The president of EuroCOP has warned about a rise in violence against police officers across Europe due to social unrest and disorder.
Calum Steele was addressing delegates at the EuroCOP’s autumn conference in Spain. He said: “There are almost too many examples of the upturn in violence to talk about”, but referenced recent incidents of violence against officers in Sweden and Ireland.
He said: “The exceptional violence in Southern Sweden over Easter, and the deliberate ramming of police vehicles in the Cherry Orchard area of Dublin in September, show how little regard increasing sections of our societies have towards the police.
“The whole of Europe finds itself in a toxic cocktail of environmental factors that are the perfect ingredients for an increase in social unrest and disorder. The risks this creates for police officers are more than obvious.”
Calum attended the European Council Law Enforcement Working Party (LEWP) last week to press the case for a European standard for the gathering of statistical data on violence against police officers.
Similar statistics are gathered by the FBI in the United States. Calum said: “Reliable data against set standards is essential to allow police organisations to understand the scale of the problem, as well as develop relevant training responses.”
Calum also addressed how the cost-of-living crisis – exacerbated by the war in Ukraine – was impacting officers. He said: “With an average inflation rate of almost 11% across Europe, we know this winter will be difficult for many, and we have to do all we can to fight for our colleagues’ rights as they begin to feel the pressure.”
He linked this to a significant curtailment on trade union rights, which EuroCOP has been fighting alongside EPSU and EuroMil.
Another hot topic was EuroCOP’s campaign for the relocation of CEPOL (the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training) from Hungary, due to the country’s tacit support for Russia. In a letter to CEPOL, Calum wrote: “How in all consciousness can the delivery of European police training from a centre in Hungary, a country which remains silent on the rampant criminality on its very doorstep, be defended?”
Calum said that EuroCOP’s activities since the last meeting had delivered on its strategic priorities of raising EuroCOP’s profile, establishing and building a foundation for developing a policy environment that supports police officers, and promoting and supporting policing best practice.
He ended his speech by paying tribute to several high-profile colleagues who were retiring from their posts: ErNE General Secretary Roberto Seijo; Police Federation of Northern Ireland Chair Mark Lindsay; British Transport Police Federation Chair Nigel Goodband; and Swedish Police Union Chair Lena Nitz.