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FAQ: Basics

1What is the LAW-TRAIN vision?

Our vision is that law-enforcement officers from different countries, who will be trained to work jointly in a cross-cultural multi-national surrounding, will gain better abilities of fighting together international crime like drug trafficking.

2What is the societal challenge?

Crime is an international problem. Criminals, like drug lords, are indifferent to borders and countries. Therefore, law-enforcement forces must also work together to fight crime.

3What is the project about?

LAW-TRAIN is a collaborative Horizon 2020 project that aims to build a platform where law-enforcement officers from different countries can train in joint investigation. The platform will be based on three key innovations:

  • A virtual suspect that can be interviewed
  • A mixed reality (virtual and augmented reality) simulator of an investigation environment
  • A virtual trainer that oversees the sessions and records them to provide feedback of the trainee’s performance

4Who are the partners?

The LAW-TRAIN partners come from different disciplines:

  • Technology researchers working on the virtual suspect, virtual trainer and training methodology.
  • Criminology researchers working on the methodology of performing joint multinational investigation in full compliance to EU and national laws and regulations on interviewing of suspects.
  • Ethical experts supervising the ethical aspects of the project.
  • User experience experts working on the interaction of trainees with the platform’s virtual environment.
  • Technological SMEs working on the development of the mixed reality platform, privacy, security and integration of all components.
  • End-users organisations that are providing the users’ point of view and requirements and who will eventually test the system.

5What is the LAW-TRAIN Advisory Board?

Our independent Advisory Board consists of law-enforcement experts from organisations external to the Consortium that review the methodology of training, the platform being developed and our adherence to the European laws and regulations in investigations. They provide us with valuable feedback that is used in the development.

6How are you ensuring that all Ethical Issues are covered?

We take ethical issues seriously. We have prepared ethical guidelines for the project.

We have an in-house ethical director who is responsible to review all the deliverables of the project and ensures they are consistent with all national legal and ethical requirements of the Member and Associated States in which research is developed and performed.

We have an external independent ethical advisor with whom we share ethical dilemmas.

The project is also evaluated by the European Commission ethical reviewers to ensure that ethical issues are dealt with, and we are working according to their guidelines.

FAQ: Methodology

1What is the goal of the interview in the training?

The goal of the interview in the training is to collect as much valid information as possible from the suspect. In order for the information to be admissible in a court in Europe, the interview that is trained respects the European rules and regulations, including the human rights and is based on the ‘best practice method’ in Europe called “investigative interviewing”. Investigative interviewing has been recommended by the UN as the best model to prevent mistreatment and coercion and to safeguard human rights[1]. Furthermore it is a model that is supported by a lot of high quality scientific research. The police interview in LAW-TRAIN is embedded in the inquisitorial system, applied in Continental Europe. This legal system will not only determine the goal of the interview (i.e. gathering valid information), but also the limitation of which interview methods are desirable and allowed to reach that goal. Within inquisitorial systems, police interviews are based on a fair and respectful treatment of the interviewee.

[1] United Nations General Assembly (2016). Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. A/71/298. Retrieved from: http://antitorture.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Report_A-71-298_English.pdf

2Which interviewing model will be trained?

The model of interviewing that will be trained in the LAW-TRAIN platform is the model of ‘investigative interviewing’. This model has been recommended by the United Nations as the best model to prevent mistreatment and coercion of suspects and to safeguard the human rights of suspects. It is also the most commonly trained model in national police trainings in Europe and the empirical research about the method is substantive. Investigative interviewing is based on the principles of objectivity, impartiality and fairness. It is an information-gathering model (not a confession-oriented technique) that aims at collecting as much truthful information as possible, suited for making the collected information and evidence admissible in courts over Europe.

The most commonly studied method of investigative interviewing, that has proven its effectiveness in collecting valid information, is the PEACE-model. PEACE stands for the five steps that interviewers must go through: Planning and preparation, engage and explain, account, closure and evaluation. This model respects all the European and international rules and regulations concerning questioning suspects (e.g., the Salduz-law) and the human rights of the suspect. This PEACE-model forms the basis for the interview trained in LAW-TRAIN.

3Do you only train the interview itself?

No, we start earlier in the process. The quality and effectiveness of an interview relies highly on the quality of the preparation for that interview. Therefore, it is important to also include the preparation of the interview into the training. This is relevant for all interviews, but is of particular importance in interviews in transnational investigations. In transnational investigations, the law enforcement team mostly comprises of law enforcement personnel from different countries who are working together to investigate the case. Such an ‘ad hoc’ team (i.e. a team that is put together with a specific purpose, for a particular (short-term) time frame, with people who normally do not work together) are more likely to be confronted with difficulties which increases the need for a training tool that is built to tackle these difficulties. Hence, since cross-border law enforcement teams are becoming more and more important to combat transnational crime effectively and efficiently, it is imperative that these types of teams are also trained on their collaboration and coordination skills, besides the interview skills, which are highly needed when preparing and conducting police interviews in transnational investigations. Again this preparation phase is embedded in all the legal European rules and legislation and the human rights.

