This module is a resource for lecturers
This section contains suggestions for in-class or pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section.
The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of between 30 and 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities before providing feedback to the entire class. Although it is theoretically possible to have the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it is more challenging. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussion in a large class is to simply ask students to self-organize into groups of five or six by turning to the other students sitting close to them. When feedback is required, the lecturer should use discretion, because not all groups will be able to provide feedback every time. The lecturer should make random selections and try to ensure that all groups get the opportunity to provide feedback at least once.
Exercises are tagged according to the level of difficulty (easy, medium, advanced) and estimated length. While easy and medium level exercises can be delivered in all contexts, advanced exercises may be more suitable to graduate level students. However, as students' prior knowledge and exposure to these issues varies widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context.
The difficulty level and length of some exercises can be modified. For such exercises possible modifications are included in the lecturer guidelines.
Exercise 1: Brainstorming on definitions of police accountability, integrity, and oversight
Difficulty: Easy, Length: 20 minutes
The purpose of this exercise is to warm up students to the main concepts before the presentation of the key issues. Discussions during this exercise would give the lecturer an idea of students' prior knowledge and exposure to these concepts.
- Introduction (2 mins): Divide the students into three groups. Each group receives a flip chart and discusses one of the three concepts: 1- Police Accountability, 2- Police Integrity, 3- Police Oversight
- Instruct the students not to look at course readings or use the Internet during the group discussions.
- Group discussion (10 mins): During the group discussions students should endeavor to write down a definition of those terms and/or write down the concepts, actors, values that are associated with those terms. (For example, prompt the group discussing police integrity, by asking which values they would associate with a police officer with integrity - such as honesty, professionalism, dedication etc.).
- Wrap up (3 mins): Briefly go through the answers on the flipcharts and hang the papers on the wall for comparison at the end of the class.
- Briefing (5 mins): At the end of the class, come back to the flipcharts, and ask the group representatives whether they would define those terms differently, or add anything to their flipcharts.
If the level of students is more advanced, consider asking the students to give examples or create their own scenarios illustrating a lack of accountability, or an act in breach of integrity.
Exercise 2: Group discussion - the role of the police and democratic policing
Difficulty: Easy/Medium, Length: 30 minutes
The objective of this exercise is to enable students to discuss the role of the police in democracies. This exercise can be used before or after the lecture on the subject matter. See the modifications for post-lecture discussion questions.
- Introduction (2 mins): Divide the students into four groups. Each group gets a flip chart and discusses one of the questions listed below.
Group 1: In your opinion, what is the role of the police in a society? What are the main responsibilities and duties of the police?
Group 2: What do you understand from the concept of 'democratic policing'? List associated terms, ideas, actors. Give examples of democratic policing in practice.
Group 3: How would you define 'human rights-based policing'? What implications policing has on human rights?
Group 4: In some countries the main law enforcement agency is called 'police force' while in others 'police service'. In your opinion, what is the difference between a police force and a police service? Structure your response in terms of approaches to- and priorities of policing. If you argue that there is a difference between a police force and a police service, give examples of actions of a typical 'police force' vs. a typical 'police service' in the context of managing public assemblies.
- Group discussion (12 mins): The groups should discuss the questions and select one or two representatives to briefly present their discussions and ideas.
- Briefing (16 mins): Each group representative presents their topic in three minutes, the remaining time is left for the plenary discussion. If time allows, after the lecture on this topic, discussions of the groups could be briefly revisited.
This exercise could also be implemented after the lecture on the role of the police. In that case, it is recommended to have a roundtable discussion, focusing on the following questions:
- Do you think the way the National Police 's mission statement, and main duties are in line with democratic and human rights-based policing? If not, what is missing? How would you redefine the mission statement in accordance with democratic and human rights-based policing? Instruct the students to check the website of the national police service, and/or the Law on the Police in their country.
