Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, Prague, November 13th-14th 2003

Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe Chamber of Local Authorities

 Strasbourg, 15 November 2003                                           CG/CONF/PRAGUE (2003) 2
International Conference on LOCAL AUTHORITY POLICIES FOR CRIME PREVENTION IN EUROPE,  Prague, 13-15 November 2003
 1. Approximately 200 participants from 29 countries attended the Conference on “Local Authority Policies for Crime Prevention in Europe” held in Prague on
13-15 November 2003;
 2. The Conference took place at the invitation of the Mayor and the City of Prague and was organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the City of Prague;
 3. Under the general theme of the Conference “Local authority policies for crime prevention”, the Conference themes were:

a. the characteristics of crime faced by local authorities
 b. local policing in Europe
 c. the physical environment and crime prevention
 d. the strengthening of social policies for crime prevention
 e. partnership for prevention
 f. new professions, new approaches

all of which were illustrated by case studies from a wide range of the 45 member countries of the Council of Europe;

4. Further to the reports and debates on the above themes, the Conference participants:
 5. Wish to thank the Prague authorities and the Congress for having conceived and organised the Conference;
 6. Preliminary considerations:
 7. Recall the European Urban Charter of the Council of Europe which asserts the right to “a secure and safe town, free as far as possible from crime, delinquency and aggression” and underline that security is a vital factor in the quality of life and the well-being of a neighbourhood;
 8. That combating crime successfully is a high political and public priority; that crime is a global problem, transcending national frontiers, requiring collective and comprehensive responses in which all levels of public administration, particularly local authorities, the judiciary, police authorities and the public as a whole, must be closely involved;
 9. Whereas national authorities are concerned principally by organised crime, terrorism and transfrontier crime, towns and municipalities alone are capable of taking into account the daily problems of ordinary people, giving preference to partnerships, participation of the public and prevention policies;
 10. Characteristics of crime and local responses:
 11. Recent years have seen changes in the pattern and type of crime arising from political and economic change and demographic movement in Europe – the smuggling of people, arms and raw materials, the organisation of clandestine immigration, an extensive and pervasive drug trade, significant pockets of crime in transfrontier areas and cyber crime;
 12. Of particular concern are human trafficking, terrorist attacks and the organisation of increasingly sophisticated and ruthless international criminal networks, threats to the very values of European society;
 13. Some other factors behind crime in Europe:-

a. armed conflict, which in addition to the death and destruction in the area concerned, also contributes to a culture of violence and the emergence of aggressive male role models;
 b. the downward spiral of multiple deprivation, often in urban areas – poor housing, social exclusion, unsatisfactory employment prospects, poor education, which can generate a sense of rejection, lack of respect for human dignity and civic unrest;
 c. the absence of cultural dialogue and solidarity between different communities and creeds, helping to fuel conditions for violence and conflict;

14. Responses, particularly local:
 15. As a consequence, combating crime has strong public support; requires courage, determination and commitment of those holding public office; is a political and public priority requiring constant and extensive vigilance; coordination between a range of partners; effective legislation against violence; and a determined and pro-active judicial and political approach to intolerance and extremism;
 16. Unless there is a determined response and a coherent approach to crime prevention, there is a serious risk of the emergence of extreme right political groups and the distortion of legitimate claims to cultural identity for subversive and terrorist actions;
 17. From terrorism to incivilities in the street, insecurity is a complex phenomenon, which all too easily gives rise to dangerous amalgams and equations, distorted by the media, e.g. migratory flows of persons seeking a better way of life which should not automatically be associated with increased insecurity;
 18. Accordingly this requires a rigour in the analysis of crime in order to understand the problems more clearly, develop appropriate solutions and insist upon tolerance and democratic values. Security and liberty must coexist;
 19. Local authorities have a clear and fundamental role in crime prevention; that the public increasingly turns to local authorities when confronted by crime and insecurity; that not only are they a key component in the chain of security but also have a
co-ordination function;
 20. They should therefore have sufficient resource, whether drawn from national or local budgets, together with full information, to meet these challenges effectively. Such resources should be sufficient to develop a full crime prevention strategy and community safety programme; to have a well-equipped local police force, with a satisfactory number of police on the streets; to support the mobilisation of a range of different partners, professional categories and community groups in combating crime; to operate an effective media strategy;
 21. Concerning local police:
 22. Local police under the supervision of a local political authority are an integral part of good, transparent, accountable, local governance;
 23. In particular they are well placed to identify and respect local needs and factors leading to crime; contribute to developing local solutions; take a full part in a
multi-agency and partnership approach; reach out to different minority and critical groups and categories of population at risk; provide information to and dialogue with the public and media;
 24. The growth of trust in the police is vital in confronting crime; local police are in an ideal position to reinforce this trust;
 25. Whether local police forces exist independently of a national police or whether they are part of a national unitary system, it is fundamental that they enjoy a similar status, prestige, career development as a national force, with a clearly defined inter-relationship;
 26. As part of being aware of and responsive to the concerns of a multi-ethnic population, representatives of such a population should be recruited into local police;
 27. Concerning the physical environment and crime prevention:
 28. The negative impact on human behavior of a poor quality built environment has not always been recognised. Poor housing, a barren, monotonous environment,
wind-swept open spaces, inadequate street lighting, vast soulless housing areas, often with high-rise blocks with few social amenities, commercial outlets or community activities, are factors in breeding despair and tension;
 29. It is possible to reduce crime through architectural and building design; steps being taken towards the definition of European standards are to be welcomed;
 30. It is therefore essential to build in a community safety dimension in all urban planning and for local authorities to mobilise housing associations, residents and planners to this effect;
 31. Concerning social policies:
 32. Community based crime prevention strategies should be developed which:-

