ProSPeReS meeting and the networking event with stakeholders in Nicosia, Cyprus

 

On November 29th-30th, 2022, the consortium partners met in Nicosia, CY at the General Assembly meeting complemented by a successful networking meeting with stakeholders in a form of panel discussion “Protection of Religious Sites from Terrorist Attacks”. The events were organized by CARDET – Center for the Advancement of Research & Development in Educational Technology and University of Lodz.

The consortium meeting allows partners to monitor the project progress, the development of the results and to plan the next activities till the end of the project in November 2023. Currently, the works are focused on completing WP3: Preparing the tailor-made security measures for religious sites and WP4: Preparedness for CBRN protection. The main results including: Report on best practices, gaps and needs, Security by design guidebook for religious sites, Guidebook with procedures and tools to prevent, protect, respond and mitigate the result of the terrorist attack as well as Guidelines with basic information on CBRN threats and scenarios collection with reactions’ models. The set of the measures including user-friendly tools like VAT Lite for vulnerability assessment, CBRN scenarios models to identify relevant preventive and response measures or the checklist and the tools to identify gaps in the current protection in the places of worship. The results will be available soon for free use by everyone interested in increasing the protection of places of worship.

The partners discussed the next step about preparing the training materials and conduct the pilot training and large-scale exercises as well as activities and events of the Awareness Rising Campaign. Follow the progress of ProSPeReS on LinkedIn , Facebook , Twitter or YouTube Channel.

Workshop with representatives of faith-based institutions, The Hague on October 26-27, 2022.

The work of the consortium partners of the ProSPeReS project is in progress. The innovative ProSPeReS project aiming at enhancing the security at places of worship, funded by the European Union, has entered the consultation phase, in which it is necessary to obtain the feedback from representatives of religious communities. This time, experts from partners 6 EU countries met in The Hague, the Netherlands at the workshop organized by DISSS , to present the current project’s developments in measures for increasing the protection and discuss it with the “end-users”. Experts, representatives of services responsible for security and public order as well as leaders of religious communities discussed the prepared recommendations for reducing the possibility of unwanted incidents at places of worship – taking into account the risks associated with a potential terrorist attack.

On the first day, leaders of the activities in WP3: Preparing the tailor-made security measures for religious sites and WP4: Preparedness for CBRN protection presented the guidelines, procedures, recommendations and tools elaborated in the project. Then , during the interactive part the participants discussed issues related to administration and management of the religious sites, preparing effective ways to respond to a security threats and designing a secure space for worshippers and pointed out gaps and weaknesses in existing solutions. The lively discussion was accompanied by a search for effective ways to mitigate actual and potential threats. The invited guests, who were leaders and representatives  of religious communities, including the Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Jewish Communities, the Evangelic Church in Finland and Muslim Communities  expressed their opinions on the implemented solutions. The workshop provided several valuable insights, which will be taken into account at a further stage of the ongoing work.

On the second day of the session, a working meeting of the coordinators of the various work packages was held, at which they discussed, among other things, the shape of the future guide containing a set of recommendations, which are especially dedicated for the administrators of religious facilities. Then the workshop participants had the opportunity to visit religious facilities in The Hague, which is a multi-religious city inhabited by representatives of various religions.

 

 

The meeting in The Hague at HSD (SecurityDelta)

In this week, Rafał Batkowski a key expert in the ProSPeReS project attended a meeting in The Hague at HSD (SecurityDelta). The event was part of the EU I-Lead Industry & Research Days organized by the Polish Platform for Homeland Security (PPBW) in cooperation with ENLETS and the Dutch Police. In addition to the presentation of many of the latest security technologies, it was also a time of extremely fruitful discussions and deliberations – including the participation of the vice mayor of The Hague and the deputy chief of the Dutch police. The visit is related to the implementation of the PROSPERES project, which aims to search for the best methods of protecting public places from terrorist threats.

ESTONIAN STAKEHOLDER WORKSHOP

An extensive Stakeholder Workshop was held in Tallinn, Estonia, from August 29 to September 1, 2022. The purpose of the events was to raise awareness among Estonians about the goals and results of the ISFP EU – Prossperes project. The project was represented at the event on behalf of the Project Leader by Pro Dean Prof. Michal Bijak, University of Lodz, Prof. Adrian Siadkowski WSB University and CEO Dr. Timo Hellenberg, Hellenberg International.

