BELGRADE – New amendments to the Serbian Law on the Police do not define clearly which jobs are incompatible with the police profession or which could cause the conflict of interest, which may negatively reflect on citizens’ security. These are the conclusions of the presentation of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy’s (BCSP) study, held on 12 of December, in Media Center Belgrade.
The question of the occupations incompatible with the police profession is a question of conflict of interest, emphasized BCSP legal researcher Sofija Mandić.
“Practicing occupations incompatible with police work constitutes a grave breach in the line of duty, even though it isn’t sufficiently precisely defined. The list of incompatible activities for the past 25 years was adopted only once, in 1992. The new legislation must answer which jobs police officers mustn’t take in their spare time”, explained Mandić.
Mandić added that the poor financial situation is the main reason why police officers in Serbia are in search of extra work.
“Almost all (97%) of the interviewed police officers feel that their wages are low. Only 3 percent of the police are completely satisfied with their job, and that more than a fifth of the respondents believes that their financial situation is unbearable”, concluded Mandić.
The latest BCBP study results are “devastating,” and the deadline for adopting a by-law on incompatible professions expired in February, said Vice President of Police Union of Serbia, Vladimir Pavićević.
“The new changes to the Law on the Police are numerous and fundamental. Bringing a large number of changes in the short term can have a negative impact on the safety of citizens, while the consequence of poor working conditions in the police can only be a further reduction in the safety of citizens”, concluded Pavićević.
All the police service in the world have a problem with jobs incompatible with the police profession. Thus, it must be legally regulated, said Executive Vice-President of the Police Association “Dr. Rudolphe Archibald Reiss” Vladimir Džigurski.
“The salary of a police officer in Serbia is below the national average, and it would be logical for them to get additional work, provided that other engagement does not bring them into a conflict of interest. It is necessary to look at the positive experiences of other countries and the way in which they have solved this problem”, said Džigurski.
Police officers are dissatisfied with the economic situation and often seek additional employment, but are even more dissatisfied with stress, poor working environment, the attitude of managers and citizens towards them, according to the Vice President of Serbian Police Union Mile Lazarević.
“The BCSP study should have paid extra attention not only to police officers but even to other employees within the Ministry of Interior whose average salaries are even lower than the regular police officers, and they also possess knowledge and skills that could be commercialized. The Serbian Police Union believes that police should be allowed to deal with private security work – it’s not the same when a police officer guards a bank, post office or casino”, says Lazarević.
Differences between the work of private security and the police create the incompatibility of these two lines of work, said Djordje Vučinić, Deputy Secretary of the Association of Private Security and Other Service Activities.
“We have information that private security personnel sometimes carry out ‘searches’ in nightclubs, which is not in accordance with the laws and it differs in relation to ‘frisking’. There is a fundamental difference in the way police work and private security is performed – the police officer always acts as a policeman and uses police powers, for which private security is not authorized”, said Vučinić.
In the current market conditions, the Association of Private Security considers that in the majority of cases police officers should be allowed to work as private security, provided that this is done in accordance with the regulations, concluded Vučinić.
Research for the study “Incompatible Occupations with the Police Profession” was done on a suitable and deliberate statistical sample, which is useful for pilot studies. The sample units were selected on the basis of membership in one of the four police unions, which were chosen for this research on the basis of the criteria of representativeness and number of members. The sample was chosen solely on the basis of how many respondents were available to participate in the survey. Two consultative meetings with police officers were realized, so the survey included members of the professional associations of police. The sample covered 796 subjects.
The study was made on request and for the needs of the Protector of Citizens within the project “Strengthening the capacity of the Protector of Citizens”, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The presentation of the research is organized by BCSP within the project “Western Balkans Pulse for Police Integrity and Trust”, supported by the European Union.