Interview with the Mayor of Dénia (Spain), Vicent Grimalt, one of Efus’s newest members.
Why did you choose to join the European Forum for Urban Security?
Vicent Grimalt: We took this decision because of the prestige of Efus and its extensive experience in urban security. Dénia is a tourist town and it is important we keep updated on the most efficient strategies to fight crime and protect residents and tourists.
Furthermore, cities today share a globalised culture and people from all over the world now travel. There are also new social phenomena that have common aspects throughout Europe.
What would you say is the added value of working with other local authorities?
Working with other local authorities has the huge advantage of being able to share common concerns, issues, as well as our limited resources and competences to solve problems. It is good to be able to compare actions and strategies among peers. It is also very useful to be united, to have common objectives and to make our voice be heard by regional, national and European institutions.
What are your priorities regarding security?
Our priorities in the area of security are based on the very good level of security we have here. Indeed, crime is relatively low even though our obligation is to lower it even further.
Among other issues we have here is crime affecting tourists. Tourism is a key sector for Dénia, an economic engine that must not be affected by eventual feelings of insecurity among tourists who come here to spend holidays at the beach or in the mountains.
Another priority is the fight against gender and domestic violence. The Town Council of Dénia is totally committed to eradicating domestic violence, in particular when it targets women because of their gender.
Another important aspect for us is to improve social coexistence through mechanisms allowing a peaceful resolution of conflicts to avoid the judicialisation of social relations. We use an approach based on community mediation.
Managing social diversity is another important aspect. It is important to suppress cultural and social barriers that hamper the fair representation of all social groups. In particular, as an expression of this shortcoming, it is important to fight hate crime.
Does Dénia have a municipal crime prevention strategy? Since when?
Dénia has a population of 42,000 and a territory of 66 km². It is important for our municipal team to develop strategic lines in the short, medium and long term that are essentially based on prevention. The local security plan will be implemented in 2016; it is built around these priorities. There is a consensus on that.
Who are your local partners?
Our local partners are neighbourhood associations, trade associations, education and health institutions, as well as the police forces who work relentlessly against the various crime phenomena. Furthermore, the department of Citizen Participation centralises the queries of citizens regarding security.
Could you please give us some examples of actions carried out in your city that can be interesting to share with other Efus members?
By joining Efus, the city of Dénia wishes to learn from the experience of other cities, large or small. This exchange of experience is important in order to articulate a prevention strategy in our community. Dénia’s efforts are focused on gender violence, with the creation of the Artemis Unit of the local police. It works in conjunction with the Domestic Violence Court (Juzgado de Violencia sobre la Mujer) and with the Women’s Centre – which provides psychological and judicial support to women victim of violence – so that victims can receive coherent and comprehensive support, shielding them from further suffering.
What are the main issues in your town that you would wish to present to European authorities via Efus?
European authorities must keep supporting town councils and their plans and public policies for citizen security through the European Commission’s grants, through exchange and training forums, and by recognising the important work carried out by town and city councils in the area of security. Indeed, municipalities are the public institution closest to citizens, and they centralise most of the services citizens need.