Psychosocial Support Needs Assessment for Serbian Police Officers




Psychosocial Support Needs Assessment for Serbian Police Officers


Project Team:

Mr. Nikša Nikodinović / Project Manager (SAD)

Mr. Slobodan Spasić / Leading Expert (SRB)

Mr. Aleksander Krebl / International Expert (SLO)

Mr. Gerrit van de Kamp / External Expert & Guest Speaker (Holland)

Mr. Zoran Petrović / External Expert & Guest Speaker (SLO)

Mr. Adil Huselja / External Expert & Guest Speaker (SLO)

  1. Short description of the aims and activities


    The objective of this project is to assess and to determine function of police psychology in the Serbian police. Hence, the project is needful for holistic evaluation, elucidation and interpretation of psychological causes, which contributes to police behaviour when on and off duty.

    The assessment which would be performed during the project will evaluate treatment and dysfunction of police officers, clinical practice, police procedures, police training, pre-employment psyschological screening with the accent on a current psyschosocial practice and support in the Serbian police.

As part of the projects’ reserch we will have the analysis of current practices in Slovenian police as well as the identification and description of their good practices.  That way we can use those findings and consider/follow the Slovenian Model in developing more professional psychosocial assistance for Serbian police.  

The project can assist to illuminate psychologists - police officers (on duty and off duty) gaps and indicate causes which prevents  evolving of more professional, uniform and systematic psychologists assitance to police officers. Consequently, the assessment would indicate causes which prevents more professional behaviour of police officers when on and off duty and if psychosocial support is provided for an adequately and sufficiently.

    Accordingly, the project will adopt pro-active participants approach, which will help to elucidate police psychologists, administrators, high ranking police officials, police commanders and deputy police commanders, patrol police officers' awareness on psychologica causes, esential for fully understanding on how applying police tasks and use of police powers results in subsequent behaviour in the Serbian police.  Furthermore, up-to-date cases from daily national news and official reports will be reviewed and compared in order to indicate potential officers' dysfunctional behaviour. This will enable screening of psychologists role and identification of potential gaps in the system. The complex nature of execution of police powers and encounters will be consider and how police officers are facilitated by psychologists when on or off duty problems occur.


  1. Target group


    Targeted by the project is the Security Sector which, together with Educational and Health Sectors, is the most important one and a key to a safer Europe.

There are three main target groups:

  1. Employees of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs (over 46,000): Administration Stuff, Police Officials (patrol, inspectors…) &     Members of the Special Police Forces and Units (Antiterrorism, Gendarmerie…).

  2. Government which will gain better understanding of current situation and guidelines to solving it. Its officials and representatives will be invited to participate as members of multidisciplinary teams and more close connection between them and trade union will be created.

  3. Citizens who will be influenced indirectly from the project, because the quality of the services of police officers will be increased.

  1. Reasons and considerations that have led to the project proposal


        When it comes to psychosocial situation in Serbian police force it is very worrying.  In Belgrade there are over 7,000 police officers and there is only one psychologist to treat all of them, while police departments in 13 cities do not have a single psychologist…  More concerning is facts that among Serbian police officers’ suicide, aggression, engagement in criminal activities are very common.  Unfortunately, the mental health of police forces is not a priority for our Government which is extremely dangerous, because the risk of burnout and the lack of methods for reduction of occupational stress.  

Speaking of Serbian police force, some of the publically available information indicates that in past 12 years more than 140 police officers had taken their own lives. Number of suicide among the MoI of Serbia employees from 2007 to 2011 averages at 9.6 against 40,000 employees, with the average age of police officers committing suicide being 35, as indicated by the MoI data. Comparison with statistics by the World Health Organization (WHO), stating that the number of suicide in Serbia averages at 16 against 100,000 citizens, with the average age of suicide victims being 52, indicates that the suicidal behavior is more frequent with the MoI members against general population.

According to the research by the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, in 2010, 252 police officers had suffered minor, and 11 major injuries in last three months alone.

Based on the Section for Psychological Prevention data for the period 2007 – 2012, suicide had been committed by 52 police officers, with 18 attempts and 9 suicide threats, and 2 cases of murder-suicide.

  1. Needs that the project addresses / problems it is going to solve


        The project results will argue needs for psycho-social support for Serbian police officers. It will also create a base for solving many problems, such as: mental healt, prevention of occupational stress, popularization of decent work strategy and decent working conditions, the righ of each police officer to work in safety enviroment and etc.

  1. Designated goals and chosen strategy


        There are twofold project’s objectives: general and specific.


  • General objective is to improve effectiveness and efficiency of policing performance, according to EU police standards.


  • Specific objective is to evaluate and enhance psyscho-social practice in Serbian police to increase lawful police proceddings and to decrerase officers’ dysfunction via adequate psycho-social assistance, which will be purposed by the project.

  1. Results (outcomes and outputs)

    (Please include indicators measuring the achievement of the project results. Indicators should be concrete, tangible and preferably measurable.)


    The results:


  • Psychosocial practice in the Serbian police complies with European and international standards, considering Slovenian models;

  • Improved methodology of work for the existing pre-employment psychological screening;

  • Increased knowledge and skills of police officers through training on evaluation of operational stress;

  • Increased awareness of police leadership and management and police officers about the role of psychologists in police proceedings;

  • Evolved clinical practice for daily policing purposes;

  • Developed and purposed efficient and effective psycho-social system in the Serbian police to assist police officers in trouble and to decrease dysfunction of officers.


The measurable indicators:


  • The adopted psychosocial police assistance is complying with European standards;

  • Methodology of work for the existing pre-employment psychological screening is increased and effective;

  • Police officers are trained on evaluation of operational stress;

  • Police leadership and management and police officers are able to recognized role of police psychologists in police proceedings;

  • Clinical practice for daily policing purposes is developed;

  • Efficient and effective psycho-social system in the Serbian police to assist police officers in trouble and to decrease dysfunction of officers is indicated and purposed;


    The outcome would be "Psychosocial Support Assessment for Serbian Police Officers", which can serve as basis for potential further long-term EU funded project "Strengthening of Psychosocial Support for Serbian Police Officers", if argued and needed.









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