“Our main priority is to safeguard peaceful coexistence and social cohesion” – Interview with the Mayor of Cornellà de Llobregat

The city of Cornellà de Llobregat, situated near Barcelona in Catalonia (Spain), has recently joined Efus. We met with Mayor Antonio Balmón.  

Tell us about your city, Cornellà de Llobregat…

Cornellà is a city of over 88,000 inhabitants situated close to Barcelona. It is a dynamic, hard-working and innovative city, which is known for its history and culture. With an extensive public transport network and first-class facilities and services, it is an open, cohesive, plural and welcoming city.

Why did you choose to join the European Forum for Urban Security?

Efus is a reference in its field, with a long history of developing initiatives to promote and improve urban security. We are interested in the collaborative manner in which Efus works on crime prevention and security. Our concern for guaranteeing our citizens high standards of protection and security and the opportunity to establish links and work with other local authorities and generate synergies have also motivated our decision. 

We are looking forward to sharing experiences that are positive for us, such as our project of mobile security application M7 and our protocol of good crime prevention practices. 

What is for you the added value of working with other local and regional authorities?

It’s always an added value to share experiences, initiatives and projects with peers. Working in a cross-cutting way benefits everybody involved and brings new perspectives and approaches that benefit the citizens. 

What are your main security problems and priorities?

Our main priority in terms of security is to safeguard peaceful coexistence and social cohesion. We make sure that local residents have direct channels of communication with an immediate response from the local police, and we have a close relationship and permanent collaboration with the regional police and the national police. Our number one objective is to guarantee the security of all citizens. The M7 app I mentioned before is a very useful and user-friendly tool for vulnerable groups, for example victims of gender violence or children who travel alone. It is a groundbreaking tool for a safer individual mobility.

Does your city have a municipal crime prevention strategy?

The main mission of the Municipal Police of Cornellà (Guàrdia Urbana) is to protect the free exercise of the rights and freedoms of citizens. We have a Local Security Plan (PLASECOR) that includes prevention actions to avoid conflicts before they happen; it promotes the involvement of the different security actors, the assumption of responsibilities in its implementation, and the promotion of joint and transverse work with the different security forces and citizens.

It is structured along three axes – people, services and city – and includes nine action programmes: citizen security; road safety; emergencies and civil protection; vulnerable groups; public spaces; civility; security in public and private events; urban and daily security, and health and environmental security.

Could you give us some examples of actions carried out in your city that may be interesting for other Efus members?

In December 2013, the City Council of Cornellà together with a private company, Einsmer, launched a free mobile security application, pioneer in Catalonia, Spain and Europe, which allows immediate and more agile communication between citizens and security forces, and provides users with rapid response information in case of emergency.

The result is a very intuitive application that is easy to use and accessible to all, with the aim of guaranteeing security 24/7 and 365 days a year. In terms of its territorial dimension, a total of 16 municipalities have joined the initiative over the years. In each of them, the M7 System is adapted to the particularities of the territory and the needs of the local administration. Its versatility and hybrid format allow the M7 System to be constantly evolving and updated. It is a system of organisation and inter-territorial cooperation that allows the optimisation of resources and services between municipalities and security forces in the field of citizen and urban security, and enhances cooperation between administrations, as well as promoting the empowerment of citizens. We consider it to be a very useful tool that can be replicated in other countries to promote collaboration between European local police forces.

What are the main security issues for Cornellà?

One of our main issues right now is the illegal occupation of properties, a common problem in many countries. As we do not have competencies in this area, we have limited scope for action, although we are working to involve citizens in detecting such situations and alerting us. It is an issue that creates tensions among the population, and we are pushing for reforming the Spanish legislation. Other priorities are gender violence and incivilities, which may cause tensions between communities.