Resolution 99 (2000)1 on crime and urban insecurity in Europe: the role of local authorities

The Congress, bearing in mind the proposal of the Chamber of Local Authorities,

1. Recognises that dealing with crime and establishing secure conditions in urban areas in Europe is a priority for European local authorities;

2. Records, as a consequence, its own work on the subject over recent years, conducted by its Working Group "Crime and Urban Insecurity" (President Mr Jan Mans (NL)), which has included the preparation of reports for the Plenary Session of the Chamber of Local Authorities in 1996 (Mr Ries) and 1997 (Mr Mans); in which a number of proposals were made to local and national authorities in Europe;

3. Observes that a substantial number of such proposals are now current practice in local and national policies for crime reduction in a number of member countries;

4. Recalls also the series of Conferences on the subject which have taken place:

- Erfurt (Germany), 26-28 February 1997, on "Crime and urban insecurity in Europe: the role and responsibilities of local and regional authorities";

- Newcastle-upon-Tyne (United Kingdom), 29 April - 1 May 1998, on "Tackling crime and urban insecurity in Europe through co-operation between local authorities and police"

- Petrozavadosk (Federation of Russia), 16-18 September 1999, on "The role of local authorities in combating crime".

5. Draws attention to the next two Conferences in the series, to be held respectively in Szczecin, Poland (18-20 October 2000) on "The relationship between the physical urban environment and crime reduction" and Enschede, Netherlands (September 2001) on "Local authorities and transfrontier crime";

6. Wishes furthermore to point out the preparation by the Working Group of a European Manual for Local Authorities on Crime Reduction, currently under preparation, which will be presented to the World Conference on Security and Democracy to be held in Naples, in December 2000 and to the Plenary Session of the Chamber in 2001;

7. Welcomes the fact that combating crime and terrorism was a significant priority in the Final Declaration of the Second Summit of Heads of State of the Council of Europe;

8. Recalling the European Urban Charter which refers to the right of European citizens to "a secure and safe town, free, as far as possible, from crime, delinquency and aggression"; and Article 29 of the Amsterdam Treaty by which the European Union must aim to provide citizens with a high level of safety within an area of freedom, security and justice by developing common action among the Member States in the fields of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters;

9. Wishes to record the strengthening of international bodies such as Europol and the successful networking activities of the European Forum for Urban Safety; the European Centre for Crime Prevention and the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime;

10. Welcomes the recent CEMR report on urban mobility and insecurity which examined the way in which the planning of public and private transport can help reduce crime;

11. Welcomes also the recent Opinion on Crime and Safety in Cities formulated by the Committee of Regions which calls for European Union programmes in action on the subject;

12. Desires to draw together the results of its work into a series of observations about crime and urban insecurity in Europe as follows:-

* * *

General situation

13. Crime, whether this be organised crime, drug related crime, juvenile delinquency, vandalism, burglary, anti-social behaviour, civic disorder, is of major concern to public authorities and the public alike in Europe;

14. To this genuine concern is added the fear of crime, whether this be real or perceived – a fear often exacerbated by the media;

15. Crime affects a significant percentage of the population; has high social and economic costs; causes a great deal of human suffering; and impedes citizens enjoying freely the benefits of material well-being;

16. Of particular concern are the increase in organised crime; juvenile crime; the increasingly young age of offenders; the emulation by young people of criminal role models; the increase in petty crime and anti-social behaviour; violence in the home and violence against women;

17. The judicial system is not always sufficiently adapted to protect citizens adequately; and the criminal justice system is not always seen as a sufficient deterrent;

18. Frontiers can easily be crossed by criminal activities, particularly with the assistance of modern technology, whereas they still act as a barrier to police work and policies for prevention and repression;

Causes and effects

19. Amongst the principal causes of crime are: economic change and/or decline: difficulties in securing legally an adequate income or living conditions; increased opportunities and decreased social control; social deprivation and exclusion; a poor or monotonous physical environment; inadequate housing; family problems; harmful effects of media violence; and, in a wider setting, the impact of zones of inter-ethnic conflict in Europe;

20. Political and social change in Europe, with increased freedom of movement, has resulted in a change in the type of crime, for example, high incidence of drug abuse and drug offences; racist attacks; a spectacular extension and sophistication of international organised crime; illegal smuggling of immigrants and clandestine immigration; economic fraud; diverting of raw materials; covert arms dealing, and concentration of criminal activities along new borders;

