The Horizon 2020 research project SHOTPROS improves the decision-making and response of European police officers under pressure during high-risk interventions by developing new training methods, a training curriculum and a virtual training course.

The new project supports European police officers in the challenges they face

The field of action of European street police is constantly changing and new challenges keep presenting themselves. As they are often the first ones in unknown, uncertain and risky situations, police officers must regularly make rapid choices and react under high stress and pressure. Well trained personnel are then necessary to assess a situation correctly, make decisions and act accordingly under this high pressure.

Therefore, a training programme that focuses on these decision-making processes and the resulting intervention responses is the right way forward to improve the ability of police personnel to intervene correctly and efficiently in threatening situations. In this way, SHOTPROS contributes to improving the competencies and skills of European police officers, which will enable them to better prevent criminal acts and reduce the potential impact of this type of crime, always respecting the fundamental rights of their citizens.

Improved decision-making and response capabilities thanks to VR training

The goal of SHOTPROS is to develop a validated human factors based model for Decision Making and Acting in Stressful and High-Risk Situations (DMA-SR). Such a model is crucial to better understand decisions and behaviour when various stressors are present.

To this end SHOTPROS will develop a VR tool to experimentally assess to what extent various human factors influence the decision and reaction process of police officers. Based on these innovative insights, a training program with an accompanying VR training tool will be offered for the hands-on training of police officers in taking decisions under pressure during risky interventions. Stress-inducing human factors will be manipulated in this virtual environment. This makes it possible to offer training that is tailored to specific situations, contexts and individuals. A VR training that prepares police officers in depth for real incidents increases the ultimate success of police interventions and thus contributes to ensuring societal safety.

Markus Murtinger, coordinator of SHOTPROS, emphasises the relevance of this project: "Existing training courses focus mainly on the training of specific skills, such as learning how to use certain weapons. Attention to decision-making processes and actions based on these decisions during interventions is limited. Our goal is to develop a training program, enhanced by Virtual Reality, to change the current training methods of police forces and to improve the training processes. A more appropriate use of force should reduce (collateral) damage and decrease the number of escalations of violence in the field."

Role of Campus Vesta in this SHOTPROS project

Campus Vesta, the education and training centre for disaster management, is responsible for End-User Management in SHOTPROS, i.e., based on years of experience, it provides advice and assistance to the end users of the developed VR training curriculum. In this way Campus Vesta helps to deepen European police cooperation and also put our knowledge centre on the European map. Besides End-User Management, Campus Vesta also uses its knowledge as a training centre to organise field trials where the technology is tested and demonstrated, and supports the sustainability of the project by committing to the VR and police network.

VR for police, a drive into the future

In 2022, the project will make its final sprint towards the future. This European project takes an innovative approach to police training. The VR police training will complement the existing police training in the future. The developed technology as well as the scientific framework (Universities of Leuven, Amsterdam and Heidelberg and the Austrian Institute for Technology) are to be tested in 6 field trials:

• February 7-11, 2022 in Vienna

• March 21-25, 2022 in Bucharest

• April 4-8, 2022 in Amsterdam

• April 19-22, 2022 Selm (DE)

• May 16-20, 2022 in Berlin

• September 13, 2022 in Campus Vesta, Ranst (BE)

Campus Vesta is also organising, on the campus in Ranst, a two day European Conference on 14-15 September 2022 under the title "VR for police, a drive into the future". Can you help us realise this? Do you have expertise that can help us? Send an e-mail to