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Frontpage News 2017 The border guards' main weapon is their knowledge

New technincal equipment combined with training and capacity building, have improved the guards performance at the Polish border, says Captain Mariusz Ceckowski. Photo Credit: Maria Knoph Vigsnaes/FMO

The border guards' main weapon is their knowledge

  • Language skills and multicultural competence are among the Polish border guards most efficient tools.

    In a huge, green building in the middle of Warsaw, you find the head quarter of the Polish border guards where numerous workshops have been arranged the past months.

    “Border guards of today must have knowledge about other cultures and be able to understand and communicate with different people that cross our borders. Every day foreigners enter into Poland. They shall be met by a competent crew,” says Mariusz Ceckowski, captain at the Foreigners' Department, Polish Border Guard HQ.

    Illegal border crossings

    Nearly 50 000 people cross into Poland from outside Schengen every day, according to Foreigners' Department. On average ten persons are daily apprehended for illegal border crossing.

    The qualification project is part of the Schengen cooperation programme and is co-financed through the Norway Grants. Schengen refers to the passport-free zone that covers most of Europe. It’s the largest free travel area in the world, with 28 member states.

    imageedit_1_7510963924 Photo credit: Koen One Stop Map, Flickr

    Protect vulnerable groups

    Through various language courses in English, German, and Russian, as well as courses in law, regulation, and strategic communication, the Polish border guards have been taught to read different kinds of identification documents, identify stateless people and secure groups that are vulnerable to human trafficking like minors, women and disabled.

    “Every day we see improvements, especially when it comes to language skills at the borders. I think the main key is communication. Without language, we lack crucial information about why people want to apply for asylum,” says Mariusz.

    Here you can read about how a former projects modernised the Terespol border crossing at the Polish-Belarusian border.

    “Knowledge never ends”

    The past three years the qualification project 'Increase of competences and qualifications of public services in the scope of asylum and migration, with particular interest in the field of counteracting illegal migration', has been implemented.

    The project is a bilateral project between The Border Guards in Poland, The Office of Foreigners and The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

    “In addition to workshops in Poland, we‘ve had five study trips to Norway which were essential to develop new skills and gain knowledge about the latest computer systems. So far 1500 guards have been trained. I always say; knowledge never ends,” Mariusz says.

    When Poland joined Schengen in 2007, they became responsible for guarding the longest external EU/Schengen land border - towards Ukraine, Belarus and Russia/Kaliningrad. The removal of internal borders means that millions of people can travel between countries without showing their passports.

    However, open borders also increase vulnerability to cross-border organised crime including human trafficking, illegal immigration and smuggling; complex challenges that have required new training of the border guards.

    Interested in more stories from Poland?

    Read about the green factory outside Warsaw that are making plastic fantastic again, turning old tires into play mats and wallpaper.

    POLIN museum in Warsaw, where visitors can learn about the history of Polish Jews, won the European Museum of the Year Award for 2016. Check it out here.

  • Project title:

    Increase of competences and qualifications of public services in the scope of asylum and migration, with particular interest in the field of counteracting illegal migration

    Project number:


    Priority sector:

    Justice and Home Affairs


    € 380658



    Project promoter:

    Border Guard Headquarters, Office for Foreigners

    Type of Institution:

    National agency

    Project duration:

    22 months

    Project cost:

    € 456,947

    Grant from:

    Norway Grants

    The project objective is to increase the capacity of public services to prevent illegal migration and to strengthen institutional cooperation in the field of migration and asylum with particular focus on vulnerable groups. Project provides for the coverage of Border Guard, Office for Foreigners and voivodeship offices personnel with coherent training system that includes provisions, case law and practical implementation of tasks in the field of migration and asylum taking into account procedures related to persons who belong to vulnerable groups. In addition, complementary measures aimed at exchange of international experience and good practices in the teleinformation systems and migration were also planned.