The international Police Officer Course (IPOC)

At SWEDINT/NCGM, this year’s first International Police Officer Course for EU- and UN missions (IPOC) just finished. For the twenty participants, the training prepared them for a role as an international police peacekeeper in a peacekeeping operation or equivalent.

Detective Inspector Annette Alenius and Chief Inspector Petr Novotny at the IPOC. Photo: Jan Gustafsson - SWEDINT/NCGM
Photo: Jan Gustafsson - SWEDINT/NCGM
Photo: Jan Gustafsson - SWEDINT/NCGM

The IPOC does not focus on mission specific issues but is a generic preparatory training with the wider perspective of international peace and security in relation to policing. Specifically how officers in a role and with the task as a competent police peacekeeper can support reformation of the local police in a fragile state and/or a state in a post-conflict environment.

Among the participants, some were preparing for their first international mission while others had previous mission experience. Chief Inspector Petr Novotny from the Czech Republic, with previous experience from one mission in Liberia and twice in Kosovo, will go to Iraq in September to train local police officers for six months.

“It’s a little different from my past experience, leading classes of my own, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

As he is preparing to be a teacher himself in Iraq, Chief Inspector Novotny paid extra attention to the way the instructors on the IPOC worked.

“I liked the way the classes were conducted, the way the lectures were held by the instructors. Instead of a lot of PowerPoint-presentations and texts to be read, there was plenty of interaction and discussions. And not only with the instructors but also between us participants. We come from different countries and bring different experiences with us, which was really valuable. Another thing I really appreciated was the morning reflections, when we discussed what we had done the day before.”

Detective Inspector Annette Alenius from the Swedish Police took the course in preparation for an international mission. She has previously worked for Interpol in Southeast Asia and plan to go out again. Just like her colleague, DI Alenius appreciated the variation during the course, and gave the instructors high marks for the planning of the course.

“One part which I particularly enjoyed was the discussion around cultural differences and behaviour in different countries. It’s fascinating when you realise just how much we take for granted. Things that we do at home and never realise are done quite differently in another country.”

DI Alenius believes it would be difficult for a police officer to go out as a peacekeeper if they haven’t done the course, and want to encourage anyone interested in international police missions to take the course. And women in particular.

“When you are out there as a peacekeeper, promoting and encouraging female participation on all levels is an important part of your task, because it has an impact on security and the prospects for a sustainable peace. So obviously it is important that the police set an example by being represented by both men and women, and today the majority of peacekeepers are men.”

The course is conducted in co-operation between the Swedish Police’ National Operations Department and SWEDINT/NCGM, and the next IPOC courses are planned to start in February and August 2017.