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Workshop on the efficient responsiveness of SPOCs held in North Macedonia

On the 21st of June 2022 the regional project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSC WB) organized the Regional Workshop “Real-time interoperability: the efficient responsiveness of SPOCs” in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia. The Workshop was attended by representatives of the beneficiary countries of the CSC WB project involved in international police cooperation, police data bases and IT systems, while international expertise was provided by representatives of the Italian Ministry of Interior, Interpol, Europol and Frontex. The event was the second out of three workshops covering the Single Point of Contact (SPOCs) and interoperability of information systems and databases and it was organised in the framework of the project’s Output 7 that is dealing with interoperability and information exchange with the aim to support the improvement of databases and information systems among the Western Balkans Beneficiaries’ Police services with relevant EU and Interpol systems and databases.

The Workshop, which was opened by the Deputy Director of the North Macedonian Bureau of Public Security Mr. Arif Asani and by the representatives of the EU Commission DG NEAR, was structured in two sessions where in the morning elaborated on new trends, innovations and approaches developed by the international partners covering the real-time interoperability and information exchange used as an efficient tool in the fight against the trans-border organized crime. In this context, leading current solutions on development, establishment, implementation and maintenance of various databases and IT systems and their daily use for the purposes of improving the level of the international police cooperation were presented in depth by the experts from the Italian Ministry of Interior, Interpol, Europol and Frontex. They shared their experience and best practices for an efficient “real-time” responsiveness within the international police cooperation processes.

The afternoon session was reserved for the beneficiary countries of CSC WB project. Each country thoroughly presented and elaborated on the current state-of-play of affairs in their respective institutions, focusing on SPOCs and the existing police databases and the level of interoperability between them, at the same time providing insight into their structure and functionalities; the access to databases and user privileges; available application functionalities; modernization/upgrade of existing IT infrastructure and other related issues. Existing information systems and police databases in use were assessed with a view for providing future support to the improvement of the police forces’ abilities in the field of SPOCs and interoperability, but also for the purposes of deepening the police cooperation – on local, regional and international level.

As stressed by Mr. Antonio Montanaro, deputy IMOI Project Manager and “Interoperability” Component Leader, this workshop creates an unique opportunity to enforce the concept of “communication” among police services as the two words “information” and “communication” are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different concepts: “Information is giving out; communication is about getting through!”