“I would like to thank the European Forum for enabling progress to be made in the prevention of re-offending”, said Jacques Salvator, Mayor of Aubervilliers, 10 December 2013 in Brussels, recalling the fact that it was at the Efus international conference in 2012 that the idea of a consensus conference on the prevention of re-offending, which was organised in France in February 2013, was partly conceived.
Efus and European cities have been engaged for the past 25 years in building holistic and inclusive security policies that tackle all aspects of prevention. Thus, the rehabilitation of offenders and prevention of reoffending should be integrated in local security policy.
The role of cities and the importance of partnerships
While sanctioning and implementing sanctions are the responsibility of the State’s judicial system, cities play an important role in implementing community based alternatives. Furthermore, cities are on the front line when it comes to balance the needs of individuals versus those of the community, and the needs of victims versus those of offenders. The European Forum formulated guiding principles in this regard through a resolution (also available in German) adopted in 2011 by its Executive Committee. In particular, this resolution affirms that “local elected officials must have a say about the world of prison, and facilitate the building of bridges between prisons and the outside world. NGOs and civil society stakeholders involved in the rehabilitation of ex-prisoners also have an important role to play in building such bridges.”
In order to enact this principle at the local level, it is necessary to build ad hoc partnerships. Indeed, there is a wide gap between prison and cities, which can only be bridged through a global approach involving a wide range of stakeholders. During Efus international conference “Security, Democracy and Cities: The Future of Prevention”, held in December 2012 in Aubervilliers and in Saint-Denis, cities insisted on the need for cross-cutting responses that should be built in partnership with the police, victims’ organisations, the penitentiary administration, probation services and local elected officials.
During this conference, a strategic partnership was agreed between Efus and the European Organisation for Probation (CEP) in order to strengthen and enable a dialogue between cities and probation.
Tools for and by cities
Efus wishes today to recall the work recently undertaken to accumulate and exchange practices, and contribute to the training of local stakeholders. Indeed, Efus led with the financial support of the European Commission two projects respectively aimed at gathering practices implemented in six European Union countries (2007-2009), and at elaborating professional training programmes based on a specific methodology (2010-2012).
More information on these projects on www.stop-reoffending.org.
Two publications containing tools for local elected officials and partnership stakeholders were released.
The first, published in 2009, is a practical guide for the implementation of a local reoffending prevention scheme based on partnership. It includes 10 case studies and 14 political recommendations.
The second, published in 2012, is a methodology “toolbox” that can be used to build, step by step, a local training programme focused on local partnerships. This publication is available in six languages.
An online training platform, also published in six languages, is available for local stakeholders involved in the prevention of reoffending. It is based on practices developed in a series of European cities. (For more information, see: http://efus.eu/en/topics/risks-forms-of-crime/reoffending/efus/2952/
This platform includes educational video clips, interviews with stakeholders, written descriptions of good practices, as well as a series of methodological recommendations. Key themes are addressed in a lively, user-friendly manner:
- What are the principles and challenges of a policy on the prevention of reoffending?
- How to establish a partnership, which is key when confronting the question of the prevention of reoffending?
- How to manage a partnership? A partnership cannot be decreed, it needs to be accompanied by analyses and explanations, to be monitored and evaluated.
- What are the best practices implemented internationally on key questions such as housing, job hunting, health, and reintegration in the community?
- What methodological tools can we develop to improve the system?
Some 20 interviews are available. Here is a selection:
In 2011-2012, the French Forum for Urban Security set up and managed a work group on the prevention of reoffending, in which Efus participated. It was piloted by the city of Paris and gathered the cities of Lille, Le Havre, Valenciennes, Lyon, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, and Thonon les Bains, as well as the General Council (Conseil Général) of the Val d’Oise and the French National Agency for Social Cohesion and Equal Opportunities (Agence nationale pourla Cohésion sociale et l’Egalité des Chances, ACSé). Several meetings were held on employability, access to housing, family relations and reintegration into the community.