February 2021 – The Belgian Forum for Prevention and Urban Security (BeFUS) celebrated its 25th anniversary with an online symposium on methodologies and local political strategies aimed at improving citizens’ feeling of security, on 21 January. BeFUS invited Efus to take part in this event to show its objective of strengthening exchanges between Belgian local and regional authorities with their peers from other European countries.
Introduced by BeFUS President, Dorah Ilunga, Mayor of Saint-Josse-ten-Node (Brussels-Capital region), the webinar gathered BeFUS members and their local partners as well as Efus, represented by Elizabeth Johnston, Executive Director, and Pilar De La Torre, Programme Manager.
Making urban security policies more transverse
This initiative was aimed at fostering an exchange of knowledge and practices among BeFUS members and with local and regional authorities from other European countries in order to “strengthen expertise on security and on feelings of insecurity” and improve cooperation between the different levels of governance in Belgium regarding local security strategies and policies.
The symposium included five ‘Innovation Lab’ sessions on 1) local governance and crisis management, 2) social inclusion of people with multiple diagnostics, 3) polarisation and ‘us and them’ thinking, 4) nuisances and incivilities, 5) the reintegration of young offenders aged 15 to 18.
Developing new forms of solidarity
The workshop participants all agreed on a number of recommendations:
- Regarding the social inclusion of people affected by ‘multiple diagnostics’, local partners play a key role. Furthermore, it is necessary to strengthen collaboration between the relevant stakeholders, notably in the areas of health, housing and security.
- Concerning peaceful coexistence: new forms of solidarity must be developed and efforts strengthened to make society more inclusive, notably through alternative and inclusive discourses in response to hate speech, both in society and online.
- In order to improve the prevention of nuisances and incivilities, collaborative preventive work is necessary to develop awareness actions (primary prevention actions) in public spaces.
- In order to improve the reintegration of offenders and the prevention of victimisation, it is necessary to work in a transverse manner and to favour a restorative approach, which is focused on repairing the harm, on leading perpetrators to acknowledge their action, and on mediation between perpetrators and victims.