By the end of 2015, 8 140 users from 84 countries could interact and collaborate with each other in virtual communities. Of these, about 2 000 used the system for the first time in 2015 — an increase of 35 % on the previous year.
The Europol Platform for Experts (EPE) is a secure, collaborative web platform for specialists in a variety of law enforcement areas.
The Europol Platform for Experts (EPE) facilitates the sharing of:
- best practices;
- non-personal data on crime.
No personal data or classified information is exchanged or stored in the EPE system. Users can interact and collaborate with each other via virtual communities. Each community comes with a set of tools for content management such as blogs or forums, and communication, such as private or instant messaging.
The EPE hosts a broad variety of online expert communities dedicated to specific fields of law enforcement. These experts have gained a wide range of know-how, expertise and information, and that has allowed them to create an environment that fosters and supports online collaboration.
Europol Platform for Experts (EPE)Functionality
The EPE offers a set of generic functions that are customised according to the needs of each online expert community. The current core functionalities include the following:
- a library, where various documents, still images and videos can be uploaded and shared within your expert community;
- a message forum, where users can ask questions and discuss issues with one another;
- a blog, where users can publish news, promote events and announce changes to their expert community;
- a calendar, where users can schedule events or meetings for a community;
- a wiki, where users can work together to build a knowledge base within their expert community.
The EPE currently hosts more than 30 platforms covering a wide range of law enforcement areas. In 2015 , the top three communities in terms of the number of registered users were:
- The Secure Platform for Accredited Cybercrime Experts (SPACE), which allows specialists from a variety of law enforcement areas, the private sector and academia to share knowledge, expertise, best practices and non-personal data on cybercrime. Membership almost doubled in 2015.
- The Financial Crime Information Centre, which provides a support service to investigators and judicial authorities by collating information from various sources on financial crime — mainly money laundering and asset recovery — that might be relevant for practitioners in their daily work.
- Intellectual Property Crime, which aims to develop strategic analytical knowledge and best practices for academia, law enforcement and private industry on intellectual property criminality and counterfeit products.
The combination of EPE’s legal framework, its analytical capacity and its liaison network, representing all Member States and a wide range of cooperation partners, enables Europol to add unique value to international law enforcement cooperation.
Becoming an expert
Access to a specific online expert community is granted, by invitation only, to authorised users who are experts in a field of competence relevant to that community. Depending on the expert community, authorised users can come from closed groups of law enforcement officials or from large informal networks of contacts including non-law enforcement officials, experts from academia and the private sector. The online communities include experts from the European Union and beyond.
Individuals interested in joining a community must be invited by a platform manager. There are multiple ways to request this invitation:
- approach platform managers directly, for instance during an expert meeting;
- contact the relevant Europol National Unit;
- e-mail the Europol's Business Product Manager from an individual professional e-mail account, specifying the main online community of interest and describing one’s area of expertise.
What the experts say
The EPE is a fabulous tool. It provides us with an opportunity to share knowledge and experience (in our case on non-traditional ways of working and the value of adopting multidisciplinary approaches to combat organised crime) in a safe and secure environment and on a regular basis. We cannot meet colleagues across the EU face to face very often to discuss matters of mutual interest so the EPE provides an excellent, modern alternative to keep us in touch and connected.
T. W., National Crime Agency (UK), community manager of the EPE group on Administrative Approaches to Tackling Organised Crime