TIRANA – There is a lack of transparency both in the way the budget of the Ministry of Interior is used and how police personnel get promoted or punished, coupled with worse working conditions than the rest of the region. This was concluded at internal consultations organized by Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) on 27 December 2018.
The police vetting process will affect the human resources of the police personnel, although the implementation has not yet started. IDM Researcher Rovena Sulstarova listed some of the recommendations of establishing clear and transparent procedures for career advancement of police officers based on the principle of meritocracy and providing ongoing training on ethics and police integrity prescribed in the annual training plan.
“Currently, the police force consists of about 10.463 police personnel with more than half constituting the lower ranks. The process of career advancement is very slow and difficult,” Sulstarova concluded.
Better police force planning to renew the “old” police force in Albania
Police union association representative that participated in the consultations raised several important issues for the MoI and police leadership to be taken into consideration.
“Firstly, the working conditions and wages are not commensurate to the actual police work, nor are they comparable with the rest of the Balkan region. Also, the median age of the police force has increased to 44,5 years old and this will lead to future problems of the police personnel. Currently, the only way to renew the police force is planning by the number of officers that are retiring,” the representative highlighted.
Another important aspect is the culture of impunity for police misconduct, especially for the managerial ranks within the state police. Participant representing the Security Academy pointed out that integrity leads to a greater sense of security and increased citizens’ trust. The research work of civil society is valuable contribution in terms of complementing the police institutions research. The Security Academy, with the support of donors, tries to update its curriculum and provide tailored training to the police officers, said Security Academy representative.
Direct procurement practices can lead to public fund mismanagement
The final consultation session focused on issues of better financial management. The need for increased transparency of the State Police budget program execution and direct procurement procedures reduction to avoid mismanagement of public funds was highlighted as the main issue to be addressed. Recommendations of the State Audit Institution also needed to be addressed.
“The budget of the State Police constitutes about 80% of the MoI total budget. Following the audit law amendments in 2016, the audit of the police budget is conducted by its own audit structure independent form the MoI audit,” explained IDM researcher Redion Qirjazi.
A civil society representative that engaged in the consultations argued that in recent year the state police budget has increased significantly, but the parliamentary hearings in times of budget approval are very scarce and the follow up of budget execution is lacking.
Participant from the MoI audit emphasized the need to improve state police audit capacities for Performance Auditing and specialized audits such as ICT etc. Another concern was raised with regard to the lower degree of discretion on the side of MoI in controlling the state police budget. Nonetheless, the Minister of Interior can issue an order to audit procedures carried out by the state police in specific cases, as in the case of police uniforms.