Solin, Croatia, 13 April 2012 – The Croatian magazine Zastita (in English: protection) is at the forefront of local urban security issues in its country, and has a unique position to moderate events allowing cities of the Balkans to exchange their practices and knowledge. Since 2009, it organises what has become the annual gathering of local elected officials and staff members responsible for urban security in Croatia. This meeting also brings together representatives of cities from neighbouring countries such as Bosnia Herzegovina, Slovenia, and Montenegro.
On 12 and 13 April, the city of Solin – the first Croatian member of Efus- welcomed about 120 participants from all over the Adriatic region for the 4th conference on Urban Security organised by Zastita, which was focused on situational prevention. Presentations were given by the Croatian Ministry of Interior and by representatives of the cities of Solin, Split and Zagreb on the importance of evaluation in Crime Prevention Through Environnemental Design (CPTED), and on local strategies of situational prevention (development of the social infrastructure in Solin, improving the feeling of safety and the quality of life in Zagreb).
Zastita and the conference participants were also very keen to learn from other European countries, especially since Croatia will join the European Union in July 2013. With the help of the United Nations Development Programme, the British embassy in Croatia, and the European Forum for Urban Security, the conference included a dedicated session on European experiences, with the intervention of speakers from the UK (Brett Lovegrove, former head of the Antiterrorist Unit of the London Metropolitan Police, and Pr Paul Ekblom, co-director of the London-based research centre Design against Crime), Hungary (Szandra Windt of the National Crime Institute of Budapest), and Efus (Mark Burton-Page, Efus project manager).
This conference was an intense moment of exchange. The fact that many cities of Croatia and neighbouring countries attended it, in spite of the economic crisis and consequent budgetary restrictions, is a sign that local authorities in the region are in favour of a preventive approach in the fight against crime.