Story by Kiran Gharial – London North Social Secretary
In May 2016, I attended Gimborn for the “Safety on European Roads” International Police Association Seminar. There were over 20 participants from 6 different countries with the majority of attendees coming from Germany and England. Two participants came from Ireland, two from Norway, one from Australia and one from Austria. The seminar was chaired by I.P.A Section U.K vice-president Sean Hannigan.
The first day, Monday, began with an introduction to Gimborn Castle and its historical background, by 2 senior managers of the IBZ team. This was followed by an introduction from each participant of their professional background to the rest of the group – a good way to “break-the-ice”!
Following lunch our first speaker talked about the topic of ‘Detecting & Prosecuting Impaired Drivers’.This subject involved around Drink and Drug driving. The European drink-drive limits were compared and discussed with those of Scotland – surprisingly for some showing a downward trend since 2010 onwards. She then went onto her experience of the D.E.C.P i.e drug evaluation and classification program and drug recognition / evaluation as carried out by police in U.K. Drug recognition tests were next and this involved the basics of the ‘Field Impairment Test’ which is normally carried out by traffic officers. A variety of illegal drugs and their effects on the body were explained and the topic was ended with a group discussion regarding drug abuse, legislation and detecting drivers under the influence within the confides of the international participants.
The second speaker talked about “The next generation of Safer Drivers beginning with the fatal four :- Drink & Drugs, Smartphones, Speeding and Seat belts as to the common causes of road traffic collisions. He went on to talk about the partnership meeting following a fatal collision to discuss a way forward in collaboration with the partnership group to reduce the number of collisions in his constabulary. Initially, this campaign targeted driving instructors. It then continued onto target employers, schools and parents to drive the message forward regarding the driving attitudes and behaviours of young drivers. Advertising, by means of using certain animal characters to associate with certain driving offences was used as part of the targeting campaign. A simple initiative called “My Red Thumb” was also discussed regarding using a mobile phone whilst driving. Basically, this idea came about from a driver who painted his thumb-nails red to remind him of the dangers of texting whilst driving each time he got into his vehicle and drove. He finished off by talking about the “Learn to Live” campaign which targeted young, male drivers. In this real-life professionals, emergency crew and members of the public (family/friends) talked about the difficult part they had played during life-changing / threatening road-traffic collisions.
On Tuesday, the topic discussed was “Motorbike Safety Strategies” from a U.K perspective which was supported by ‘BikeSafe’ and N.P.C.C. It began with a European overview of motorbike and moped fatalities, outlining the main causes of collisions. The strategy placed in the U.K of Evaluation; Enforcement, Engineering, Education and Engagement was mentioned as well as operation “Achilles” whose purpose was to target routes with a high proportion of motorcycle fatalities. The operation was data led and included overt as well as covert enforcement of motorcyclist offenders which resulted in riders being referred to a RIDE scheme or prosecuted. In the afternoon, the speaker was from Germany and he talked about the subject of “Autonomous Vehicles Disposition” regarding how on-board computers collect data following road traffic collisions.
On Wednesday, the topic discussed was about “Forensic Collision Investigation” which introduced the role of a collision investigator who is, basically, an independent expert witness that gathers evidence at scenes of collisions and provides a full report (prosecution file) to the investigation team. In the afternoon there was a trip to the Ministry of the Interior in Dusseldorf. Here a presentation on TISPOL – Traffic Information System Police – was given by a senior German Officer. TISPOL works in partnership to make Europe’s roads safer and secure. The key focus is to achieve reductions of road deaths and serious injuries through the enforcement of road traffic offences and the education of all road users. Furthermore, it supports the security of the road network by tackling criminality and cross-border crime. This presentation was followed by a local trip downtown where dinner and drinks were available to wind down and take in the local sights of this wonderful city.
On Thursday we were presented with “Using modern technologies in pursuit of road safety”. The subject of ANPR was discussed with 4 key areas of proactive, reactive, intelligence and MISPERS was relayed to the group. The 3 main types of system (i) van-based, (ii) fixed and (iii) mobile were mentioned as well as the Back Office Facility (BOF). It was an interesting point that both Germany & Austria had strict legislative laws that made it difficult for them to employ such a system in their countries. The participants from these two countries were most impressed with this presentation. In the future, ANPR should be able to recognise E.U plates (schengen); assist with European Arrest Warrants, increase the number of fixed sites, use 3G/4G network and be in alliance with other county forces within the United Kingdom.
Following on was the “future of policing using drones”. This topic was probably the high point of the seminar with all participants showing a keen interest in the subject which ended with a practical session involving the use of a drone in action nearby the local vicinity. In the afternoon we heard about the topic of “Disaster Victim Identification” and body recovery in fatal accidents, which involved identifying victims of any major or emergency incident. An example given was that of the Tsunami in 2006 where specialist teams from around the word were called up to assist in identifying thousands of victims from this catastrophic disaster.
On the final day, Friday, we had a round-up of the topics covered during the week. Certificates were presented to all the participants. There was a closing speech by the IBZ team and we, sadly, said our farewells to our friends and colleagues as we prepared for our journey home. And not to forget that this trip would not have been completed without a visit to the ‘Turm-Bar’ for a relaxed and social atmosphere during the weekday evenings, after dinner, where everyone was invited to enjoy a pint – or two – of “Krombacher!” at a very reasonable price.
I would like to thank the staff members at Gimborn for their understanding and generous hospitality throughout my stay as well congratulating the Chair, Vice-Chair, Presenters and Interpreters for their planning, organisation and commitment in making this a successful event.
Have a specialist area of policing that you would like to teach others about or want to know more about the range of seminars that take place throughout the year at Gimborn? Please contact your local IPA branch or IPA HQ.