Interview: Béla Danielisz, Efus Vice-President

Béla Danielisz has been the driving force behind Budapest’s EFUS membership in 2006, and has been elected as Vice-President of the network in 2007.  EFUS asked Mr. Danielisz about his views on European exchanges in crime prevention, on the situation of Budapest in general in the network, as well as on the opening of EFUS’ office in Hungary. 
EFUS: Since the adhesion of Budapest in 2006 at the European Forum for Urban Safety, you have been very active and willing to take important commitments in the network’s life. What motivated your decision to join the Forum and what are the city’s expectations related to its membership?
Béla Danielisz: Hungary joined European Union in 2004. The issue focused the attention to the fact, that topics which are very important for the commonweal, for example security questions, need transnational cooperation. It is especially true in the cases of public safety or crime prevention, because on these areas it is wellknown that the globalization of the delinquency and the risks have to be accompanied by globalization of the fight again them. Or, it must be at least transnational.  
Budapest joined EFUS in 2006 with the permission of the General Assembly of the City of Budapest, and started immediately a member-recruiter campaign among the states of Central-East-European region, and hopeful negotiations with Malta, which capital we exercised also a town-twilling process with.    
In the last ten years I have dealt with public safety and crime prevention questions in the metropolitan authority. The pragmatic experiences make me say that the regional or transnational cooperation is unavoidable in the efficient combats against the crimes. That is why I have tried to encourage the international participation of Budapest.
EFUS: Do you feel like Budapest has a leading role to play in raising awareness on the role of mayors in community safety issues in particularly in Hungary and, in a more general approach, in the region?
Béla Danielisz: Yes, I strongly believe that Budapest keeps a local and also a regional leading role in crime prevention in the area. We aim to motivate the mayors of the districts and agglomerations the best possible.
Since several years Budapest has run a determined combat in order to make the communal law enforcement certificated and in line with it, to open possibility for the creation of a municipal police force. In Hungary the problem with it is that the Police Act and the Act on the Local Government define inconsistently about the relationship of the Police and local authorities. We believe that the basic unit of the law enforcement administration must be the local authority.
The responsibility of the local authorities on the local tasks of the public order is contradictory as well, because according to the Act on the Local Government, their tasks linking to the public order are facultative.  In turn, the starting point must be, that in the future the public order as a mission have to appear as a compulsory task, not only a facultative one.  In line with it, the state should take on a warranty for financing also the local level of public order.
The situation is much better from the point of view of the regional relation, namely in the countries of Visegrád-cooperation, where the capitals run city guards which are models for us. That is why Budapest organised a lot of study tours in these countries. But so far the studying Western European experiences the suitable possibilities became opened for us only since our joining EFUS.
EFUS: We have noticed that there was a clear will on the part of the city board to involve all the members of your team in the network’s life, which shows a habit of working in close partnerships. Do you use the same method at a larger scale that is involving all stakeholders of urban safety in the definition of local safety policies?
Béla Danielisz: Since 12 years I have been a member, and since 10 years the president of the Order Protection Committee of Budapest, which deals with all the segments of the public safety. Since the last year I have also worked as the town-councillor of crime prevention for the capital authority. To the committee meetings which are held fortnightly we invite all the actors of the configuration of public order.   
Our experience about networking are defined by the speciality of Budapest, that it has 24 independent local authorities: the 23 ones of the districts, and those one of the capital. They are not in a hierarchical connection to each other. The capital authority is only one among the equals. This structure needs a huge competence during the drafting and the conciliation works.
In order to help the coordination among the districts, in 2007 we phrased the Charter of Crime Prevention, which regulates and unifies the policies and the cooperation on the area of crime prevention which is a quite new discipline. At the moment the Charter is by the districts, in case of compromising they will join the common concepts by their signatures.
EFUS: What is the main obstacle or challenge in the continuation of this approach?
Béla Danielisz: First of all the unregulated legislation and on the other hand the resource gap mean a serious trouble. As I have already mentioned the Police Act and the Act on the Local Government should be modernized, and the local authorities should become much bigger roles in the security topics. In the same time they should take on a larger responsibility. The biggest challenge is turning over the many-decade-long approaches and calling mayors and legislators in the processes.   
EFUS: Your commitment for European cooperation in the field of urban safety is also illustrated by the initiative you had to open up an EFUS office in Budapest. Could you tell us what triggered the initiative? And what are the missions that you envisage for this office? And also how do you intend to fit the activities of the Budapest office in the larger panel of EFUS topics?
Béla Danielisz: EFUS is a non governmental organization consisting of more than 300 cities and security partners, we celebrate its 20th birthday right this year. Among the acting policies of the EFUS the most significant are the changes of the experiences, know-how, seminars, conferences, trainings, which function as forums for supporting the creation of integrated vision, and urban policies in favour of the cities. Acting on it, we thought, it is a necessity to establish an office is the region which could support organization of activities in this region, and encourage local and regional authorities from the region to join the EFUS. It would also transmit knowledge, and forward the results of EFUS to the stakeholders. Such an office would enable EFUS to develop its network and include more cities and regions from States that recently joined the European Union. The personnel and infrastructural conditions of the Office are given, leading to no extra charge for EFUS.
EFUS: Is the conference on urban safety that you are organizing in April 2008 going to build on the results of the previous conference that you organized in October 007 on the topic of the Critical Infrastructure Protection? Could you tell us what are the general aims of this conference and how can European cities benefit from it?
Béla Danielisz: Consultation about critical infrastructures held in Budapest last October, ended with defining and publishing the Budapest Declaration. This document is about the fact, that the problem of the urbanisation is the most burning question among the lot of other troubles which wait for solution. Streaming in the cities generally goes together with the escalation of the pauperisation and the extension of the slums. They are the forcing-beds of the growth of delinquency. We have to transform 21st century with innovative way of thinking and acting in a creative structure, because we need new solutions in a lot of important questions. The trustees of all these acts are the local authorities which are elected bodies the closest to the residents. Local governments have to receive all rights, financial sources in order to be able to run their mission, and to serve the most properly for the benefits of local people. In this service they can find partners among the non governmental organisations, professional and social chambers, churches and institutions as well as joining administrative and order-protector organisations.   The conference under discussion is built on the lessons of the previous one, because it become more and more obvious, that the big cities are unequivocally the target points and ideal fields for criminals. There is a large population concentrated on a small area, and their infrastructural dependence is bigger than ever. So, an unforeseeably huge damage can be caused even with a quite small action. Local governments are elected boards responsible for the solution the most potent and the closest to the local problems. That is why their role is unavoidable regarding not only the safety and the level of the services, but also the warranty of the public order. In several documents European Union identified itself with the enhancement of the role of local governments. Committee of Regions named the municipalities directly those “in the frontline” either local or regional ones. Whereas, through this conference we made a step into the direction of the institutionalising of the criminology and crime prevention as an academic study. According with it we observe the problems with the instruments of the law enforcement studies, but we can not miss the results of the sociology, the jurisprudence and nowadays more and more the natural sciences. Even, urban anthropology has risen as a quite new discipline. As the speakers, we endeavour to gain European-wide famous certified experts, who possess comprehensive knowledge on their areas, and are authentic enough in order to warn to the problem revealed by them. Our Hungarian and international speakers are prominent personalities as well. In the same time, we have gladly learnt that on a lot of university of Europe exist already departments dealing with this specialization, and also more and more search-institutes appear for example on the universities of Paris, Barcelona, Milano or Urbino.