As the guardians of safe societies, police officers across Europe put themselves at risk on a daily basis in the course of their duties protecting citizens from threats and preventing crime. Deadly terrorist attacks across EU Member States serve as a tragic reminder of the changing nature of the security threats facing European countries.
In the face of these new challenges, it would be reasonable to expect an adjustment in police budgets to ensure that police officers have the skills and equipment to tackle the fight against terrorism, and yet police budgets have been cut for several years. Police budgets have reached critically low levels during the recent economic crisis and Europe’s already overstretched police forces are now facing the overwhelming task of protecting citizens from terrorist organizations and unknown, lone individuals bent on destroying the society and values Europe has built.
Lower police budgets means that there is less money available for the equipment police officers need. This may result in failure to maintain their current equipment but in the worst cases, uniforms, weapons, ammunition, computers vehicles, even fuel for police fleets can no longer be replaced or supplied. All of these are basic items that are essential before police officers can even begin thinking about combatting the terrorist threat in Europe.
EuroCOP sent an Open Letter to European policymakers to raise awareness of the challenges that Europe’s police officers face when tackling these new security challenges and was invited to speak as a panellist in a European Parliament hearing on “The fight against terrorism and the challenges for EU internal security” in April 2015.
EuroCOP emphasizes, from a police officer’s perspective, what Europe’s law enforcement officers need most in the fight against terrorism:
- Provision of adequate resources, training and equipment
- Allocation of adequate financial resource
- Enhancement of cross-border police cooperation