I have two children who were 4 and 7 years old when I applied for a job in the 112 Emergency line in Bulgaria. While I was passing all phases of the recruitment I worried and was sure I will not be approved for this position. I thought that my children are too small and it will be the cause for my rejection. I was not sure whether I am suitable for the job. I did not know if I’m good enough. I was worried because I did not know the system and what is the responsibility to work as an operator in 112 Emergency line. I was afraid because I knew that lives depend on the seconds in which you are judging and evaluating the severity of the situation. The lives of someone’s mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children depend on how quickly you are processing the signal. The lives who are depending on your judgment and professionalism. Today, nine years later, I am thankful to my husband, who saw the ad and gave me the courage by telling me that I will handle it. Today, I am thankful to my work as operator in 112 Emergency line, because I realized that life is much more valuable than I thought, and I contribute each day so many lives to be saved.
In 2015, 4,686,390 emergency calls are accepted and only 1,987,576 are real.
Who is responsible for the unreal signals received?
Who educates the citizens?
Who and how impose sanctions for the unreal signals?
Who measures the potential risk to the citizens? The debate on the reform of the Ministry of Interior includes the National System 112 and it’s time to talk about the responsibility that families and all institutions have for the unreal signals.
Each day is different. There are days I’d been shouted. Days when people fainted in my arms. Days when my stripes had been torn and people spat in my face. Days, I’ve heard and seen how the life vanished.
Days like these are not uncommon, but are quickly forgotten, because are followed by the other days. Days like today, when the people robbed grandfather Dancho have been revealed. Days which we cannot forget, because the tearful elderly man brought us, as his gratitude, a basket with apples and told us “Thank you, guys. Thank you, you’ve been here…”.
There are also the other days and they are the worst – days that you know you cannot help and you are powerless. Days when you wished you could prevent a crime or incident. Days that you want the institution you work in is not so unwieldy. Days when you are praying on behalf of the victims’ relatives to survive and justice to prevail. Days in which your are furious and angry. Days you are asking yourself whether it makes sense and do you have the strength to keep doing your job.
In those days, three things are keeping you to move forward: the love you have to the profession, the colleagues and people like grandfather Dancho.
With gratitude to my colleagues and grandfather Dancho
One official at the Ministry of Interior
Society and Safety Foundation is one of the few civil organizations in Bulgaria which puts as a priority on its activities the improvement of the “civil security” service provided by the Ministry of Interior, which is directly linked with the improvement of the quality of work and working conditions in the MoI’s system.
Regarding the Minister Buchvarova speaking at the press conference in the Council of Ministers on 13.01.2016 we are obliged to express our official statement.
Mrs Buchvarova, at the press conference on 13.01.2016 you said, quote:
“Therefore any further attemptс MoI to be criticized on this way – with insults, ridiculous allegations false information – typical “cop numbers” will be perceived as an attack on public and national security.”
Please explain on which point from art. 4 of the Act of the State Agency for National Security you relate the criticism to the Ministry of Interior.
You are absolutely right that “insults, ridiculous allegations, false information” can not serve as a constructive public dialogue on the subject, but only the court may classify the criticisms of the Ministry of Interior as such.
You have no legal right to do so.
In this sense, the position you express can be perceived as restricting freedom of speech, which is protected by Art. 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria. May or may not representatives of the media to criticize the Ministry of Interior? May or may not civil organizations to criticize the work of the Ministry?
In another part of your speech, you said:
“Reforms are on my computer. How can you comment on something you have not seen.”
The logical question comes, why the reforms stay on your computer and are not published for public discussion? At organised by us roundtable on 18 December 2015, we appealed for reform which takes into account the interests of citizens and ministry’s employees. We appealed for greater transparency in the management of MoI’s budget which is over 1 billion lev – all taxpayers’ money. The reform in the Ministry of Interior can be done only with broad public support and obvious action taken in the citizens’ interest. Don’t you support this position, Mrs. Buchvarova?
We would not focus superfluous attention to other parts of your statement that aren’t less questionable and are not meeting the legal framework of your position. We will notice that the Ministry of Interior cannot have “priority groups”, as it would be contrary to Art. 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Society and Safety Foundation does not accept the idea of unilateral decisions that affect the whole Bulgarian society. We openly oppose to any attempt for freedom of speech’s limitation and each reform the Ministry of Interior, which is not based on detailed research in the Ministry and after public debate on the issue.
And we say “Enough!”
Enough parceled reforms.
Enough savings to fill the budget for the next 12 months without long-term vision.
Enough reformes without at least elementary form of analysis within the ministry.
Foundation “Society and Security” calls for transparency and would support each initiative in this direction, but any reform that does not meet the needs of citizens and employees cannot receive our support.
Recent years, when we hear Ministry of Interior the associations which come to our minds are “ineffective” and “reform.”We are all aware and conscious of the fact that more and more often, when we witness or become a victim of petty crime we prefer to cover the harm ourselves rather than complicate our lives and alert, to write explanations, to do 5-6 times to the local district and finally, after all these efforts, to understand that we are part of “unsolved crimes”.
At the same time we are also aware that this is an institution that is funded, like all state structures of our taxes, but we as citizens have no control over the policies of this institution. Every year we hear statistics and repors about the increased levels of solved crimes – yes, by 2-3% per year, but it is still growth. At the same time, our life does not change. We do not feel safer or more comfortable for ourselves and our relatives. Our trust in the Ministry of Interior has not increased. We do not believe that if we are robbed, the perpetrator/s will be caught.
We feel that we are caught in a vicious circle from which the exit is impossible, but the Ministry of Interior and the “civil security” service is becoming more expensive and increasingly ineffective.