The project’s goals and available products for stakeholders and end users were presented at meetings at the Estonian Ministry of Culture, where Anne-Ly Reimaa, head of international relations, received the project delegation, and at St. Mary’s Cathedral (Toomkirik) with Dean Arho Tuhkru.

ProSPeReS project participated in inauguration ceremony of the Church of St. Paisios, in Ioannina, Greece

On July 11, 2022, in continuation of the previous research activity, ProSPeReS was proudly present at the opening (inauguration) ceremony and visitation of the newly constructed (2020) Church of St. Paisios, in Ioannina, Greece.

The ceremony was attended by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Athens (and all of Greece) Ieronymos (Jerome), Metropolitan Maximos of Ioannina (head of ProSPeReS’ partners Holy Metropolis of Ioannina), and partners of the ProSPeReS project, in particular representatives of the Greek police and the KEMEA institute (Center for Security Studies).

In this church, within the framework of ProSPeReS’ Work Package (WP2) activities, a vulnerability assessment (VA) workshop was conducted in January 2022. Its main purpose was the identification of security gaps against terrorist attacks and the discussion of applicable measures for increasing its protection during high-profile religious events.

The purpose of the visit was to observe the setting in and around the Church, the security measures employed by the local stakeholders, and the general operations during such high-profile ceremonies. Regarding the security measures in place, it was very pleasing to see that some of them stemmed from the discussions held with the local stakeholders (incl. Holy Metropolis of Ioannina, Police, Fire Brigade, Civil Protection and Emergency Health Services) during January’s VA workshop and that ProSPeReS’ activities contributed to raising the protection the religious site.

Work on the project is ongoing. Stay tuned!

ProSPeReS 3rd project’s consortium meeting in Athenes

On May 24th -25th, 2022, the meeting of the Prosperes consortium partners took place in Athens, Greece. The meeting was organized by the University of Lodz and KEMEA (Center for Security Studies).

Partners associated in the international consortium presented and discussed the results of the work conducted so far and planned the next steps in the project. The outcomes of completed tasks of Workpackage 2 Vulnerability Assessment & Needs Analysis of religious sites were presented including the results of vulnerability assessment workshops of selected sites, additional case studies visits and the summary report that should be available soon at the project website. The experts from 6 countries of the European Union (Poland, Cyprus, Greece, Finland, the Netherlands, Slovakia) representing scientific environment, practitioners of state services and representatives of faith-based institutions discussed existing gaps in security systems, the ways of their correction and terrorist threats that may arise in places of worship. The consortium had the opportunity to learn more about the European Commission initiatives in the field of protection of places of worship i.e. about the other ISFP projects or publication related to the scope of Prosperes as well as to discuss the implementation of the project due to participation in the meeting the representatives of DG Home & Migration.

The meeting was a very good opportunity to present the current status of the works and planning future activities to be conducted in all work packages as it was the first face-to-face consortium meeting. The gaps&needs analysis phase is close to the conclusion, so currently the consortium will focus on tasks related on preparing the tailor-made security measures for religious sites and preparedness to CBRN protection. In the next phase the training materials including the VR appliance will be prepared and the training and exercises will take place.

Stay tuned. The work of the consortium is ongoing.

2nd Training of trainers for the protection of religious sites – Warsaw 13th May 2022

Polish National Security Association together with DG HOME of the European Commission organized another training devoted to the protection of religious sites against terrorist attacks. The training, like the one held on 14 March 2022, was under the honorary patronage of the Head of the National Security Bureau. Participants included representatives of the Catholic Church, among others, from the largest Polish cities, representatives of the uniformed services, state security officers, and representatives of governmental and local governmental institutions dealing with security issues. The University of Lodz was represented by Dr Rafał Batkowski (key expert of the ProSPeReS Project). During his presentation he familiarized the participants with the main assumptions and ideas of the EU project implemented by an international consortium and aimed at improving security at places of worship (project ProSPeReS- Protection System for large gatherings of people in Religious Sites).

