Introducing the EU-POLNET network: strengthening collaboration among local police forces in Europe

Thematic session on local police and cities during the Security, Democracy and Cities conference in Brussels (20-22 March 2024). From left to right: Véronique Ketelaer, Expert for the City of Brussels at the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus), Pablo Enrique Rodriguez Perez, Director General, Madrid City Police (Spain), Jean-François Ona, Technical Advisor, City of Nice (France), Benoît Blanpain, Director of Operations, Brussels North Local Police (Belgium), and Mónica Diniz, Head of Prevention, Security and International Relations Division, Lisbon City Police (Portugal).

Brussels, March 2024 – Following the establishment of a European network of local police forces at the PACTESUR 2 project launch meeting last November, all partners had the opportunity to gather again at the Security, Democracy and Cities conference organised by Efus in Brussels on 20-22 March.

During the conference, a session on local police and cities emphasised the importance of basing police doctrine on the principles of co-production and community policing. Police chiefs from Brussels, Lisbon, Madrid and Nice stressed the importance of local police expertise in understanding community dynamics. They are implementing initiatives that involve residents in identifying and solving problems, shifting towards a community-focused approach to policing. Special attention is given to vulnerable groups, with programmes like vigilant citizens and citizens’ reserves engaging citizens in security strategies. Lisbon is even letting citizens define profiles of neighbourhood police, involving them in the recruitment process. 

The goal is to create a more human-centred police force, focused on solving community issues rather than just fighting crime. For example, Brussels-North aims to establish a police force dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable and maintaining social cohesion.

Communication about the role of the police forces is also essential to help the population understand their missions.  

“We are aiming for human security, advocating a cross-disciplinary approach to policing, in collaboration with the citizens, and a police force that is transparent, empathetic and confident with its population.”

Pablo Enrique Rodríguez Pérez, Director General, Madrid Municipal Police

The future European network of local police forces will be a means to exchange promising practices and leverage local police expertise. It will also help to build a common language and shared references for existing police responses and intervention procedures within cities, facilitating multi-stakeholder collaboration and local partnerships.

A European network of local police forces: EU-POLNET

Operating within Efus, EU-POLNET is a network whose aims are to develop European local police forces’ expertise and best practices through peer-to-peer exchanges, and to promote the role of local police in urban security at a European and international level.

The objectives of EU-POLNET:

➢ To promote the role and doctrines of local police in urban security policies at European and international levels;

➢ To organise training sessions and exchanges among local police officers and/or local police administrative staff by organising police academies in Efus member cities;

➢ To foster the exchange of best practices among local police forces by organising ‘Exchange Days’ and peer reviews on strategic and operational issues;

➢ To develop and coordinate partnerships between police forces and local crime prevention services (as well as with other local urban security stakeholders);

Many activities and meetings are planned in the next few months. If you want to know more about EU-POLNET download the information brochure.