Using a simple mathematical approach we find that the population in Bulgaria reduced, but the costs of MoI increased in absolute terms and against the backdrop of the missing police in Bulgarian villages. This for Society and Safety Foundation means inefficiency and uncertainty.
Many researchers, representatives of political parties, local government or business will say that this is not so and that theMinistry of Interior is a working institution. And they are right … somewhat.
MoI works despite all political assignments. Despite the lack of vision and strategy for reform. Despite the poor working conditions, shattered patrol cars and missing consumables.
MoI works, because of the people who have remained in this institution. People who love their profession. People who want to be proud of what they work. People who want to serve to the citizens. People who want reform, but a real, long-term and reform which is meeting the needs of bulgarian citizens.
These people need support, because security is our common and shared responsibility and because to be safe and secure about himself and his family, we all must request the Ministry of Interiorto to be reformed in way which we as sovereigns believe it is correct.
It is time to start talking about quality and how to measure the quality in Ministry of Interior.
Much of MoI’s employees are ready. Are you?
The most important element of the whole process is institutionalized of forms and procedures for citizen participation in reforming the Ministry of Interior. The second crucial component is uniting around the need to prepare a long-term strategy to reform the Ministry of Interior, to be adopted as the Ministry of Interior and civil society organizations and the trade unions.
One of the biggest challenges is how to institutionalize citizen participation, without making structure cumbersome and inefficient. It is therefore necessary to set up an informal group of representatives of NGOs and professional organizations to clarify the parameters of functioning mechanisms for involving citizens and procedures for consultation with government representatives. In this period of advance planning is necessary activities and measures on the one hand to be provided to explore the expectations of citizens for the “security” and to hold public consultations and to what extent the Ministry of Interior can be reformed so that to meet public expectations. It is in the process of preparation and to provide mechanisms through which citizens can participate actively in the process of monitoring the activities of the Ministry of Interior and in making recommendations for improvement. In addition the components of active and broad citizen participation are necessary to provide institutionalized form of citizenship and have the necessary expertise. Therefore, it is necessary to attract two types of organizations: organizations with expertise on the topic “security”, MoI, civic participation and preparation of program documents, as well as organizations that have access to a wide range of citizens. This format will provide on the one hand the necessary expertise will enable the realization of activities on informing and consulting the public and will fill with meaning and content activities institutionalized form of citizenship.
One of the issues that should be discussed is whether such an institutionalized structure is better to be the Council of Ministers or the Ministry of Interior.
The reasons for this to be to the Ministry of Interior are related to the specifics of the activity of this structure, which requires consultation and debate on specific issues relating efficiency of the institution and the quality of provided service “security”. The functioning of institutionalized form of civic participation to the Interior Ministry will provide direct access and opportunity to work with experts of various departments in the Ministry, which will make the process more operational and flexible.
The arguments in favor of the institutionalization of such a structure to the Council of Ministers /CM/ are more – on the one hand, they are related to the need for reform vision and long-term development strategy of the Ministry of Interior be approved and confirmed by representatives of various ministries and agencies whose activities and policies will be directly or indirectly affected by the implementation of the reform in the Ministry. On the other hand, the constitution of this body to the Council of Ministers will ensure its independence from the Ministry of Interior. Representatives of other departments with rank minister or deputy minister, will facilitate the process of adopting the proposals at the level of CM and ensure the adoption of most of the recommendations of this authority. In the long term, the creation of such a structure to CM will allow expanding the scope of activity, interpretation of the “security” in much broader and synchronize visions for development and reform of the judiciary and defense.
Before proceeding with the preparation of long-term strategy the civic and professional organizations, and the representatives of legislative and executive power need to unite around a common vision for the Interior Ministry in the long run. The preparation of a common vision is associated with both study of the attitudes of the public and lobbying and consultations with government officials. The main issues that need to be discussed and be reached a consensual decision, before starting preparation of the strategy are:
Ministry of Interior is the only unreformed Ministry in Bulgaria, but also one of the ministries in which structural changes are the most numerous. One of the major structural changes that contribute the MoI to become a mega-ministry is the closure of Ministry of Emergency Situations and merger it with the MoI /29.07.2009 /. This change is one of the main reasons the scope and functions of the police to be expanded and the number of the employees to be increased as well. The functions for civil protection as nonspecific for MoI, took a very large financial, human and time resources for establishment of a model which ensures that mechanically merged with the Ministry of Interior structures will begin to function as part of the whole Ministry. The stress of merge, which endured as officials closed the MES and MoI, the lack of clear rules of interaction, changed principles of operation and interaction between institutions is extremely large. Shortly before the “merger” of officials from the MES, the MoI- in 2007, was “released” from the National service “Security” and the “protection of the means of communication” and a State Agency “National Security” was established. As a result of structural changes to 2009., the number of MoI’s employees is nearly 68 000 people.
In the period 2009-2014 structural changes continued. In 2013, from the the structure of the Ministry of Interior were removed General Directorate “Combating Organized Crime”/CDCOC/ and Specialized and the “Operational technical operations”/SDOTO/. CDCOC became part of National agency “Security” and SDOTO became the State Agency “Technical Operations” to Council of Ministers. Alongside these structural changes, the names of regional units and departments were changed many times and the number of employees continued the trend for reduction and in 2014 employees in MoI was 49 500.
All these changes were made without the participation of citizens, without an assessment of their impact on the quality of services delivered by the Ministry of Interior, and especially without an assessment of their impact on the employees. This long-standing practice is one of the reasons MoI to become the (auto) oppressive, suspicious, dehumanized, formal and disengagement institution in which the prospect of long-term reform and involving citizens in its implementation is assessed as a threat that must be limited, not as an option which should be used.