 

The workshop on challenges and good practice in protection of places of worship – 21.04.2022

On 21 April 2022, within the framework of the PoSPeReS project, a workshop devoted to the issue of protection the places of worship to terrorist threats was held via an online platform. The meeting was organized by the University of Lodza and , KEMEA. The meeting , was attended by representatives of religious communities from various EU countries as well as representatives of various services and institutions interested in the issues of security in a broad sense. During the workshop the results of the current work carried out in the framework of (WP2) Vulnerability Assessment & Needs Analysis of Religious sites, specifically the activities undertaken in the area of Activity 2.3 (Investigation of additional case studies in Europe- identification of common and distinctive challenges, risks, gaps, and good practices) were presented and discussed. The meeting was opened by the project coordinator Mr. Marcin Podogrocki from the University of Lodz, who briefly presented the agenda of the meeting and the planned order of speeches.

Then, the representative of the Orthodox Church in Greece expressed his Easter wishes to the participants of the consortium and thanked for their commitment to improving security at religious facilities. After presenting the introductory issues, Konstantinos Apostolou from Center for Security Studies (KAMEA) – leader of WP2 pointed out the key tasks of the conducted work in the field of Vulnerability Assessment & Needs Analysis of Religious sites and described the manner of proceeding with the use of diagnostic tool based on VAT/VAC by DG HOME (which was used, during the workshops at religious sites in Ioanina, Lodz and Warsaw). Next, Dr Rafał Batkowski, key expert from the University of Łódź, referred to the conducted visits religious facilities in StatesEU countries and introduced speakers representing expert institutions, services and religious communities from: Finland (Hellenberg International), Poland (WSB University, UL § Jewish Community, SO § Wroclaw Regional Police HQ, SGSP) and Greece (KEMEA), the Netherlands (DITSS).  During short presentations, results of case studies religious facilities such as Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Evangelic Churches, Synagogues and a Mosque Church were presented. The vulnerabilities in security systems and ways to address them were also demonstrated. After the break, the floor was taken by Koralia KONTOU from the European Commission (DG Home & Migration), who topresented key areas for future activity (including the creation of guides to improve awareness at places of worship, and future synergic actions as part of a broader campaign to improve security at places of worship).

The next speakers were experts who are retired officers of the Polish special forces (GROM formation), who pointed out the risk of using improvised explosive devices in religious facilities. During the speech, the consequences associated with the potential use of pyrotechnic in churches, and ways to neutralize and counteract this type of threat were presented.

The last session was a panel discussion led by Konstantinos Apostolou and Rafal Batkowski with invited representatives of faith-based organizations. The panelists were: Iman Atta – Director – Faith Matters, Leslaw Piszewski – President of the Jewish Community of Warsaw,  Juhani Korte – Parish Dean, Evangelic Church, Alan Wąsowski –  Archdioces of Lodz.  In addition, Mr. Alessandro Calgano – COMECE and Mr. Athinagoras Soupourtzis, Archimandrite of the Greek Orthodox Church – delivered their opinions on paper.   Panel members talked about their perceptions of the safety of worship and worshippers based on their personal experiences, taking into consideration distinct needs and challenges of each representative religious community. Participants had the opportunity to share experiences and ask questions. The discussion was successful and all questions were answered. The workshop ended with conclusions and comments that will be useful on the next stage of activities.

Panel for students – The Role of Interfaith Dialog in Limiting and Preventing Mass Atrocities

On 23 March 2022, as a  part of the 3rd day of the 18th Science Festival at WSB University, a panel for students was organised within  the planned events of  WP7  Awareness raising campaign of ProSPeReS project.

Objective of the panel peruse  the main goal of project which is to strengthen the security of religious sites. The panel was concentrated to:

  • Experience and best practices with radicalisation and violent extremism with focus on religious sites/public places with a high concentration of people,
  • Dialogue between religious sites operators, security units, managing, local and governmental authorities and the communities.

The lecture on the role of inter-religious dialogue in countering the threat of terrorism and mass atrocities was led by Adrian Siadkowski, PhD, prof. AWSB, with special participation by Piotr Cywiński, PhD – Director of the Auschwitz – Birkenau Concentration Camp Museum. In his interview, the Director drew attention to the parallels between past and present, the role of interreligious dialogue and the attitude of the Orthodox Church towards the current war in Ukraine triggered by Russia’s attack on a sovereign and independent country. We invite you to watch the interview.