Brussels, Belgium, April 2022 – How to develop partnership approaches in crime prevention? How to identify the right partners? Who takes the lead? What information is shared with whom? And how to make it all work according to each partner’s mandate and competences? This was the theme of the 2022 edition of the European Crime Prevention Network’s (EUCPN) biennial conference, which gathered, along with Efus, policymakers, practitioners and academics on 28-29 April in Brussels.
The debates were organised around three main topics: smart coalitions against organised crime, cross-border cooperation, and the evaluation of crime prevention. Represented by Marta Pellón Brussosa, Programme Manager, and Yves van de Vloet, Associate Expert and a member of the PACTESUR project’s expert advisory committee, Efus intervened in the panel discussion on cross-border cooperation.
The panellists also included Aarna Kinnunen, from the Finnish Crime Prevention Council, who introduced the ‘Nordic cooperation model’; Tony Verachtert, liaison officer of the Belgian integrated police to the Benelux Union, who explained the role of Benelux as a testing ground for cross-border cooperation within the European Union, and Mats Grundström, from the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), who explained how the agency supports EU Member States in the fight against crime.
Here are the main points of Efus’ presentation:
Security issues have no border
- Efus aims to promote a balanced approach of urban security that combines prevention, sanction and social cohesion.
- It advocates and promotes the importance of the role of local and regional authorities in crime prevention, which involves all local actors and citizens in the co-production of security policies.
- Co-producing urban security is a principle that consists of going beyond partnership and consultation to create a common diagnosis of what is needed, and implement it together in our communities.
- In practice? For over 35 years, Efus has been supporting local and regional authorities in the design, implementation and evaluation of their local security policy.
- Another important aspect of Efus’ work is to make the voice of local communities, represented by their local and/or regional elected officials, better heard and listened to by national governments and by the European institutions.
The importance of cross-border cooperation in crisis management
Efus explained that cross-border cooperation is particularly important when a crisis breaks out, as happened recently with the Covid pandemic and a series of climate disasters affecting various European cities and regions (floods in northern Europe, wildfires in southern Europe), or, for example, in case of industrial accident.
Based on the knowledge gained through its participation in several European projects on this issue (notably ALARM, which concluded in September 2021, and RiskPACC, which started at the same time), Efus said there is a strong demand among European local and regional authorities for more information sharing among peers. Efus members also call for better coordination on the one hand between the various public organisations engaged in crisis management, and on the other between EU Member States in order to deliver a more effective response to such crises which, by nature, are transnational.
Other key recommendations for improving cross-border cooperation in response to crises are:
Establish a shared analysis of the existing risks
- It is important to map out the existing risks affecting a locality and the available response means, to regularly update such information, and above all to share it with all the relevant stakeholders.
Raise awareness of the role local elected officials in crisis situations
- Are they fully aware of their responsibilities and provisions when a crisis hits? In particular, are they aware of their civil and criminal liability regarding risk prevention and the preparation of adapted plans?
- Is the cross-border dimension integrated in their local safeguarding and emergency plans?
A partnership culture between emergency services
- Cooperation protocols are essential and must be established considering the respective competencies of the local, regional or national authorities on the one hand and the operational authorities on the other. Local elected officials, in particular mayors, are responsible for the safety of citizens. Efforts must be coordinated while respecting the prerogatives of each level of governance.
|The role of local authorities during the Covid-19 pandemic |
Local and regional authorities have been at the forefront of the response to the Covid pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, and have proved their capacity for mobilisation: they have developed local emergency measures and schemes aimed at helping groups of population particularly affected by the crisis. Cross-border crisis management worked better in cities where there was an existing cooperation framework, common rules and working practices. The Covid crisis has highlighted the key role played by local authorities in responding to the needs of citizens in case of crisis, because they are the level of governance closest to them.
Differences in legislations can hinder cross-border cooperation
- Even though first responders can effectively work together on the ground, it is important to take into account that regulations and law vary from one Member State to the other. At the moment, there is no European-wide legal framework covering the intervention of emergency services across different countries, which can be a hindrance. For example, in Portugal, emergency responses are mainly managed at a central, national level, whereas in neighbouring Spain, the regions have a large degree of autonomy and power.
The example of the PACTESUR project
Efus presented the EU-funded PACTESUR project on the protection of public spaces against terrorism and other threats, which is led by the City of Nice and in which it is a partner, as an example of how cooperation among all involved stakeholders can bring more security. PACTESUR brings together three partner cities (Turin, Nice and Liège) and 11 associated cities (Athens, Edinburgh, Essen, Gdańsk, Leeds, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Munich, Riga, and Xàbia) who exchange knowledge and practices. One of its activities consists in organising local police academies in different European cities. The latest one took place in Liège in May, and gathered 50 local police representatives who trained together for three days.
About the European Crime Prevention Conference
The EUCPN’s biennial conference offers a forum to share knowledge and experiences regarding crime prevention across the European Union (EU). EUCPN is a network aimed to connect the local, national and European level and to promote crime prevention knowledge and practices among the EU Member States.