|Dear Rector of the University of Cyprus,
Professor Savvas Katsikides, Dean of the School of Social and Educational Sciences at the University of Cyprus,
Professor Emeritus David Farrington, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge,
Professor Emeritus Andreas Kapardis, Department of Law, University of Cyprus, President of the Cyprus Society of Criminology,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At first, I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the international conference’s organizers for inviting Cyprus Police to participate to this event, but also for giving me the opportunity to address it. It is of the essence that events such as this, where individuals from the spheres of policing, psychology, and criminology meet in order to work together for achieving common objectives, are fully embraced by criminal justice agencies, not least of which the Police.
It is broadly accepted that academic involvement in and contributions to the arena of policing have greatly advanced and refined the angles by which police agencies examine, monitor, and tackle crime and criminals. Indeed, the side-by-side crime prevention and combating ventures, undertaken by practitioners and academics, from different vantage points of course, have paved the way to the inception of a new discourse, in which the police and the academic community alike, now complement one another.
Being more precise, the scholarly input of psychology in general and forensic psychology in particular, has played a vital role in this evolvement. No doubt, germane research findings have casted light towards a host of important issues. That is, criminal profiling, police interviews, lie detection, negotiations, victim support, stress management, and the like.
As I emphasise time and again, the Cyprus Police invests profoundly in education and training. A case in point is the upgrading of the level and quality of education police recruits and officers receive, while building up their career in the Police. As of this year, within the spectrum of reform in police training and education, the Cyprus Police Academy has joined forces with the University of Cyprus. More precisely, new police recruits enjoy a blended programme of learning, both at the Cyprus Police Academy and at the University of Cyprus, where they have to complete a three year programme, which includes five policing related modules in a semester at the latter institution, and upon completion of all stages of their education and training, a higher diploma will be awarded to them. In addition, candidate police inspectors, as a prerequisite, will be undertaking three modules in police leadership and management, which have been designed solely for their ranks, at the University of Cyprus and at the same time they will be taking other policing courses at the Cyprus Police Academy.
Moreover, the Police Academy, in its attempt to elevate life-long learning, offers a great deal of training courses, as well as sends police members to specialised courses in countries abroad. To illustrate, in yesteryear alone, the Cyprus Police sent 278 of its members abroad for training purposes, whereas 1140 members received training locally. These numbers demonstrate our commitment in police training and education since in 2017, 36% of our members have received training, either in Cyprus or abroad.
Indeed, as the policing landscape rapidly changes, so too the Police’s response must match such changes and be able to adequately meet the challenges which arise from the contemporary criminogenic environment. We live in an era where police organisations undergo vigorous transition and, as a result, police undertakings progressively abandon traditional and outdated investigative methods that entail coercion, machismo, arbitrariness, and intimidation. Precisely, today’s effective policing tactics and tools, investigation in particular, necessitates smart, tactful, methodical, evidence-based, and officially sanctioned techniques, which do not merely concentrate on the end result, say the conviction, but take into good account other linked factors such as due process and due diligence. Indeed, police investigative techniques are not means to end, and as such, they must never be disentangled from fairness and respect of human dignity and fundamental rights, as enshrined in domestic and transnational legislation.
We are all well aware of the fact that many crucial police functions, such as investigations, are subject to time constrictions which, in turn, are fuelled by swift attempts to collect prima facie evidence, locate offenders, and deter further crime. Notwithstanding, the police must manage to walk on a tight rope and satisfy both, effective investigations and even-handed justice. In other words, the police may apply offender profiling techniques, but that needs to be done against an evidence-based and valid backdrop, so not to infringe criminal procedure or undermine human rights. That being said, the Police should be prudent and put in place such mechanisms that will strike a fine balance between use of force, discretion, and fairness. After all, being an integral part of a just, transparent, and nonpartisan criminal justice system should be the greatest obligation of any police organisation.
Precisely, that is why enforcing the law, especially during perplexed incidents that necessitate instant action for preserving life, is gravely difficult. Because we have to always counterbalance the public benefit with the private loss, notwithstanding how much information and resources we can call to our aid. For instance, how does a police officer employ his/her discretionary powers for countering a possible terrorist walking on a busy road? What level of suspicion is enough for signalling and justifying an intervention, and how is that suspicion being formulated to begin with? Is it based on intuition, training, experience, stereotypes, or on all of these?
Nevertheless, different categories of crime involve different types of criminals, who, in turn, follow particular patterns and adhere to specific modus operandi. In other words, particular crimes are committed by particular offenders via particular methods and mind-sets, and this very fact allows us to draw some inferences as to who did what, how, and why? Such information is quite useful in many aspects of policing. In that sense, while interviewing suspects, who unfortunately many times appear to be articulate in deceiving others and in concealing their true emotions, police officers struggle to uncover incriminating evidence. However, if they act upon evidence based on offender profiling, they are in advantageous position, as they can effectively direct their efforts and tactics accordingly.
Having said that, the question arises as to what is to be learned from experts in the field? What are the most effective evidence-based interviewing tactics? Investigators must be able to read between the lines and, also, to interpret the gesticulations of suspects, if they are to decide upon which course of action is best to undertake next. Otherwise, valuable time and resources are wasted and, principally, justice is not restored.
To this end, we have initiated a procedure for the establishment of a Behavioural Forensic Unit, at the Criminalistics Department of the Cyprus Police Headquarters, as well as for the recruitment of two Forensic Psychologists who will support and assist police investigators during the course of serial cases, such as sexual assault, arson, burglaries and rape as well as on other related functions of their profession.
I am convinced that today we are in the company of well-established professionals. I trust that Professors Andreas Kapardis, David Farrington, Bryanna Fox, Olivia Hambly, as well as Mr. Thomas Olphin and Mrs Kyriaki Lambrianidou will impart their knowledge and experience gained in their respective fields, for the express purpose of enlightening the attendees of the latest and most effective techniques and approaches revolving around the subject of evidence-based offender profiling and policing.
Once again, I would like to thank you for organising this event and, also, including in your workings members of the Cyprus Police. All the best for your conference, and every success in your future endeavours.