Many animal groups, and others, talk of ‘The Link’ and the ‘Cycle of Violence’. Some police officers appreciate that animal abuse and human violence are intertwined but many opportunities have been lost over decades by this knowledge not being translated into action. Lives have been lost, violence has occurred and criminality has existed that sadly could have been prevented by not spotting the early warning indicators. I know, as a police officer, I certainly missed them.
A couple of years ago when researching the 250+ animal welfare groups, I became aware of a highly professional organisation operating in Greece; the Panhellenic Animal Welfare Federation (PFO). The association was well regarded in professional circles and had a strategy that would make a real difference for the animals of Greece.
That strategy included training. Training of the NGOs and the police and prosecutors whose responsibility it is to enforce the law. Not just to train them on animal issues but to train them how to identify the cycle and what to do. This was ambitious but I could tell that their drive would make it happen.
In November 2015, there was a launch of the programme at the Benaki Museum of Athens. It was well received and gave a powerful launch to the process. The following 18 months saw many negotiations, considerable planning and much persuasion taking place. In September 2017, the next phase exploded into the Hellenic Police training schedule. It was highly organised and innovative and to be frank, left much of the European law enforcement response in a dark shadow and far behind. Impressive for a country undergoing significant financial and political issues.
Over 2 weeks, 200 police officers from around the mainland and islands of Greece trained in the “Cycle of Violence”, on the link between animal and human abuse. Extremely impressive, and with that sharing of knowledge comes the prospect of being able to make a real difference for the animals, and a real difference for society.
Tackling crime is about partnerships and the Panhellenic Animal Welfare Federation fully recognise this, working with several law enforcement agencies across the US to deliver the training.
I should note the inspirational training of Michelle Welch (Senior Assistant Attorney General), Nicole Blumberg (New York Chief of Child Abuse Unit of the Attorney General’s Office) Susan Day (Senior Detective) and Siobhan Chase (Animal Services) of the Fairfax County Police Department.
Worth mentioning too, the recognition and understanding the Hellenic Police and the senior officers gave to the concept.
However, it could have not have happened without the volunteers of the PFO and specifically, Sofia Tzoniki and Irini Molfessi.
Having witnessed both the initial launch in 2015 and the training programme in 2017, the whole programme has been well organised, informative and useful. My only regret is that I didn’t have the training for my career.
Hopefully, other countries in Europe will catch up before more lives are lost, both of humans and animals.... Mark Randell, Director of Operations, Hidden-in Sight
“As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” - Pythagoras