The following scenario is based on a real-life situation in Germany. It could differ from a similar situation in any other country due to the specifics of national law enforcement regulations. For more details go to the section Country Specific Information of this module and choose the respective country.

A patrol car is following a cycle on a busy road in Germany. It is already dark, but the bike lights are not on. The cyclist is wearing dark clothes and is hardly visible. The police officers decide to stop the cycle. They signal to the cyclist to pull over. The cyclist stops, the police officers get out of the vehicle and walk to the cyclist.

The following scenario is based on a real-life situation in Germany. It could differ from a similar situation in any other country due to the specifics of national law enforcement regulations. For more details go to the section Country Specific Information of this module and choose the respective country.

The police patrol car is following a vehicle. The officers notice that the driver is not wearing a seat belt. They decide to stop the vehicle and conduct a traffic check. The officers signal the vehicle to pull over. The vehicle stops, the police car stops behind it. Both police officers get out of the car. One of them positions themselves at the passenger door and looks inside the vehicle. (This police officer does not speak with the driver, they cover the partner and monitor the situation e.g. the driver’s movements. In case the driver attempts to attack the officer, who is speaking to them, the officer at the passenger door can intervene and support the partner). The other officer positions themselves slightly off centre behind the driver’s door and addresses the driver. The latter partly opens the window.

Hierarchy and authority

 

Police officers apply standard procedures which have the aim of treating everybody in the same way as well as of securing each other in case a situation escalates. As not every member of the public is aware of this, there may be misunderstandings as far as some police actions are concerned which could lead to unnecessary conflicts between security forces and their counterparts.

 

A police officer’s duty is to enforce law and order. In this capacity they may sometimes appear quite tough. If, for example, a counterpart is a refugee still struggling with the images of war and flight from their home country, this could lead to manifestations of trauma including symptoms such as aggressiveness.

 

In such cases, the best solution would be to give explanations which would reassure people and create trust and rapport, allowing an effective and appropriate handling of the situation. The language used should fit the target group in vocabulary, structure and pace as well as be neutral with elements of empathy for the people in such a difficult situation.

 

Authority is not a quality a person has automatically; it is given to somebody on the basis of certain criteria. These can be a particular role in society (parent, teacher, judge), a certain moral or intellectual superiority or physical dominance.

Linked to this concept is the concept of hierarchy. Hierarchy in the Vocal in Need context implies the social ranking accorded to higher and lower status.

 

Whether someone is regarded as an authority and the ways in which authority is observed are different from culture to culture. Furthermore, how clearly authority is displayed in a family or institution is also culture specific. Some cultures such as those of the Muslim religion tend to be highly hierarchical and authoritarian. In these societies, authority depends on biological factors, for instance age and gender. Male elders enjoy the highest authority; young, unmarried females have the lowest. This ranking is reflected in the family as well as in society in general.

In societies where tribal structures prevail, hierarchy and authority are also seen in relationship to the tribal patriarch. People who have grown up with this concept may struggle to accept other forms of authority. Even if they live in western societies.

 

In western societies, hierarchy and authority may show less obviously. This doesn’t mean that the concepts are less important than in societies with stronger hierarchical structures. These societies just have a different way of living these concepts.

According to the Globe Study, societies relevant for the Vocal in Need project display authority and hierarchy according to the following ranking, starting with the highest scores: Nigeria and Morocco, Turkey, Germany, Italy and Iran, Ireland and England, Poland, Austria (House, 2011). Of course, this is only an overall tendency as there is cultural variation even within one country.

 

Advice:

  • Remember that concepts of hierarchy and authority are culture specific.
  • Find out where your counterpart is from. This helps you understand how authority and hierarchy are understood.
  • Avoid feeling annoyed if you have the impression your authority hasn’t been accepted. Your counterpart may not be able to read your way of displaying authority.

Bibliography

Hecht-El Minshawi, Beatrice, Kehl-Bodrogi, Krisztina (2004), Muslime in Beruf und Alltag verstehen. Business zwischen Orient und Okzident. Wichtige Infos in Englisch, Weinheim/Basel: Beltz Verlag:

Hofstede, G., Hofstede G.J. (2009). “Die Regeln des sozialen Spiels“. In: G. Hofstede and G.J. Hofstede, ed., Lokales Denken, globales Handeln. 4th ed. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, p. 2.

House, R. J. (2011). Culture, Leadership, and Organizations: the GLOBE study of 62 societies. 5th ed. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

 

Kabasci, Kirstin (22006), Kulturschock. Kleine Golfstaaten. Oman, Bielefeld: Reise Know-How Verlag Peter Rump GmbH.

 

Module 1 offers language training in intercultural law enforcement settings on the roads.

A needs analysis carried out as part of the Vocal-in-Need project found that security personnel see the main challenges in communicating the rules, explaining the procedure of police actions and the consequences of not complying with regulations. They feel that additional training is needed to avoid misunderstandings which could lead to critical situations.

