Migration and Home Affairs

A guide to police empowerment conversations

Country:
Approach: 
Exit strategies
Target Audience:
Organisation: 

National Police Directorate, Norway. It is financed by the National Police Directorate.

Address: 

National Police Directorate,
Postboks 8051
Dep. 0031 Oslo,
Norway

Contact: 

Project description:

Dialogue is an important tool for both resolving conflicts and creating understanding and trust. When children and young people come into conflict with the law, or are at risk of doing so, it is important to understand the reasons why. It is vital to create an arena in which those involved can talk frankly so an overview of the situation can be gained and the parties can arrive at a common understanding of the problem. Only then can we start working towards changing things in a positive direction.

Empowerment conversations have become a good tool for creating such an arena in the encounter between the police and children/young people and their parents (or other legal guardians). The aim of the conversation is to safeguard everyone’s interests and arrive at good solutions, especially for the child/young person, but also for the parents. It is recommended as a method when unwanted/criminal behaviour is uncovered that could develop into a criminal career. It is used in the police’s prevention work, as a reaction to unwanted behaviour, and as a means of guiding young people onto a path of reconciliation and consideration. This method are therefore also used by signs of radicalisation.

A good conversation requires the asking of open questions and active listening, which involves confirming and repeating back what you have heard. There must be no leading in the conversation, and clarifications and summaries must be used. Pauses (silences) should also be consciously used to give the child time to think and reflect in the conversation, and come up with the responses himself or herself. It is important to set aside plenty of time for the conversation, it must never seemed rushed, and the impression must never be given that a person needs to respond quickly. Even though the conversation is a dialogue, you must say when a limit has been reached, see the enforcement pyramid: Information – guidance – advice – instructions – warning.

You must not be biased in the conversation, but try to stick to the topic and avoid the focus shifting. If the child/young person repeatedly tries to shift the focus, you should deal with this head on and clarify why the child is not sticking to the topic. Listening is an important part of the conversation. It is important to demonstrate that you are hearing what is being said by listening actively, which involves things such as nodding and saying small words such as ‘yes’, ‘okay’, etc. At the same time, the child must have an opportunity to take his or her time finding his or her own words to express what they want to say. Often it is precisely these children/young people who are not used to being listened to, and who also do not find it easy to express their thoughts and feelings in words.

Deliverables:

Handbook and training modules at The Police University College in Norway.