- Based on the news stories on the media and/or your personal experience with the police, to what extent do the police act in accordance with democratic and human rights-based policing? Give examples.
Exercise 3: Group discussion - Scenario on the reform of police complaints system
Difficulty: Medium/Advanced, Length: 50 mins
The purposes of this exercise are to prompt students to critically assess the police complaints system from the perspective of different actors involved - victim, the police, and oversight actors; identify practices in line with international standards and bad practices; and draft policy recommendations.
- Introduction (5 mins): Divide the students into four groups, introduce briefly the case and the exercise.
- Group discussion (20 mins): Each group assumes one of the institutional roles (the National Police, Police Association, the Ombudsman Institution and the media, victims support NGO) and reviews the scenario and answers the question accordingly.
- Plenary discussion (25 mins): Each group presents their position in the plenary (up to 4-5 mins), followed by a brief plenary discussion
Case study discussion
This exercise refers to the case study of "Country X" included in the Case Study section of this Module. The related discussion questions are:
- Review the proposals from the perspective of:
- The National Police Service (Group 1)
- The Association of Police Officers (Group 2)
- An NGO specialized on assistance to victims (Group 3)
- Ombudsman institution and the media (Group 4)
- Identify the problematic proposals and risks; and discuss their implications for police accountability.
- Come up with at least three alternative proposals for a more effective police accountability system.
For more advanced students, and for longer sessions this exercise can be transformed into a role-play with students representing various actors and discussing the proposals in the concept paper in the format of an inter-agency working group. To add more complexity to the exercise, lecturers may include additional positive and sub-optimal proposals into the strategic concept; and ask the questions 'Which proposals are in line with international standards? Which ones contradict?' to students who are more familiar with international legal and normative instruments.
Exercise 4: Categorization: Criminal offence vs. integrity violation
Difficulty: Easy/Medium, Length 20 Mins
Note: This exercise is adapted from an exercise in the Training Manual on Police Integrity (Costa and Thorens, 2015, Module 5). This is a quick exercise to show students the differences between criminal offence and breaches of disciplinary/ethical codes, on duty and off duty. The exercise would be especially beneficial for students who are not familiar with policing and law; since the short scenarios listed below would exemplify what is meant by a breach of an integrity standard, what is generally considered as a criminal offence.
Breach of disciplinary/ethical codes
- A police officer constantly makes inappropriate, and at times, sexist jokes to his gay colleague targeting his sexual orientation.
- A young girl with mini-dress walks into the police station to report that she has been sexually harassed by the owner of a bar she visited. The police officer does not write a report due to the lack of evidence and warns the girl to dress appropriately next time she goes out.
- A team of police officers is investigating a drug cartel case, they identify a young boy who is not part of the cartel, but may have crucial information, because he may be related to a member of the cartel. To facilitate the arrest and interrogation of the boy, police officers plant a small bag of drugs in his pocket during a stop and search.
- After duty a police officer drives home. On the way she sees a couple fighting at a bus stop. The man seems very aggressive. The officer neither stops to intervene, nor calls her colleagues.
- An officer apprehends a woman for supporting a terrorist organization. Although there is not enough evidence for arresting her, they suspect that she has provided explosive material to a terrorist group. However, she is uncooperative throughout the interrogation. One of the police officers threatens her with raping her daughter. She then confesses that she provided the explosive material.
- A police officer's girlfriend is a foreign national residing in the country with her student visa. Until she finds a proper full-time job, she overstays with her student visa and continues working part time. The officer violently beats her over an argument and threatens her with reporting her to immigration authorities if she reports him to the police.
- There is a new training on the use of tasers for police officers, however, only one officer can attend the training. The supervisor sends a male officer instead of an equally qualified female officer, because he thinks male officers are more likely to be deployed in dangerous and violent circumstances, where the use of taser would be more necessary. Plus, the supervisor heard from another colleague that the female officer plans to have a baby soon.
