International Edition Volume 10 (2020)

Police Attitudes toward Body-Worn Cameras. Changes during the period of a pilot project

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Dirk Baier, Patrik Manzoni

Violence against police officers is a current issue in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The use of body-worn cameras is increasingly being discussed as a measure against this violence. In German-speaking countries, there are now various model projects in which the use of body-worn cameras is tested and scientifcally evaluated. This article presents the findings of such a model project, which was carried out in the city of Zurich in 2017. The study addresses the question of how prevalent different attitudes toward body-worn cameras are among police officers and how these attitudes changed throughout the pilot project. The findings show that body-worn cameras are rated very differently. Almost all police officers appreciate the technical features and the additional possibilities for securing evidence. However, signifcantly fewer respondents think that they protect them against violence. All in all, however, more than half of the police officers are in favour of body-worn cameras. Comparing the two surveys, which were slightly longer than half a year apart, there is a signifcant drop in the approval of body-worn cameras. 

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Compensation for Trafficked Persons. Legal obligations and their implementation in practice

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Julia Planitzer, Evelyn Probst

This article shows that although victims of human trafficking are granted legal rights to claim compensation, in practice there are gaps in implementation. Compensation for victims of human trafficking is important in order to obtain justice for the exploitation experienced and to cope with the trauma. Although there are several legal obligations and guidelines at international level on compensation for victims of human trafficking, practice shows that there are obstacles to actually obtaining compensation. Compensation procedures can take several years and in European countries it can be observed that victims of human trafficking are often referred to civil proceedings, which often means an additional burden for them. If compensation is awarded in proceedings, these judgements may not be executed due to a lack of tangible assets. It is therefore difficult in practice to obtain compensation from the offender, among other things because the offender can no longer be found, the existing assets are moved to third parties or because no legal assistance is available to execute the judgement. The article discusses how compensation is obtained from offenders in the context of Austrian criminal proceedings based on a specifc human traffcking case. In this case, the victims were awarded amounts of compensation in criminal proceedings.

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Using the Smartphone at the Wheel. Flying blind with consequences

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Sheila Burger, Monika Pilgerstorfer

Distraction is currently one of the most common causes of road traffic accidents. Conventional mobile phones have long been an integral part of our everyday lives, but by now, everyday life without multifunctional smartphones is no longer conceivable for most people. In addition to "merely" making calls and writing text messages, the options offered by mobile communications allow a multitude of further applications as well as potential distractions in traffic. However, distraction while driving is particularly dangerous. In 2017, distraction and inattention were presumed to be the main causes of accidents for 35 % of car occupants involved in accidents and 34 % of those killed (Statistik Austria 2017). The results of the studies conducted by the Austrian Road Safety Board [Kuratorium für Verkehrssicherheit, KFV] confirm the risk of distraction as it was observed in 50 % of the observations of drivers. This applies in particular to young drivers. 50 % of them accept calls while driving and 38 % do so without using a hands-free car kit. Another problem is that other mobile phone or smartphone activities, such as reading text messages (33 %), writing (25 %) or using other messenger services (25 %), are very popular while driving, especially among young drivers. It has been shown that distraction due to mobile phones or smartphones greatly increases the risk of traffic accidents. The driving simulator study conducted by the Austrian Road Safety Board has also demonstrated that reading and typing on mobile phones or smartphones leads to significantly slower reactions to critical events. There is frequently a lack of awareness of the dangers of distraction in traffic, which has led to an increased risk potential in recent years. The projection of a previous representative survey of 1,000 Austrian motorists aged 17 and over, commissioned by the Austrian Road Safety Board and carried out in 2014 by Marketmind with a focus on the mobile phone or smartphone at the wheel, showed that in Austria around 200,000 text messages are sent daily from the car. A targeted comprehensive package of measures is therefore needed.

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An Overview of the Research on the Dark Figure of Crime in Germany. Concept, methods and development

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Rita Haverkamp

Crime registered by the police describes only part of the crime actually committed. In order to illuminate the dark figure, which varies from offence to offence, studies are carried out in criminology on victimisation experiences and self-reported delinquency in addition to the data on the known figure. This article deals with the research on the dark figure of crime in Germany. Particular attention is given to the different aspects of the dark figure, the objectives and the related different methodical approaches as well as the problems of the survey techniques in the context of the research on the dark figure. The main purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the development and the knowledge gained by the German research on the dark figure from its beginnings in the 1970s to the present day. In this context, the problem of comparing the data on the dark figure with the data on the known figure and finally the perspectives of the research on the dark figure in Germany will also be discussed.

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The Fear of Crime among Older Adults in Austria. An urban-rural comparison of the influence of social disorder on the fear of crime in public spaces

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Rebekka Rohner, Stefan Hopf, Tanja Obex

So far, little is known about the fear of crime among older adults (65+) in Austria. Based on the comparison of an urban, semi-rural and rural region, the present study therefore examines the security perception of older men and women in public spaces. Starting from the great importance that the immediate living environment has for older people, the question of how the phenomena of social and physical disorder in the living environment influence the feeling of security and what role individual attitude towards such phenomena plays is examined. At the same time, in the SI-ALT project (Police and age: Fostering the subjective sense of security of older and very old men and women in public spaces), 756 older Austrians in the three pilot regions were interviewed face-to-face using a standardised questionnaire. The binary-logistic regression analysis shows that older women and people in urban areas, as well as people who have noticed social disorder in their neighbourhood and see it as a problem, take security measures and thus demonstrate a higher level of fear.

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Interrogation-Related Challenges of Using Interpreters. Analysis and description of problem patterns for the optimisation of interrogation of foreign-language suspects

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Carsten Schumann

The use of interpreters in police interrogations often presents major challenges for those in charge. The particular problems of interrogations of foreign-language suspects can lead to failure to meet the interrogation objectives, which may endanger the criminal proceedings as a whole. Interrogation exercises are regularly performed using interpreters at the Police Academy of Saxony-Anhalt. These are subsequently evaluated and analysed with regard to problem situations that have arisen. Problem patterns were identifed through systematic evaluations of the exercises performed so far. These are presented in the following article and converted into initial recommendations for the organisation of police interrogation.

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Error Management Culture in the Police Force. The effect of organisational structure and masculinity constructions on dealing with mistakes

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Kai Seidensticker

A large part of police activity takes place visibly in public spaces and is affected by different dynamics that can be influenced only to some extent in approaches. In this context, the relationship of the police organisation to the occurrence of mistakes may come as a surprise, but it is mostly clear within the organisation: mistakes do not happen! It quickly becomes clear that this attitude cannot contribute to identifying the value and opportunities of using mistakes profitably, to preventing mistakes or to learning from mistakes systematically. However, it is questionable why it appears noticeable that mistakes are approached in such a negative manner within the police. In order to approach this question, the structural level of the organisation and the individual level of the persons involved will be taken into account. In particular, the influence of the masculinity models of police culture on how to deal with mistakes clearly shows how approaching mistakes in a negative way is (re)produced by the relationship between structure and action.

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Rights of Child Victims and the Role of the Police

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Daniela Amann, Marion Neunkirchner

How can the police contribute to making justice in Austria more child-friendly? Children who have been victims of violence need special attention and appropriate measures to be effectively protected from secondary and repeated victimisation. The police, as the first point of contact, are a key player in ensuring this protection. The following article discusses the role of the police in safeguarding the rights and needs of child victims. First, the legal framework of the individual assessment is described, followed by the practical challenges of implementation. Finally, the project results are used to suggest concrete ways of improving police practice.

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