An interview with Carla Tavares, Mayor of Amadora, a Greater Lisbon municipality that recently joined Efus.
Why did you decide to become member of the European Forum for Urban Security?
The security of all the citizens who live and work in Amadora and visit the city is a key issue for the municipality. By joining Efus, we are able to work with other local authorities and to share experiences and good practices with other members. Furthermore, it gives us membership to the Portuguese Forum for Urban Security, which means we can now discuss issues of urban security with other Portuguese cities. We want to take advantage of all the benefits that come with being member of Efus, in particular the sharing of experiences and projects, the training offers and the opportunity to take part, in the future, in common projects with other Efus members.
“By joining Efus, we are able to work with other local authorities and to share experiences and good practices with other members.”
What are the main security issues in Amadora?
Amadora is a city of 171,000 with 41 nationalities represented on a territory of merely 24 km2. Security is thus an important issue. We want residents and visitors to feel secure and live the city fully. Amadora has few crime hotspots. This said, burglaries and muggings as well as the increasing phenomenon of domestic violence are among the main causes for concern. Security strategies that reduce crime through housing and social policies as well as policies supporting the most vulnerable groups of population are essential to strengthen social cohesion and make Amadora safer.
What programmes are you implementing to prevent crime and strengthen security?
We consider that security on our territory is a global issue that requires to have a dialogue on all the policies. The urban regeneration programmes we are conducting contribute to strengthening public safety, such as the building of outdoor leisure facilities or the improvement of street lighting. Furthermore, the city council implements policies to strengthen social integration of immigrants, an issue that is particularly important in light of the refugee crisis, such as the EU-financed “Arrival Cities” project. Amadora also led a project seeking to dispel prejudice and false rumours against migrants, titled “Don’t feed the rumour”.
In addition, we created and implemented a Municipal Plan Against Violence and a Municipal Plan for Equality, which are essential working tools in the community. Given that the municipality does not have a criminal police unit, it works in close cooperation with the security forces operating locally. An example is the video surveillance system that we are starting to install with the deployment of 103 cameras in the crime hotspots identified by the national police, notably in terms of burglaries and muggings. These are mainly the urban zones situated near parks and public transport hubs.
Furthermore, the municipality of Amadora is part of the United Nations campaign “Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready”. Indeed, by being well informed, well prepared and participative, a city can contribute to safety and face on its own natural or human disasters. The theme of this campaign is the need for local authorities to face, without fatalism, the eventuality of a disaster and to implement good practices that increase their capacities for resistance, adaptation and resilience. Under the slogan “Always On the Move, Amadora Is Resilient”, we have designed our own local strategy built on an exhaustive analysis of the number of incidents, most of which are of an urban nature (fire, flood, traffic accidents and accidents affecting pedestrians), and on the participation of the whole population in the assessment of the local risks and vulnerabilities through a community resilience process.