‘The aim of this paper is to present the Spanish police experience, regarding the implementation and deployment of alternative dispute resolution systems in citizenship and especially in the law enforcement agencies. One of the tools that have really worked is the implementation of Police Mediation as an alternative dispute resolution method. This results in the improvement of citizenship and in greater confidence in the police as well as in investments at a global level.
The situation described above is linked to the mediation culture. Mediation seeks for civic engagement, the promotion of equality and respect, a participatory democracy and citizen participation and engagement. This kind of mediation has been specially developed in certain neighborhoods in big Spanish cities, as well as in other smaller countries. Thus, a dispute resolution method needs to be supported. This method needs active civic participation and it claims that the community needs to deal with conflict management to manage the coexistence.
Our society is constantly changing. Believing that everything remains the same is criminally wrong. This can be clearly seen in the evolution of society. Being aware of their rights and freedoms, society not only demands the protection of their rights but also their development. But choosing the best law enforcement policy model in this changing society is a complex task due to some mistaken concepts from politics and even the police force. Understanding the law enforcement policy models above mentioned is very enriching for political speech. Furthermore, it not only improves its communication but also its plan and hence the citizen security and coexistence policies. A paradigm shift needs to be faced without fear as well as a true metamorphosis of the police structure and roles. A combined system of community policing principles is desirable. These principles strengthen the efficient work relationships between the law enforcement agencies and the community thanks to mutual collaboration and the problem-solving skills of the police. This law enforcement policy model aims to change the traditional police strategies into a more proactive version. In addition, it systematizes the complaints received by the residents’ thanks to an analytical process. The reason is that the police see these received complaints as a sign of an underlying conflict in the neighborhood. Therefore, supporting strategic intelligence and a police approach is crucial.
Law enforcement agencies, as well as other social actors, need to deal with many different problems and strict law enforcement or administrative regulations do not solve them in many cases. In fact, they even worsen the situation sometimes. Thus, building public democratic security policies and responsible social policy is essential. In this way, the citizenship will be the focus of these programs.
Therefore, law enforcement agencies need to be integrated into our society through other methods. When using different modus operandi, new proximity police models arise. They are based in the mediation and the police are the main actors in local polices in Spain and in the Valencian community specifically. The Valencian Community Local Police Coordination Act“ley de Coordinación de Policías Locales de la Comunidad Valenciana” highlights one of the police specific competencies by law—the police mediation. Thanks to this ability, they can manage different conflicts within the citizenship and in civil, commercial, criminal and school contexts, among others.
The Valencia Local Police Department has been constituted in the Ministry of Justice of Spain as a mediation Institution, whose aims include promoting mediation, facilitating access to it and its administration, including the appointment of mediators, and must guarantee transparency in this appointment. If their purposes also include arbitration, they shall take steps to ensure separation between the two activities.
Regarding to the police mediators officers, and their specific training, all of them have carried out a specialized training program and a rigorous selection, which we will see in detail later on and how new technologies in neuroscience are applied to select the best profiles (skills and abilities) to form part of the Police Mediation service.
The Valencia Local police Department is a reference in Spain in Europe and overseas countries in the use of the Police Mediation, the special police unit, was selected as the best police practice in Spain, is the first police unit specialized in alternative dispute resolution and restorative justice.
For facilitating the real implementation of the Police Mediation program as a community policing strategy, it is crucial to count on a Police Force with a solid background in trust-building and community policing in order to develop the Police Mediation program. In this sense, the Valencia Police Department is a pioneer Police Force working with citizens in conflict solving, through providing Police Mediation and with young people also peer mediation in schools and advice. As an example, it is an official mediation institution, so agreements signed by their police mediators have, one signed by the parties, the value of a judicial decision.
This new law grants a strategic role in the use of police mediation. In this way, the role of the police in the community is reinforced, where the approval of the agreements prevents the parties in conflict from having to file complaints or go to the courts of justice.
It should be highlighted, the excellent results obtained since the creation of the police mediation Unit in 2009 as part, to the European Project “Safeland” neighborhoods and safe schools in Europe, where the mediation agreement rate is 70% on average, the highest rate of agreements being precisely the last year 2019 with 72% of agreements between the parties involved in neighborhood conflicts.’
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