Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has a higher number of police officers than the average of the European Union (EU) in relation to the number of inhabitants. Why is it not more effective in the fight against crime and corruption?
Namely, our country has an average of one hundred more policemen per 100,000 inhabitants than the EU average. There are 438 policemen for this number of inhabitants in BiH, while there are 333 of them in the Union.
But statistical data and efficiency estimates do not show that a larger number of police officers necessarily contribute to a better fight against crime and corruption in BiH than the European average.
Police forces across the EU today are finding ways to maintain or increase their efficiency with fewer police officers.
At the same time, an additional increase in the number of police officers is planned in BiH.
Armin Krzalic from the Center for Security Studies in Sarajevo says that the current projections of the number of police officers were made several years ago, but adds that it is standard in the EU to work more on professionalism and a corporate management approach in the management of police institutions.
“Abundance of police personnel does not necessarily mean a reduction in crime. Certain proactive methods should be more prevalent, and by applying these methods, we can count on a reduction in the crime rate and, therefore, on the trend of reducing the number of police officers,” mentioned Krzalic.
A more effective fight against corruption and crime is at the center of the conditions that BiH must meet in order to get closer to the EU. For now, the authorities are much slower in resolving objections to shortcomings in the organization of the police, political influences and connections with other countries in relation to plans for hiring new police officers.
The European Commission subtly warns against this in its latest report on BiH’s progress. While mentioning data on the number of police officers and comparing them with the European average, the report highlights a number of shortcomings of the domestic system, which is made up of 16 different police bodies with almost 17,000 police officers.
The report states that the police are not proactive in initiating investigations, and that investigations are slow. It also states that the police are susceptible to political interference, and that financial investigations and confiscation of property are extremely ineffective.
Federal Minister of the Interior of Federation of BiH (FBiH), Aljosa Campara agrees that political influence on police work is a key issue, but doubts that there will soon be a reform and depoliticization of the police, because some “political forces want control over the police.”
“Unfortunately, we have that one decentralized police system, especially in the Federation, but also from the state level to the cantons. The work of the police structures would be much easier and more efficient if we had one centralized police structure with one hierarchical subordination from top to bottom levels,” told Campara, Detektor reports.