we could learn a lot from this very practical approach.

"When it comes to local policing, there is very little sharing of knowledge between European countries, so there is plenty we can gain from this kind of exchange. We have found the Dutch police are similar to us in many ways while the Spanish and Italian forces are going through the process we went through a few years ago with the refocusing on local policing.

"To spend a week with counterparts of other nationalities was a fantastic opportunity to challenge our approach to the way we police and to learn from European colleagues how we might be able to improve."

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