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Europol Award for Netherlands Police Academy’s 'Professional Checks' VR Simulation

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Europol Award for Netherlands Police Academy’s 'Professional Checks' VR Simulation

At the Netherlands Police Academy, a team headed by researcher Bas Böing developed a Virtual Reality (VR) simulation for training participants in how to conduct professional checks. And on 26 September 2023, this VR simulation won the prestigious Europol Award for Excellence in the category Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion.​ Bas Böing was presented with the award by Stefan Sinteus, Chief of Police in Malmö (Sweden), at a gala dinner hosted by Europol at Kunstmuseum Den Haag in The Hague, attended by three hundred representatives of police forces in the EU, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Mexico. ​

Bas is delighted with this award. It is recognition of the role VR can play in training and education in a sensitive area like professional checks. In the simulation, participants first decide which of the individuals they see will be selected for checking. They can then decide which police powers they will deploy to bring the encounter to the desired conclusion. That may be an arrest or a fine, but it is equally possible to send someone on their way, or to conclude the conversation in a friendly way. Bas explains: "Afterwards, the choices each participant made are discussed in the group. The choices are also related to the national guidelines on how to conduct professional checks ('handelingskader professioneel controleren'). How do the choices made relate to the selections, explanations, and rules of conduct set out in those guidelines? What could the participants have done (even) better to achieve a better outcome?"

Seventy entries

This project also made it to the final of the Europol Award two years ago. On that occasion the award went to the French police for the avatar they had developed in Fortnite for tracking down child abuse. This year the direct competition included the police forces in Hungary and Ireland. Hungary developed a podcast in collaboration with citizens, while Ireland set up a cooperative project with migrants. There were seventy entries in total.

The admiration for the award winners was also shared by the other attendees. Bruce O'Brien of the New Zeeland police, for instance, praised this "important work that leads the field all over the world".

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