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.

 

 

Meeting in The Hague October 26-27, 2022

The activities of the ProSPeReS consortium continue. This time, representatives of the scientific community headed by the University of Lodz, security management of various institutions, public services including the Police and the Fire Department, as well as representatives and leaders or representatives of EU religious communities will meet in The Hague at a workshop organized by DISSS – The Dutch Institute for Safe and Secure Space and the University of Lodz. The issues of the workshop concern the preparation of tailored security measures for religious facilities under WP3. The meeting will be attended by 18 participants from various religious organizations from different European countries and the whole ProSPeReS consortium supported by European Commission, ENLETS network, etc. Joint discussion, exchange of views, and evaluation of previous undertakings within the framework of the ProSPeReS project will undoubtedly contribute to deepening cooperation between stakeholders.

 

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.

Vulnerability Assessment Workshop in Warsaw, Poland 10th-11th March 2022

The third Vulnerability Assessment Workshop in the frame of WP2 was organized in the premises of the Jewish Community of Warsaw.

Following the approach applied in the previous VA workshops here again to complete workshop the experts used developed diagnostic tool based on EU Vulnerability Assessment Tool/Checklist and EU Quick Guide. This time the place of worship characteristic to Judaism – the Warsaw Nożyk Synagogue – was subjected to vetting and specialist evaluation. The workshop was organized by the Jewish Community of Warsaw, KEMEA, University of Lodz and Warsaw Metropolitan Police Headquarters.

During the visit to the synagogue, representatives of different backgrounds, ranging from experts in the protection of public places, terrorist threats, explosives and CBRN threats, to policemen, firemen and representatives of the Jewish religious community, discussed security measures implemented in synagogues.

The experts’ deliberations focused primarily on the possibility of applying modern and effective methods and measures to protect such places of worship from terrorist attacks. The development of effective solutions to improve the level of security in the synagogue was facilitated by the exchange of knowledge and experience among the participants, who focused on the applicability of the developed methodology of vulnerability assessment in religious facilities. The discussion on reducing the synagogue’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks was largely based on information obtained from the staff of the visited building.

After analysing the state of security measures and identifying weaknesses in the facility’s infrastructure, the discussion proceeded to develop potential attack scenarios and determine their possible consequences for worshippers. The lively discussion was accompanied by the completion of special questionnaires, which were developed for the purpose of the diagnostic tool used.

In the end, the participants formulated conclusions and suggestions for further development of both the assessment tools used and the measures that can be implemented to improve security in the synagogue.

The vulnerability assessment workshops that took place in Ioannina (Greece), Lodz (Poland) and Warsaw (Poland) will conclude with a summary report that will serve as a basis for further work on improving the security of religious sites.

Workshops in the Archdiocese of Łódź

Vulnerability Assessment Workshop in Lodz, Poland 8th-9th March 2022

The second Vulnerability Assessment Workshop was organized by the Archdiocese of Lodz, University of Lodz and the Provincial Police Headquarters in Lodz on 8-9.03.2022 in the premises of the Archdiocese and facilitated by KEMEA within the framework of WP2. The physical workshop was preceded by an online workshop held on 3rd March where participants were introduced to the project vulnerability assessment methodology and tools based on EU Vulnerability Assessment Tool/Checklist and EU Quick Guide. In order to have a wider perspective participants came from different backgrounds, starting from experts on the protection of public places, terrorist threats, explosives or CBRN threats, police officers, fire-fighter and representatives of local church.

During the workshop the discussions among experts focused on modern methods and security measures to protect places of worship from terrorist attacks. This was facilitated by the exchange of knowledge and experience among the participants in focused on the applicability of vulnerability assessment methodology in religious sites. The discussion on reducing the vulnerability of religious facilities to terrorist attacks was based on information received from the staff of the visited church.

After the short introduction to the issues of the workshop and presentation of the main objectives and the scope of the planned work, participants conducted a site inspection at the main church of the Archdiocese of Lodz.

During the inspection of the site, the main focus was to identify possible gaps in the security system. The inspection focused, among other things, on the elements of the infrastructure located in the immediate vicinity of the building, the system of entrances and exits to the building, the CCTV and fire protection systems with it’s own security procedures. During a conversation with the parish priest, experts from various fields of security asked many detailed questions which were helpful at a later stage of the workshop.

In order to assess the state of security in the area of the church, a police drone was used and its operation was demonstrated by police officers from the Provincial Police Headquarters in Lodz. After the visit, a short meeting with the local media took place, where the experts presented the main assumptions and overarching objectives of the project.

The next stage of the work was a meeting in the seminary building, where we used the Vulnerability Assessment Tool to asses the site of concern. Based on identified vulnerabilities, the likelihood and consequences of various threats were analysed to estimate the level of risks. This was accompanied by a discussion on practices in protecting the facility of interest as well as other religious facilities before and during high profile events, the challenges involved, and potential measures that could enhance the protection of said religious facility. Finally, the participants formulated conclusions and suggestions applicable to further development of the assessment tools and improvement of the security in the Basilica.

The workshop in Lodz was conducted within activity on Vulnerability assessment – including in-site visits with workshops as part of WP2 – Vulnerability Assessment & Needs Analysis of Religious sites. The activity entails the conduct of on-site vulnerability assessments on selected religious sites proposed by the religious organisations participating in ProSPeReS. Three Vulnerability Assessment Workshops are scheduled in Ioannina (Greece), Lodz (Poland) and Warsaw (Poland). As the result the reports on the each workshop and the aggregate report will be prepared to collect feedback on the assessment methodology, identified common gaps, challenges and recommendations to the protection measures addressed to religious sites.

Online Conference on Interfaith Dialogue, ProSPeReS – Security Awareness Rising Campaign – 28th January 2022

International Conference “Challenges and Perspectives – Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Interfaith Dialogue” was organized by prof. AWSB Dr. Adrian Siadkowski and Dr. Karol Kujawa from (Academia WSB, Poland) on 28th January 2022 in virtual format. The founders of the project were represented by Dr. Rafal Batkowski from the consortium leader –  University of Lodz and the group of commentators was represented by the consortium representatives Ing. Pavel Truchly (ISEM Institute, Slovakia) and Dr. Timo Hellenberg (Hellenberg Inc., Finland).

The aims of this event were to promote the interfaith concept of the Prosperes project through bringing together academic scientists and researchers to exchange and share their experience and research results on all aspect of interfaith dialogue. Also, this event provided interdisciplinary platform for researchers to present and discuss the most recent trends, concerns, challenges and solutions related to communication between religious groups.

Scholars Elizabeth Drayson (University of Cambridge, UK), Ruth Bar-Sinai (David Yellin Academic College of Education, Israel), Fabian Brüder (Continental Reformed church, Germany), Agata S. Nalborczyk (University of Warsaw, Poland) and Hikmet Karčić (University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina) discussed what the representatives of the three most important religions in Europe have in common.  This event sleeked also the opportunity to build bridges of trust and respect with neighbours of other faiths and to develop interreligious solidarity, understanding that can promote justice, peace and understanding. We hope that this event provided an inspiration to learn more about our common roots. May be the most effective means of combating religiously motivated violence. In case your unavailability have not allowed  you to participate in, here is the link where you can find the conference record.

This conference was a part of a Security Rising Awareness Campaign of the international project ProSPeReS (Protection System for Large Gatherings of People in Religious Sites) under the European Union Internal Security Fund – Police (ISFP) 2014-2020.