4What is the difference between a national and a transnational interview?

In essence, there is little to no difference between a national and transnational interview in the way the interview is conducted, or at least, should be conducted. The preparation of such interviews is also quite similar. However, interviewing in a transnational context does present police interviewers with additional challenges, such as determining the content of the interview since different countries can have different priorities at a certain moment, slightly different legal national systems and requirements, possible cultural differences between interviewers and between interviewer and suspect and language issues. These require additional skills of law enforcement personnel, which currently do not have a central place in national police trainings.

5Which kind of transnational collaboration is trained in the LAW-TRAIN tool?

The framework in which the team in the LAW-TRAIN training operates is that of the ‘Joint Investigation Team’ or JIT. A JIT is a team of representatives of law enforcement and judicial authorities from several member states who investigate cases of transnational crime. Non-EU member states can also participate, provided that a legal basis for the creation of such a JIT exists between the countries involved, either via an international legal instrument, a bi-or multilateral agreement, or national legislation. Sometimes, other organisations such as Europol and Eurojust, are also represented in a JIT.

The legal basis for the formation of a JIT can be found in the 2000 Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union (OJ C 197/1 of 12.7.2000) and the 2002 Framework Decision of Joint Investigation Teams (OJ L 162 of 20.6.2002). JITs are considered to be an effective way to fight cross-border criminality in a close police and judicial cooperation between states and has been promoted by the European Council as the desired instrument for international cooperation of judicial and law enforcement authorities.

6What interviewing techniques and practices will be trained in the LAW-TRAIN tool?

The methodology used in this project, and consequently in the training as such, will uphold all European and international rules and regulations, including the European Convention on human rights. The training of the interview will be based on investigative interviewing and in particular the PEACE-model. When the trainees use interviewing techniques or practices during the training that are not allowed in Europe or are not in accordance with the scientific best practices concerning investigative interviewing, they will not elicit any truthful information from the suspect in the training and they will be given feedback afterwards that this practice will lead to nullities or to the rejection of evidence by the court which by all price needs to be avoided.

FAQ: Ethics

LAW-TRAIN has recently passed the Ethical Review in H2020 by the European Commission with the best possible result “Good to excellent compliance with the H2020 ethical guidelines”.

1What are the ethical issues in LAW-TRAIN?

There are two prime ethical aspects to consider in LAW-TRAIN: ethics of research and ethics of the content.

2What are the ethical issues of research?

Activities in LAW-TRAIN require the conductance of research with human participants (mostly, end-users), who take part in tests, interviews, experiments and workshops. The participants take different rules in these research activities, such as suspects or trainees. Ethical standards were established to provide the partners of the project with guidelines on how to handle personal data and treat participants properly. This was developed in accordance with the European Commission guidelines and legislation for ethical principles.

3What golden rules for ethics of research are followed?

In LAW-TRAIN we follow the golden rules for ethical research provided by the 7th Framework Program (European Commission, 2013, p. 24). Specifically, we strictly stick to:

  • respecting the integrity and dignity of persons.
  • following the “do no harm” principle. In order to do so, all possible risks are clearly communicated to the involved subjects.
  • recognizing the rights of individuals for personal privacy, personal data protection and freedom of movement.
  • honouring the informed consents and the continuous dialogue with the involved research subjects.
  • respecting the principle of proportionality – not to impose more than necessary on the participants, as well as not going beyond stated objectives.
  • taking social concerns seriously by listening and engaging in constructive dialogues with the public with transparency, honesty and integrity.
  • preventing being openly available for misuse or malignant dual use by terrorists or military organizations.
  • considering the concerns research raises and building understanding that all benefits of this research are for the good of society (by accepting that eventually certain research practices have to be abandoned).

4How do you protect the participants’ privacy and data?

LAW-TRAIN partners meet the public and law expectations regarding the treatment of the data. The research data obtained from participators are ‘unlinked anonymised data’, containing no information that could reasonably be used by anyone to identify people.

5What are the ethical issues of the content?

A special emphasis is placed on the management of ethical issues related to suspect interviewing, including questioning methods and the design of the virtual investigation room.

6What investigation methods are used in the project?

In LAW-TRAIN we apply procedures and investigation methods that meet the higher European standards. For example, as suggested several times by the EU Council, we apply the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) for international cooperation in criminal investigation. A JIT is a team of representatives of law enforcement and judicial authorities from several member states, and sometimes from other organizations such as Europol and Eurojust, who investigate cases of transnational crime.

7How do you reduce the risk of incriminating an innocent suspect?

In order to reduce the likelihood of false confessions and wrong convictions, a key principal in LAW-TRAIN is to apply information-gathering methods that were found to be valid in the scientific literature. For example, the literature clearly shows that body language and facial expressions are faint and unreliable indicators for deception and may bias the investigators’ judgment regarding the honesty of the suspect (Nahari, 2016; Vrij, Granhag, & Porter, 2010). Consequently, non-verbal behaviour in LAW-TRAIN is used only for recognizing emotions and not for interpretations regarding deception.