- An officer witnesses an incident where her colleague takes substantive bribes from an arms trafficker. She does not report the bribery to her supervisors in exchange for receiving a part of the bribe money.
- A police officer is investigating a complaint by a bartender working at a pub, concerning sexual harassment allegedly committed by her colleague. Several weeks have passed since she lodged the complaint, but she has not received any information. She calls the police station to inquire about her complaint, the investigating officer says it is confidential information, and he cannot provide any information until the investigation is concluded. (In fact, information on the complaint is not confidential)
- Police arrest a transgender suspect. The suspect says she is a transgender woman and would like to be searched by a woman police officer. Officers do not believe her and say that there are no available female officers close by, so the male officers search her. They then place her into male section of the detention center. She is sexually assaulted in the toilet by other detainees.
- Introduction (2 mins): Divide the students into small groups, introduce the exercise. Each group receives the table and the list short scenarios. Instruct them to put in the number of each scenario in the relevant box.
- Group discussion and exercise (10 mins):Visit each group and facilitate their discussion if necessary. Encourage students to reflect on the issue of on duty and off duty conduct (and the extent to which ethical codes apply to both).
- Briefing (8 mins):Swiftly go through each scenario and ask the students where they placed them in the matrix.
If there is more time for this exercise, lecturers may discuss with students the importance of upholding ethical values and integrity standards off-duty. Lecturer may ask students whether serving as an enforcer of the law, would entail additional ethical responsibilities for police officers even when they are off-duty. Lecturers may also wish to discuss the potential challenges with holding police officers to account for crimes committed off duty.
There is a rich body of scholarship on this subject, covering 'moonlighting' (the private employment of off-duty officers) (Stoughton, 2016); the asymmetrical application of legal and criminal justice provisions for crimes by and against police officers (Bedi, 2017), exploring the definitions of off-duty police misconduct (Martinelli, 2007). In the context of moonlighting, the case of an off-duty police officer working as a security guard deploying his stun gun against an eleven-year-old girl who allegedly stole about $50 of goods from a grocery store; could be used to spark discussion among students.
Exercise 5: Analysis of ECtHR judgments
Difficulty: Advanced, Length 70 mins
The purpose of this exercise is to have students analyse landmark court judgments on the themes of this Module, and critically discuss the case from a comprehensive accountability perspective.
- Introduction (5 mins): Divide the students into three groups and introduce the exercise. Each group analyses one court judgment and briefly present the case, violations, and the court ruling to the other groups.
- Group work (30 mins): During this phase, groups should browse through the court ruling and answer the following questions to prepare for their presentation:
- What are the basic facts of the case?
- Which human rights are violated?
- Which police accountability mechanisms failed before the case was brought before the ECtHR?
- Which oversight actors, and accountability mechanisms/procedures shall be in place to prevent such incidents in the future?
- Group presentations and discussion (30 mins): Following the group work, reconvene the plenary. Each group presents their case to the other groups, followed by a plenary discussion along the lines of the above listed questions.
- Group 1: Whistle-blowing - Guja v. Republic of Moldova (No. 14277/04)
- Mr Guja was dismissed from the Prosecutor General's Office for providing the press with two documents which disclosed interference by a high-ranking politician in pending criminal proceedings concerning police officers. The Court considered, in particular, that the public interest in being informed about undue pressure outweighed the interest in maintaining public confidence in the Prosecutor General's Office.
- Group 2: Gender and Police Accountability - Aydın v. Turkey (No. 57/1996/676/866)
- The case concerns the beating and rape of a Turkish girl of Kurdish origin (aged 17 at the time) by Turkish law enforcement agencies during detention. The applicant further claimed that the family was intimidated and harassed by the authorities to coerce them into withdrawing their complaint before the European Court of Human Rights.
