- Honourable Attorney General of the Republic of Cyprus,
- Honourable Auditor General of the Republic of Cyprus,
- Professors Rebecca Milne and Andreas Kapardis,
- Chair of the Board of Transparency International-Cyprus,
- Distinguished Guests,
- Ladies and Gentlemen,
First and foremost, I would like to extend my gratitude to the seminar’s organizers for giving me the opportunity to address it. It is my conviction that events of this kind and quality—where individuals from diverse backgrounds, yet with common objectives and orientations, congregate, interact and, most importantly, become receptors of concrete knowledge—should be whole-heartedly embraced by all domestic pertinent agencies and organisations. Hence, the Cyprus Police’s presence and participation.
It is widely accepted that scholarly input into the field of policing has been having an incremental impact since the last four decades or so. This very development, has paved the way to the inception of a new discourse, in which the police and the academic community alike, complement one another at even rate. As a result of which, the police have profoundly advanced in all aspects of policing, both on an operational and organisational level.
Relatedly, the discipline of psychology has played a tremendous role in this evolvement. Indeed, theories and practices deriving from the realm of psychology have greatly influenced police approaches toward an array of issues. That is, crowd controls, hostage negotiations, interviews, interrogations, lie detection, victim support, stress management, and decision making under duress, to cite a few.
In line with the seminar’s focal area, the Cyprus Police has recently paid a lot of attention to the investigation and detection of white collar crime. Particularly, fraud cases that involve the abuse of position and failing to disclose information. Unquestionably, in the past few years, the Cyprus Police, has managed to investigate and detect a number of fraud cases, many of which have ended in hefty convictions. However, I must emphasise that for this success, the Attorney General’s and the Auditor General’s Offices merit appreciation, for they have put an enormous effort into this.
The current success in bringing to justice many fraud cases is not mere coincidence. It is the aftermath of the collective input of state agencies and agents dedicated to fighting crime. It is the result of a broader and collective zero tolerance approach, which aims to dismantle corporations, groups, and individuals, involved in tax evasion, bribery, money laundering, embezzlement, and the like.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are well aware of the considerable social and financial consequences of economic crime. Therefore, the Cyprus Police, in order to effectively combat such crimes, has paid special attention to the allocation of personnel to posts that investigate financial crime and, also, to the specialised training of those officers.
Broadly speaking, the Cyprus Police highly values education and training. A testament to this, is the improving level of education police recruits and officers receive, once they enter the ranks of the Police. It is expected that as of this year, the Cyprus Police Academy will join forces with the University of Cyprus and upon the successful completion of five policing related modules in a semester at the latter institution, a joint diploma will be offered to police recruits by the two institutions after they complete their training at the Police Academy. In addition, from next year, police inspectors, as part of their formal training, will have to undertake three modules in concern to police leadership and management, at the University of Cyprus.
Moreover, the Police Academy, in its attempt to elevate life-long learning, offers a great deal of training courses, as well as sends numerous police members to specialised courses in countries abroad. To illustrate, in yesteryear alone, the Cyprus Police sent 168 of its members abroad for training purposes and, another 1068 members received training locally.
Indeed, as the policing landscape rapidly changes, so too the Police’s response must parallel such changes and be able to decisively meet the challenges which arise from the contemporary criminogenic environment. We live in an epoch where police organisations undergo vigorous transition and, as a result, police undertakings progressively discard traditional investigative methods that entail coercion, machismo, arbitrariness, and intimidation. Precisely, today’s effective policing, investigation in particular, necessitates tactful, methodical, knowledge-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 interviewing techniques are not means to end, and as such, they must never be disentangled from fairness and respectfulness.
That being said, the Police should be prudent and ensure that a balance between force and fairness is maintained at all times. After all, being an integral part of a fair, transparent, and nonpartisan criminal justice system should be the greatest obligation of any police organisation.
Nonetheless, as we all know quite well, all fraud cases entail some form of deception, and as such, suspects, to a varied extent, become articulate and skilful in deceiving others, either that is a natural person, a private entity or the state. Importantly, this very skill, and habit, if I may say, is also present in police interviewing rooms, where investigators venture to discover the truth and bring to the fore incriminating evidence. Yet, how do we go about in bringing justice to light? What is to be learnt from experts in the field? Investigators must be able to read between the lines and, also, to decipher 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.
I am convinced that today, we have in front of us bright minds who will provide us with useful and applied knowledge, tailored to needs of front-line agents. Professor Andrea Kapardis and Rebecca Milne, we are at your disposal.
Once again, I would like to acknowledge the commitment of the Auditor General’s Office and the Cyprus Branch of Transparency International in suppressing corruption and, also, to thank them for organising this event. I reassure you that the Cyprus Police will continue fighting corruption with an incessant zeal and commitment, notwithstanding its entrenched, multidimensional, and clandestine character.