8What is an information-gathering method?

Characteristics of the information-gathering method are

  • the explicit attention to the establishment of rapport between the investigator and the suspect and less focus on establishing control
  • the greater use of open-ended, explanatory questions compared to closed-ended, confirmatory questions
  • the focus on eliciting information rather than on obtaining a confession
  • the direct and positive style of confrontation rather than using psychological manipulation
  • the focus on cognitive cues for deception rather than a focus on anxiety cues.

9How do you make sure that the suspects' rights are not violated?

The suspect in LAW-TRAIN is virtual. However, being aware to the significance of this matter, we strictly stick to keep the suspect’s rights as if it is a human suspect. The 2012/13/EU Directive[1] on the right of information is mandatory for all EU member states when a person is suspected or accused of a criminal act. Knowing the suspect’s rights by heart and explaining them clearly to the suspect is a key and we carefully keep this key in LAW-TRAIN. Specifically, according to Article 3 of this Directive (p.5), the suspect should be informed about at least five rights: the right of access to a lawyer, the entitlement to free legal advice and the conditions for obtaining such advice, the right to be informed of the accusation, the right to interpretation and translation and the right to remain silent. This information “shall be given orally or in writing, in simple and accessible language, taking into account any particular needs of vulnerable suspects or vulnerable accused persons” (Art. 3, par. 2).

[1] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2012:142:0001:0010:en:PDF

10Who oversees that LAW-TRAIN follows the golden ethics standards?

All partners are obliged to ensure that the ethical gold standards are upheld. The ethical considerations are an integral part of our work and are kept in mind in all decisions. Deliverable D2.3, which has been developed based on the higher ethical standards and the European regulations, serves as a practical tool to provide guidance for the LAW-TRAIN project regarding ethics. Our in-house ethics director reviews all the deliverables, helps to identify ethical issues and addresses them appropriately. We have an external independent ethical advisor with whom we share ethical dilemmas. LAW-TRAIN is further a subject of regular evaluations by the European Commission ethical reviewers. These multiple reviews ensure that LAW-TRAIN keep high quality ethical standards.

FAQ: Virtual Reality

1What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that generates realistic 3D images replicating an imaginary or real life environment. In LAW-TRAIN we use this technology to build realistic virtual investigation rooms and virtual humans.

2What is Mixed Reality?

Mixed Reality (MR) is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations with physical and digital objects. In LAW-TRAIN we are creating a novel concept for mixed reality going beyond state of the art by merging virtual humans and physical objects that co-exist and interact in real time.

3What is the Virtual Investigation Room?

The virtual investigation room is a place where the trainee, a real investigator, interviews a virtual suspect. A virtual suspect simulates a suspect which is related to a specific case or crime. As part of the training the trainer can design the room and select from a huge variety of scenarios. The system enforces rules and behaviors according to EU laws and ethics.

4What does the Virtual Human look like?

The design of the virtual humans (the virtual suspect and the virtual lawyer) is made of an arbitrary person that has no ethnic characteristics. The virtual human can be chosen from a library of different characteristics and can of course be either male or female.

FAQ: Platform, Server, Safety Requirements

1Is the LAW-TRAIN platform secure?

The LAW-TRAIN platform is being designed to support its deployment within the own private networks (intranets) of the law enforcement agencies and thus has already a high level of security. Moreover the LAW-TRAIN platform implements secure communication between the participants, data anonymization services, data encryption, two-steps authentication for users and more security measures.

FAQ: Virtual Trainer

1How does the LAW-TRAIN application differ from existing training tools?

The LAW-TRAIN environment addresses the specific needs of transnational investigation teams and therefore proposes an environment where law enforcement officers join in training sessions with students from other countries. The application’s flexibility allows each officer to work jointly while simultaneously training goals specific to their own country requirements.

2How does the LAW-TRAIN platform ensure that the students understand their progress?

In order to provide feedback to the officers, the system relies on an autonomous intelligent component called the Virtual Trainer that works side-by-side with an Intervention Agent. The intervention agent is a real person who follows the training session and provides real time feedback to the officers. The virtual trainer is capable of reviewing all the actions of each officer in just a second and therefore can provide in an instant a detailed report about them. The application gives the intervention agents the possibility to review and customize how the report is displayed to the officers so they can use it as a support for further explanations given after online training sessions.

3What makes the system adaptable to each students needs?

At the core of its mechanisms, the LAW-TRAIN platform contains various performance evaluators about the required actions that a transnational investigation team should take. These automatic evaluators do not only look at the team as a whole but are capable of giving an individualized feedback to each of the officers regarding his/her own actions within the system. The virtual trainer is also capable of learning from previous training sessions in order to propose suggestions and support during future training sessions. It becomes aware of the skills an officer needs to practice and can provide advices oriented to enhance them.