João Lázaro

President of the Portuguese association for victim support APAV (Portugal)

A crime is usually an unexpected event that has negative consequences for the people it directly and indirectly affects. Apart from its physical, emotional and psychological consequences, a crime throws victims into a whole new world, that of the criminal justice system whose formal procedures are hardly known by the general population. When somebody becomes victim of a crime away from their home, they are faced with obstacles that may seem daunting since they are not familiar with their rights in a ‘strange’ country nor with the local institutions and justice system. APAV can play an important role in helping tourists who are victim of crime by providing specific procedures and assistance. 



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?)

Artificial Intelligence can have a decisive role in how the city is seen and planned. Data management systems can be used (considering data protection issues) for urban planning, to inform decisions that can bring a better quality of life and to bring new ideas about security.  Covid also brought a new perspective to decision makers on how community life can be better promoted and valued. 


Why do you think it is so important to involve citizens in urban security practice?

Life in a city is made by all the people who share its public and private spaces, whether local residents, nationals of the country where the city is located, tourists or visitors. Decisions and proposals related to life in the city must involve all the relevant stakeholders, at various degrees, to ensure that the consequences of the decisions that are taken are appropriated by the majority of people. Civil society organisations play a key role in this sense, since they have the capacity and knowledge to speak up for many people who live in cities.