Alternative cases for Group 2:
- Failure of the police to investigate SGBV - S.Z. v Bulgaria (No. 29263/12)
- The case concerns ineffective investigations for the false imprisonment, assault, rape and trafficking in human beings perpetrated against the applicant. The applicant complained of the lack of an investigation into the alleged involvement of two police officers and the failure to prosecute two of her assailants, and of the excessive length of time taken to investigate and try the case.
- Domestic violence committed by a police officer, systemic failure to investigate - Eremia and Others v. the Republic of Moldova (No. 3564/11)
- The first applicant and her two daughters complained about the Moldovan authorities' failure to protect them from the violent and abusive behaviour of their husband and father, who was a police officer.
- Group 3: Police detention and accountability - M.S. v. the United Kingdom (No. 24527/08)
- The case concerns detention conditions in police custody and particularly the treatment of persons with mental health conditions.
For better context relevancy, the lecturer may consider choosing cases reviewed or adjudicated by Inter-American Court of Human Rights, African Court of Human and People's Rights.
Exercise 6: Group discussion - Scenario on SGBV
Difficulty: Medium, Length: 25 mins
The purpose of this exercise is to prompt students to think critically about police officers committing SGBV, especially in the context of police couples or families.
You are a police chief at a police station. Among your staff, there is a married couple working in different departments. The female officer took an unscheduled/unplanned leave, while the male officer continued to work as normal. After a few days, the female officer returned to work. The next day, a colleague of the female officer approaches you, and reports confidentially that the female officer was indeed exposed to violence by her husband (and that was the reason why she took leave) but she is afraid to report this incident herself, instead she brought it up in a conversation with that colleague.
- How would you react to the colleague reporting the incident?
- What would you do? Explain the steps you plan to take.
- What kind of mechanisms should there be in place for the perpetrator to be held accountable?
- Introduction (2 mins): Divide the students into four groups and introduce the scenario.
- Group discussion (15 mins): Students discuss the scenario and answer the questions.
- Briefing (8 mins): Invite each group to briefly respond to one question. Facilitate the discussion by touching upon the issues of confidentiality of complaint mechanisms, ensuring the safety of the victim, rights of the accused officer, and appropriate measures for during the investigation.
If more time is available for this exercise for this exercise, students may be allowed to refer to 'The International Association of Police Chief's 'Model Policy on Domestic Violence by Police Officers and structure their responses accordingly.
Exercise 7: Case study - Scenario on profiling
Difficulty: Medium/Advanced, Length 30 mins
The section on Diversity in Policing briefly refers to links between lack of diversity in policing, discriminatory profiling and implications for accountability.
In addition, this TEDx video by Jamil Jivani (10:37 minutes) provides a brief overview of profiling by the police and its potential implications (the section between 0:00-2:10 is especially insightful). If there is more time, lecturers may consider showing the TED Talk on racial profiling (see Additional Teaching Tools).
You are working at a human rights NGO in a city, which is on the border between Daxland and Zayland. These two bordering countries have been in conflict for the last two decades. Daxland accuses Zayland of supporting separatist ethnic groups of Zay origin in Daxland territories. Zayland accuses Daxland of oppressing the Zay minorities living in south Daxland.
The city your NGO is based in is heavily populated by the Zay minority in Daxland. In the past, there have been indeed acts of terrorism by groups that describe themselves as 'saviors of the Zay people'; but the heavy crackdown by the Government of Daxland has almost completely destroyed the terrorist groups. Nevertheless, the Dax Government continues to heavily police the city. There is a massive police presence in the city, officers often conducting random vehicle checks, stop and searches, and aggressive patrolling. Your NGO receives complaints, almost on a daily basis, concerning the treatment of police officers to Zay minorities.
