SWaPOL - Social Work and Policing

Vocational training in public order management



Günter Stummvoll


Cornelius (Cees) Goos, Kai Leichsenring, Willem Stamatiou


The overall objective in the project "SWaPOL – Social Work and Policing" was to develop and support strategic partnerships between social work organizations and the police. Researchers and practitioners in partner countries (Austria, Belgium and Portugal) developed a five-day joint training course that can be integrated in existing training schedules in academic institutions in social work and in police academies. The goal of the project SWaPOL was

  1. to develop a training curriculum for continuous vocational education for social workers and police prevention officers,
  2. to carry out pilot trainings in all partner countries, and
  3. to develop respective training material that can be used in the future.


Our aim in this project was to contribute to the development of high-quality skills and competences for a better cooperation of the two professions of social work and police.

The core output of this project has been a Training Package in Social Work and Policing, including a training schedule for a 5-day training course and respective teaching material.

The SWaPOL training has been designed as a series of workshops and balances expert inputs, exercises for discussions and field trips.

The Handbook for trainers features:

  • Introduction and didactical concept
  • Intended competences
  • Keynote themes
  • Learning activities

A training curriculum is outlined in a separate document.


  • Collection of existing experiences from national pilot projects
  • Identification of “themes & settings”: Professional cultures, work ethics, responsibilties and work concepts
  • Structuring the training in modules
  • Development of didactical exercises in separate modules as elements of the overall SWaPOL training package
  • Test run of the training package in each partner country
  • Finalisation of training package and publication of teaching material


  • Milestone 1: All project partners are informed about experiences from pilot projects in other countries
  • Milestone 2: Didactical exercises and teaching material are laid down in modules
  • Milestone 3: Pilot Course carried out in all partner countries
  • Milestone 4: Teaching material completed


At least two conclusions can be drawn from this recent project: First, the SWaPOL training project has been a successful inter-governmental and inter-disciplinary experiment that links institutions in order maintenance (police), social support services (social work), and respective vocational training institutions. This training project demonstrates that communication away from daily routine and under neutral moderation can unite organisations with very different vocational responsibilities for the benefit of vulnerable people in society.

Second, each discipline naturally creates its own logic, its own culture and a professional identity with the help of artefacts such as uniforms or languages. Also stereotypes and prejudices about others develop at an early stage of professionalisation. The SWaPOL training can help establishing a positive image about other professions and incorporate the idea of collaboration in professional cultures in the police and in social work. Sustainability, in terms of longevity of positive relationships between social workers and the police can be best guaranteed if the idea of collaboration is systematically integrated in existing vocational training schedules.

The European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research supports the Sustainable Development Goals

European Centre Logo
UN SDG Good Health and Well-Being
UN SDG Reduced Inequalities