Interview with Dr. Martin Schairer, Vice-Mayor in charge of Justice, Safety and Public Order in the city of Stuttgart (Germany), July 2008
EFUS: The city of Stuttgart has recently joined the European Forum for Urban Safety. What has motivated you to become a member?
Dr. SCHAIRER: The good experiences from other international cities networks, learning from best-practice examples and the exchange of our own experiences to other partner cities.
What European perspectives do you see for networking with other cities?
There is no alternative to European cooperation, particularly on the local level. Our common aims must be: reduction of crime, fight against the root causes of crime, prevention particularly in the area of youth and violent crime, integration of immigrants. These are the subjects about which we should exchange our thoughts and experiences.
What is the focus of local crime prevention work in Stuttgart, and how is this work organise? How do the residents of Stuttgart participate in the work?
Our main fields of activities are the fight against youth crime and violence crime. Our philosophy is that safety concerns everyone, not just the police. This is why we have a safety partnership between local government, police and civil society since more than 10 years; and crime prevention is a top priority in Stuttgart. Otherwise it cannot work.
What kind of experiences in local prevention would you like to share with European colleagues? What other recommendations can you give?
I think our good experiences in cooperation among different departments and in networking of all institutions are considerable. As an example, I can mention the House of Juvenile Law (see best practice outline) which is well known way beyond Stuttgart. As a recommendation I would say: fight crime where it has its roots, this means to do it in a decentralised and very local manner.
What is your preferred local crime prevention project? Which results have you accomplished with it?
Our best project is the Coalition for Education (Bündnis für Erziehung). This is a cooperation of all of Stuttgart’s schools (more than 200) with the police, the youth department, the health department and local children’s doctors. The activities range from regular consultations (in schools, at police stations, at the youth department, etc.), hotlines for all who are concerned, mutual and short-notice consulting and support, to mediation and conflict regulation models and much more. They are all part of a particularly integrated and effective project. As always this is due to a decentralised and local approach.
What should you certainly not do in local crime prevention?
To rest oneself on positive developments of crime statistics.
What other subjects do you plan to work on in Stuttgart in the near future?
Our main focus is clearly in fighting youth crime and violent crime. But we shall not ignore the demographic development which concerns the whole of Europe, and we must increase our activities to strengthen the feelings of security among the population. It is well known that seniors feel the most insecure; the feelings of safety are an important competitive factor for every local community.