a. recognise the crime prevention needs of a dynamic and changing community;
 b. identify and focus upon the particular different needs and problems of specific groups and stimulate their involvement in crime prevention;
 c. ensure that the relevant services called upon to contact the particular groups at risk have adequate professional training;
 d. include guidance for particular sectors at risk and a substantial programme of victim aid;

33. In the belief that crime prevention requires a strong injection of targeted social policies, it is important to devise strong and clear policies for the fostering of social cohesion, the promotion of tolerance through education and cultural programmes; the respect for cultural diversity; and peaceful coexistence between different cultures, religions, minorities and communities;
 34. It is important to address in an equitable manner social, political and economic shortcomings amongst their populations and assure a fair and equal access to public utilities, educational and employment opportunities;
 35. Adequate sporting and leisure activities are an integral part of preventing crime, particularly amongst young people;
 36. Concerning partnerships:
 37. Crime prevention will continue to require the strengthening of partnership structures and a multi-agency integrated approach between different professional and social categories – led by local authorities with the full participation of police, emergency services, universities and teaching professions, social and welfare workers, media, architects, town planners, relevant NGOs, representatives of the social categories most effected by crime;
 38. It is important that such partnerships be contractual, with a respect of obligations, a preliminary diagnostic of the situation and in their objectives, reflect national and even international priorities; and an evaluation of their results;
 39. In particular it is fundamental to strengthen co-operation between:

a. police, local authority and the judiciary in the development of a comprehensive, preventive and penal response to crime;
 b. police and educational authorities, in order to familiarise children with the principles and techniques of security and safety;
40. New professions, new approaches:
 41. Crime prevention in recent years has given rise to new ancillary professions, for example, community safety officers, mediators, street wardens, auxiliary police forces; there has also been a rapid increase in private security forces;
 42. It is important that such professions and particularly private arrangements for security should be properly regulated, with adequate levels of training and above all with adequate democratic control exercised by local authorities;
 43. Equally there has been a rapid development in communication technology available to security forces, e.g. CCTV, E-governance which permit optimum use of police forces, e.g. rapid redeployment – but equally, satisfactory levels of specialist training must be ensured;
 44. Ask the Congress of the Council of Europe to:

a. give maximum publicity to the recently published Guide on Urban Crime Prevention and translated into a wide range of languages of member countries of the Council of Europe;
 b. strengthen its support for European bodies promoting an exchange of information and good practice between towns and consider for example, the establishment of a European network of heads of local police forces in Europe;
 c. ask governments of member countries to accelerate procedures towards a European arrest warrant to enable governments to extradite nationals of other countries who have committed crimes on their national territory;
 d. continue to cooperate fully with the Integrated Project II on ‘Responses to violence in everyday life in a democratic society’ and explore how the results of this project can be associated with the future work of the Congress;
 e. support the initiative of the European Standardisation Committee (CEN) to develop standards for the prevention of crime and reduction of the fear of crime by urban planning and building design;
 f. support the initiative of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to establish a European Observatory on Local Policies for Crime Prevention;
 g. support and if possible, play a significant role in the organisation of a major European Conference bringing together all interested local authorities and relevant professional categories to review the considerable progress of recent years in crime prevention and the multitude of initiatives and to reinforce the direct co-operation between territorial administrations.