Paris, France, October 2019 – What efficient tools are available to better prevent petty crime and its impact? The Cutting Crime Impact (CCI) European project, led by the University of Salford and in which Efus is a partner, seeks to answer to that question. The project is funded by Horizon 2020, the EU’s largest research and innovation programme.
Over three years (October 2018 – October 2021), CCI will seek to mainstream a preventive approach to petty crimes that have significant impact on citizens. To do so, the project members will develop accompanying tools for the police and political decision-makers.
> Reducing the impact of crime
CCI examines crimes that have a negative impact on citizens: violent assault, theft, burglary, anti-social behaviour… Its objective is to enable police and local and national authorities to reduce the impact of such crimes with tools that it will develop.
> Four main themes
CCI will develop tools related to four topics (among all those examined by the project). Below are a series of practices put in place by European cities that illustrate these topics.
> Predictive policing
Predictive policing is the application of predictive and analytical techniques on a wide range of data in order to facilitate early detection of crime issues. In 2014, the Police of Lower Saxony (DE) designed a pilot project to develop a predictive policing app called PreMap (mobile predictive analysis for law enforcement). Thanks to this software, the Police of Lower Saxony increased the number of patrols in areas at high risk of crime, which they say curbs the number of crimes committed and enables them to arrest criminals in fraganti. PreMap also operates as a ‘crime radar’ that compiles the number of infractions in public spaces over a period of four weeks.
> Community policing
The aim of community policing is to foster trust among local residents. Also, it must be considered as legitimate. This branch of law enforcement deals with anti-social behaviour, crime prevention and sometimes the prevention of radicalisation.
The community policing model developed in Lisbon (PT) is focused on analysing the cause of problems identified by citizens. The aim is to understand why they occur and to mobilise local resources to mitigate or prevent them. The police are in contact with representatives of the local population in order to better understand their security concerns.
In 2017, through a project implemented in the Padre Cruz neighbourhood – a sprawling social estate where the majority of the population is on low income –, the local police and local representatives were trained with the aim of increasing cooperation between local police officers, social workers and residents.
> Crime Prevention through Urban Design and Planning
Crime prevention can also be incorporated in urban design and planning. This means that security measures are embedded within the design of buildings and open spaces in order to prevent crime and reduce feelings of insecurity.
In 2005, the Greater Manchester Police (GB) made it mandatory to include crime prevention in the design and construction of buildings. But this was quickly deemed insufficient as the plan didn’t focus enough on the design itself, and it became mandatory to incorporate security provisions at three stages: briefing, design and detailed concept of the building.
The Greater Manchester Police has an ‘architectonic liaison unit’ gathering officers specialised in security and in managing criminal threats who draft surveys assessing the degree of risk of any given site, which include recommendations to limit crime.
> Measuring and reducing feelings of insecurity
Crime affects directly citizens’ feeling of security. It is thus important to measure and mitigate it.
In 1984, Barcelona (SP) decided to conduct a survey on the impact of aggressions and insecurity on the city. This annual survey informs public policies. It includes the following information: a public security survey that takes into account aggressions against citizens, their views on security, law enforcement, the justice system and the administration; information sent by the judicial administration, and information sent by the municipal departments of Youth and Health as well as social services.
> An innovative research and design process
In order to create a range of solutions to prevent and mitigate the local impact of crime, the CCI project uses DesignLab, a creative approach to problem solving and designing solutions involving cooperation between researchers, designers and security stakeholders. The objective is to develop products and services that match the practices, demands and preferences of end users (law enforcement and security practitioners). DesignLab’s originality is that it reframes the problems that have been identified, disputes hypotheses in a creative manner, and generates new ideas.
> Towards a European security model
With the support of Efus, CCI seeks to include petty crime in the European security agenda. The EU’s current internal security strategy is primarily focused on terrorism and radicalisation, organised crime, and cybercrime. But in order to establish stronger bonds between European institutions and citizens, it is crucial to incorporate petty and daily crime because their impact on citizens can be equally significant.
Andrew B. Wootton
Director, Design Against Crime Solution Centre, University of Salford
Executive Director, European Forum for Urban Security