Public space protection: smashing silos and training together

July 2023 – A training platform in 4 languages. Some 90 security actors and 16 cities already trained. Practical exercises in 6 European cities. Five field visits. This is the balance in figures of the European Forum for Urban Security’s (Efus) project on the protection of public spaces, Secu4All, which concluded in June.

Led by Efus and a consortium of 12 partners over a period of two and a half years, this EU-funded project concluded with a final conference in Mannheim (Germany) organised on the occasion of Efus’ General Assembly and the German Prevention Congress

A pragmatic approach

Efus designed and launched Secu4All in 2020 with the objective of building the capacities of local and regional authorities and their local partners to identify and prevent the different types of risks that can affect public spaces

The project’s main idea was to approach things in a simple way. Problems such as terrorism are very broad, but can be fed by ‘smaller’ attacks, which you have to deal with when addressing terrorism. In the end, what are considered small problems can actually create or be big ones.”
Paul van Soomeren, DSP Groep

Efus adopted a pragmatic approach in this project that was focused on training local and regional authorities and their local partners. One of Secu4All’s main results is the design and roll-out of a unique and comprehensive online training platform, which combines theoretical knowledge, practical exercises and numerous case studies.

>> Efus offers this online training programme to any interested local or regional authority <<

Investing in training…

Concluding this project, Efus’ Executive Committee, convened in Mannheim, adopted a resolution in which it calls on behalf of all its members “for major investment in building the capacities of local stakeholders involved in the design, management and security of public spaces to create a common professional culture of public space management and protection.”

Indeed, the experience garnered through Secu4All and the work carried out over the past few years show that training as such, even though necessary, is not enough: it is also crucial that it be shared among all the relevant actors.

and training together

The need for joint training was highlighted by a number of participants in the Mannheim conference. “The diversity of the groups who undertook the training showed there is a real appetite for learning, which was greatly appreciated by the trainers. A big challenge however was to precisely to get all these people from diverse background to train and work together,” said Vincent Perez de Leon-Huet of the European Organisation for Security (EOS).

Learning together and creating a proper team generates real conversations, » said Vivian Gravenberch of the Dutch Institute for Safe and Secure Space (DISSS).

Citizen participation

Another key issue discussed in Mannheim was that of citizen participation. Staņislavs Šeiko, of the Riga Municipal Police (Latvia), explained that the Secu4All project had motivated them to better understand citizens’ needs and expectations. 

“City actors need to wear citizens’ glasses to better understand their needs.”
Staņislavs Šeiko, Riga Municipal Police

Representatives from the cities of Augsburg (Germany), Nice (France) and Strasbourg (France) shared their experience in better informing citizens, including them in local security schemes (e.g., organising open days at the Nice CCTV command centre), involving them in decision-making on security policies, better assisting victims, strengthening community policing… Each city has a hands-on policy to better involve citizens in the safety of their public spaces.

Next steps

Although Secu4All has now concluded, Efus is furthering its work on public space protection. It does so through other, ongoing European projects such as IcARUS and through regular exchange among European local and regional authorities of experience, practices and knowledge.