Finally, in an attempt to establish trust with the Zay community, the Dax police launched cooperation and dialogue with the NGOs working in human rights and policing. In this framework, the police called on selected NGOs to review their policing policies and practices in that city and come up with recommendations. In the first meeting with the NGOs, the Chief Police made a presentation that they are aware of 'profiling' complaints, but the criticisms are unjustified because the crime rate is higher in that city compared to other cities of Daxland. He says 'profiling' has been a policing strategy in use for many decades to effectively allocate limited policing resources to the most problematic areas and issues. He adds, while the terrorist cells are not active anymore, the threat is still there, and therefore according to the principles of 'preventive policing', the police should take all the measures to prevent sleeping cells from being active again, or new terrorist groups from forming. The Police Chief concludes by stating that she hopes you consider these facts while writing your report.
As the NGO representative,
- What are the key problems in this scenario from a human rights-based policing perspective?
- Which international human rights standards are violated?
- What questions do you ask the police chief? Specifically, what data do you ask to look at?
- What preliminary recommendations could you give on how police officers may be better held accountable for stop and search decisions?
- Introduction (2 mins): Divide the students into four groups and introduce the scenario.
- Group discussion (10 mins): Students discuss the scenario and answer the questions.
- Plenary discussion (13 mins): Invite each group to briefly respond to one question and facilitate discussion in plenary.
The Government of Country X has been considering the introduction of body-worn cameras (BWCs) in policing, particularly within the patrol units of the police directorate in the capital city. In doing so, the Interior Ministry consulted with law enforcement and asked the Chief of Police in the capital city to conduct an assessment and provide professional opinion of the Police on whether or not BWCs shall be introduced, and if so, the key issues to be considered for the regulatory framework. The reason for choosing the capital city as a potential pilot area is the growing public debate on policing practices. The city has received large numbers of immigrants over the last ten years. Due to a lack of effective urban development and social integration policies, the periphery of the capital city has seen the development of parallel immigrant communities. The communities are suffering from a lack of quality education and social services, high youth unemployment, higher-than average crime rates, over-policing and aggressive stop and search policies, as well as high levels of mistrust between the police and the immigrant community, especially exacerbated in the wake of police shootings and ill-treatment of young male immigrants.
The police directorate in the capital does not have the in-house expertise on BWCs; and in an attempt to assess the issue comprehensively, the Police Chief decided to organize an expert meeting on body-worn cameras and police accountability.
The workshop will be attended by the following stakeholders, whose roles and respective aims are as follows:
Chief of Police: You do not have specific expertise or a strong stance on the issue of body worn cameras. However, you feel pressured by the Ministry to provide a sound expert opinion. That is why you organized the meeting to hear all sides to the issue. Be prepared to ask the right questions to steer the discussion; in particular on regulating the use of body cameras, managing the video material (retention, storage, deletion), potential implications on officer behaviour (especially with respect to use of force, arrests, stop and search, response to ongoing dangerous situations), on human rights especially the right to privacy, and on criminal investigation and prosecution processes.
Head of the internal investigation department of the Police: You oversee the department investigating public complaints against the police.You believe that body cameras would provide more reliable evidence in investigating the complaints and would make your job much easier. Thus, you strongly argue for introducing them. Before the meeting carry out research to find out whether body-worn cameras would indeed lead to a decrease in public complaints against police officers (serving as a deterrent against frivolous accusations) and whether body worn cameras would lead to faster resolution of investigations.
Head of the patrol unit of the Police: As the head of patrol unit, you need more manpower and not cameras. In your view, if there are any resources available, they should be invested into recruitment, and equipping the officers with a range of tools allowing graduated response in escalated situations. Your patrol officers are already working under tough conditions and are subjected to heavy criticizms by the public. In your view, body cameras will only make your officers' work harder. Carry out research on whether body cameras have any significant impact on officer behaviour or on police community relations. You may support your arguments with examples from other countries where the use of BWCs are widespread, with little effect on decreasing police wrongdoing. Also highlight the expenses associated with body cameras and suggest alternative ways to improve patrol performance and police-community relations.
