Policing in the 21st century brings new challenges and greater public expectations, although with more limited economic resources. Dealing with these challenges requires substantial change. Yet debate continues about what changes are exactly needed. Prior to the EU-funded 'Comparative police studies in the EU' (COMPOSITE) project, change management in European police forces had not been investigated comprehensively. A 15-member consortium, based in 10 European countries, aimed to address this gap as well as to improve the planning and execution of change initiatives across these different contexts. The project also planned to develop joint European capabilities during its 4 year undertaking between August 2010 and July 2014. Project researchers interviewed police stakeholders, including more than 800 officers of various ranks. Topics included opportunities and threats, maintenance of core competencies, knowledge transfer, and the use of information and communications technology (ICT). Additionally, the project prepared case studies on topics such as riot control, harbour policing, human trafficking and the use of social media. Key results included an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in each country, a compendium of best practices and a diagnostic tool to assess knowledge transfer. The teams also prepared guidelines covering the use of ICT in policing. The second phase of the project saw more in-depth investigations of key topics, including the evolution towards a national police force in the Netherlands and changes in policies on victim care in the Spanish police. Surveys were also conducted in all 10 countries aimed at examining the effects of change management on performance and individual behaviour. Team members presented their work at numerous conferences and workshops, creating considerable interest among stakeholders . In addition, the project published brochures, and various professional and academic papers. Also the project produced a preliminary version of a planned book of photographic essays depicting police work and is currently exploring ways to disseminate the photos and core insights to a wider public. In this context a photo gallery and also a video was produced. The COMPOSITE project produced valuable insights into changes in European police management and practices. The findings are expected to be incorporated in future academic curricula, and to facilitate a more integrated European police landscape.
Police, policing, change management, police studies