Associate Professor, University of Panteion (Greece)
I am an Associate Professor in Geoinformatics and my research interests include spatial analysis, spatial statistics, geocomputational methods and open source software development. I give lectures in Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis at undergraduate and postgraduate level. I am a member of the Laboratory of Criminology of the Panteion University of Athens, which is directed by Professor Christina Zarafonitou, a leading scientist in the field of urban security.
The Laboratory of Criminology covers teaching and research needs in the area of Urban Criminology. The activities of the laboratory include the organisation of seminars, scientific events, the participation in research projects and scientific editions and the publication of the scientific journal Urban Crime. An International Journal.
Do you have any specific hopes or predictions for the future of urban security? (What will urban security look like in 30 years? What will be the main opportunities and risks?)
Urban security in the future will probably be based more on new technological means and tools especially in the field of tackling modern forms of criminal threats. Technology inevitably will also affect crime prevention in various ways. However, its valuable contribution to the field of crime prevention should not be limited to the simplistic solution of monitoring but rather it should be focused on improving citizens’ information, daily life and of course safety. Moreover, the utilisation of the large citizen capital in both fighting crime and creating safer neighbourhoods and the success of the participatory crime prevention policy are important opportunities and a future bet for urban security policy experts. A guiding light in this effort should be, once again, the respect of human rights, bearing in mind that ‘over-active’ citizenship in the field of crime prevention and urban security could be highly problematic. Against this backdrop, the protection of human rights and individual liberties must be central for security policy experts and achieving a balance between crime prevention and protection of human rights must be a top priority for the future.
Why do you think it is so important to involve citizens in urban security practice?
The participatory model of crime prevention is based on the notion that the responses to crime should be a social body affair and not only a State affair. In this context, the concept of community is implemented through the development of partnerships and the participation of the public on the basis of volunteering. The implementation of such policies at the local level is of great importance because it facilitates the detection of social problems as well as the prerequisites for the development of social solidarity and social cohesion and because social problems can effectively be solved at the local level. Thus, the social capital is considered as a crucial contributing factor for the success of the policies for the quality of life while the feeling of safety constitutes a focal point of all the above-mentioned policies that fall within the approach of the broader participatory model. Generally, citizens’ participation in crime prevention programmes or actions can contribute to the democratisation of local life since citizens’ engagement in public affairs constitutes a fundamental prerequisite for democracy, provided that such a participation is well organised and appropriately coordinated.