Representative of the bar association: You support the introduction of body cameras, but you have strong reservations about the access to, and ownership of, body camera footage, especially during criminal proceedings. Present the legal risks and challenges when immediately after an incident, the officer is given access to the camera footage and prepares his/her statement/defence accordingly; while the civilian complainant is not given access. Also conduct research on whether BWC evidence tends to favour the police officer and not necessarily help the victims during criminal proceedings as expected.
Deputy public prosecutor: In the regional and international judicial networks you are in, you have heard repeatedly the benefits of having video evidence in criminal proceedings. Carry out research on the positive impact of body worn cameras to the judicial processes.
Representative of a company producing and selling body cameras to police services around the world: Your mission is to convince the expert workshop participants, especially the police chief, on the necessity to introduce body cameras. Discuss the role of technology in making policing more efficient and effective than ever before. Argue that body cameras are an indispensable element of police accountability and transparency. Additionally, explain how body camera technology will evolve in the near future, to include integrated face-recognition feature, and argue how useful it would be in policing and surveilling immigrant communities.
Representative of an NGO specialized in police surveillance, privacy and human rights: You are extremely sceptical of the use of body cameras. Stress implications for intrusion of privacy when recording interactions with offenders, suspects, or victims. Also highlight the potential issues with the storage of the data, security issues, retention period, deletion of the data and so forth. Present concrete policy recommendations to regulate the use of body cameras in a human rights compliant way.
Professor of Law at University B: As a law professor, you are wary of the reliance of the prosecution to the body worn camera footage. Discuss the issues with respect to officer discretion on turning on and off the cameras, the limited angle provided by the cameras, and concerns of prosecutors' over-reliance on body camera evidence.
Journalist covering criminal cases: You are in favour of introducing body cameras. Body camera footage would make your stories richer in terms of content and would attract more attention from your audience. Argue that citizens and by-standers film the police citizen interaction, but BWCs would provide a different angle from the police perspective; and would help your reporting be more objective. Discuss the potential impact of BWC footage on the public perception of the police. Research how BWC footage has transformed the way the media covers police and crime stories. Discuss also the impact of BWC footage in a story drawing public attention to a case, which may not enjoy the same level of attention if reported in plain text.
Members of the public: Members of the public and community leaders are invited to attend the workshop. They are encouraged to ask questions to the experts and engage in the discussion.
Note: Depending on the size of the group, more roles could be added, such as a Professor of Sociology focusing on behavioural changes of officers with BWC, another NGO in favour of BWCs etc.
Before the exercise:
Briefly introduce the key debates a week before the proposed date of exercise. The 30-minute - New York Times documentary 'The Rise of Body Cameras' is strongly recommended, either as an in-class activity or pre-class activity the week before the exercise. Introduce the exercise, distribute the roles, and instruct the students to prepare for their respective roles. In preparing for their roles, students should not only conduct academic research, but should support their arguments with examples from other countries, high-profile cases, news clips and so forth.
Implementing the exercise:
- Introduction(5 mins):Set up the class in the form of a big roundtable, invite all students to take their seat around the table, together with their notes, materials etc.
- Role Play (60 mins): Students simulate the expert workshop meeting, in accordance with discussion pointers provided in their role instructions. The lecturer may choose to assume the role of a member of the public and intervene to ask questions to steer the discussion if necessary.
- Debrief (15 mins): After the role play is finished, debrief with participants, discuss what the Police Chief's position on the BWCs shall be, what key issues should be included in the Chief's professional opinion to be sent to the Ministry. Ask participants how they felt about researching this complex issue, discussing various aspects and strongly arguing for/against the introduction of BWCs.
For a simplified version, lecturers may convert this exercise into a World Café. In that case, lecturers introduce the topic the week before the exercise, provide students with necessary reading material; and assign three topics to be discussed at three desks during the World Café exercise. Possible topics could be:
- BWCs and the right to privacy and data protection
- BWCs and potential impact public complaints
- BWCs in judicial proceedings.
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