As state representatives they normally use official language containing complex standard phrases which could be difficult to understand for people with insufficient knowledge of the respective language. Module 1 offers a set of phrases which modifies the complexity of the official language for usage in a situation with foreign nationals. Module 1 is for practicing communication at the levels A2-B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for languages. The Country-Specific Section contains some complex standard phrases which are used by the police in the respective countries and could provide additional language training on the CEFR  level B2 . (https://www.coe.int/en/web/common-european-framework-reference-languages /)

The objective of Module 1 is to develop skills in:

  • initiating a conversation and giving the reason for the contact;
  • explaining police actions in situations which occur on the road and involve different kinds of vehicles;
  • using questioning techniques to clarify the situation;
  • giving the clients the information necessary to deal with the consequences of the incident and police actions;
  • reassuring the client and creating a basis for cooperation;
  • using firm and friendly language to tackle difficult clients.

 

Police actions are based on national laws therefore there are differences in police procedures in different countries. As Module 1 was created by a German project partner the three scenarios use situations typical for the German setting.

 

  1. “Traffic Check” in which a learner practices how to:
  • introduce themselves;
  • explain the reason for stopping someone on the road;
  • reassure the client;
  • explain the consequences of the offence.

The scenario demonstrates the standard procedures of a traffic check unfamiliar to a foreign national and shows how to bridge the gap between different expectations using appropriate vocabulary.

It is not possible to pay the fine on the spot, if the car is registered in Italy. The driver gets a receipt to pay the amount later on. If the fine is paid within 5 days, a 30% discount is applied. Furthermore, 5 scores are taken off your driving licence. Only in exceptional cases, such as a car registered abroad, can the fine be paid on the spot. Furthermore, if the driver is from outside the EU but lives in Italy, among the documents in the car, he/she must have an Italian residency permit.
A First aid kit is not compulsory in Italy. However, snow chains are compulsory from November to April.
In Lithuania, road traffic rules state that a motor vehicle (except a moped, a motorcycle without a trailer), a tractor and a self-propelled vehicle must be equipped with:

  • emergency warning triange;
  • both fire extinguishers and first-aid kits, as required by the technical requirements for motor vehicles and their trailers (1 kg extinguisher and one first aid kit in the car);
  • brightly coloured vest with reflective elements.
The situation is similar to paying a fine on the spot in Bulgaria (using a special ticket called “fiche”) that is allowed by the Traffic Law in the country (for more information please go to the Country specific information). However, it’s worth noting that this is rarely applied and in most cases all tickets are paid later on either in person by going to the local municipality office or bank or online. If paid on the spot, a driver is not given a receipt. Instead, they just receive a copy of the ticket. Unlike the situation with Germany reflected in the dialogue, the driver also needs to sign the ticket.
According to the Traffic Law in Bulgaria, besides the mentioned items a vehicle needs to be equipped also with a fire extinguisher.
  1. “Cycle Theft” in which a learner practices how to:
  • explain the reason for a contact;
  • inform someone of their rights;
  • seize an item;
  • explain the procedures to a person accused of a crime;
  • deal with a difficult client.
In Italy a fine is at least 24 (max. 97) Euros. Furthermore, it is not payable on the spot. Only in exceptional cases such as if the driver is a foreign person, not living in Italy, can the police ask to pay on the spot as it would be otherwise impossible to find the person again.
There is no database for registered bicycles so it is hard, if not impossible, for Italian police to check if a bicycle has been stolen and who the owner is.
In Bulgaria, there is no official unified database for registered bicycles and thus it would be impossible for the police to check if the bike is stolen and who the owner is. There are separate initiatives devoted to limiting bicycle thefts where companies offer owners the option to buy registration stickers with unique numbers.
  1. “Road Traffic Accident” in which a learner practices how to:
  • deal with a road traffic accident when a stationary vehicle is involved;
  • check the relevant documents;
  • obtain the relevant information;
  • breathalyse a person;
  • explain police-related vocabulary;
  • give advice.
In Italy, police provide an accident report rather than a log reference number.
In Italy damaging a stationary vehicle is considered a traffic offence. If the police have been called to deal with the accident, police officers must provide an accident report which must specify the traffic regulation that has been violated by the driver. According to this violation, the driver must pay a fine. His insurance will pay the car damages to the counterpart. In general, damages to property and personal injuries are reimbursed by the insurance.
In the event of a road traffic accident in Lithuania, where no more than two vehicles are involved, no persons are injured, and if there is no dispute regarding the person responsible for the damage inflicted the police do not have to be informed. In this case a declaration is filled out where all the details of the traffic incident and the guilty person are indicated. This document is later submitted to the insurance companies.
According to the Traffic Law in Bulgaria there are no “warning” fines. Instead, there are two kinds of tickets for violations that require paying a fine: for minor violations that don’t lead to deduction of points, a driver is issued a special ticket called “fiche” and for bigger violation a regular ticket is issued.

The main aim of the meeting was to present the results of the Needs analysis survey developed in the framework of IO1, as well as to share the draft training module prototypes developed by responsible partners, and agree on a plan on how to localise them to the country-specific contexts.