21. Such developments undermine public confidence in the democratic process, stimulate extremist movements, can provoke an anti-European sentiment and threaten human rights and democratic institutions;

22. Abuse of public position for private gain has also significantly reduced public confidence in the capacity of the political system to deal satisfactorily with this major problem;

Partnership solution

23. Considering that crime reduction is cheaper than repression; requires national and local political leadership and police commitment; a structured partnership rather than single agency action; an understanding that a safe community contributes to local prosperity; a conviction that other partners, particularly local authorities, are imperative; and, above all, a belief that local problems require local solutions;

24. Particularly welcome is new legislation, such as in the United Kingdom, where the “Crime and Disorder Bill” imposes an obligation of partnership between local authorities and police forces; and legislation which is intended to revise the structure and system for the care of young people;


General strategy

26. Recognise crime reduction and prevention as a key policy area and allocate accordingly the necessary resources;

27. Consider crime prevention as a joint responsibility of different sectors of society and therefore encourage the development of multi-sectoral bodies for combating crime at a local level, and a broad-based, balanced, multi-agency approach or coordination of public authorities, politicians, the private and voluntary sectors, media, universities, police and local residents and the public as a whole;

28. To this effect, establish local partnership groups or Commissions, accompanied by the necessary budgetary and operational resources to enable them to be effective;

29. Prepare as a consequence a plan which defines the nature and type of crime to be tackled, objectives, timetable, proposals for action and be based on a wide-ranging up-to-date survey of statistics and diagnosis of crime;

30. Develop a more pro-active approach, anticipating and preventing problems rather than addressing them afterwards and favouring a long-term rather than a short-term approach;

31. Strengthen public involvement, through neighbourhood watch schemes and other mechanisms which encourage citizens to stand up for their beliefs; protect their own safety and welfare; and recognise their civic duty to combat discrimination and take a positive stand against crime;

32. Encourage the local manufacturing and commercial industries to carry out situational prevention, ie., measures to reduce opportunities to commit offences and to increase the chance of detection;

33. Work closely with relevant specialist non-governmental organisations, recognising their value as a source of practical experience, information and networking possibilities;

Urban planning

34. Develop a community safety dimension in policies for urban planning eg., mix of residential/commercial functions, shopping facilities in housing areas, improvements to the physical urban environment, provision of open space; proximity of schools to residential areas;

35. Take active steps to eradicate known criminal activities in particular areas within their municipal boundaries and avoid creating disadvantaged and deprived sectors of society, particularly those who feel they have nothing to lose;

36. Take particular steps to improve the physical urban environment (lighting, open space, reduction of graffiti, litter) in the belief that an unsatisfactory environment is one of the causes of crime; and prepare and distribute explanatory brochures for the public on such causal relationships;

37. Conduct strategies aimed at reducing public concern about crime and fear of crime associated with travelling on bus, cab, underground or rail or by walking, cycling or driving;

Social and education

38. Devise targeted policies against violence in the family; against the culture of violence; against inequality of race, religion, social background and gender; and foster the notion of citizenship;

39. Help establish an economic and social environment in order to make crime more difficult eg., control and supervision of property ownership: ensuring that the provision of public services is democratically accountable: stimulating employment and legal business initiatives: and improving social conditions;

40. Devise and conduct drug and alcohol abuse programmes, in partnership with health and social services; develop information programmes particularly for young people inside and outside schools; promote awareness of crime prevention in education and youth programmes; promote sporting and recreational activities, particularly in deprived urban areas;

41. Strengthen informal social control through appropriate policies for a mix of residential/ commercial functions, adequate shopping facilities in housing areas, juxtaposition of schools and residential homes, etc;

42. Promote and reward civic courage, for example, in guaranteeing the protection of witnesses;

43. Develop victim aid and support schemes;

Police, security forces and judicial authorities

44. Secure the necessary agreements, with relevant governmental and police authorities, to consider the establishment of municipal police forces, in the belief that such forces have a good understanding of local conditions and are in the best position to develop a sense of confidence with local communities;

45. Ensure that such municipal police forces, once established under clear legislation, are placed under local authority control, have clear responsibilities, adequate finance, a high standard of technical equipment and qualified personnel and are able to function effectively in a practical manner;

46. Develop a system for co-operation between national and municipal police forces, with clarification of their complementary but distinct roles;

47. Strengthen collaboration and advisory networking between themselves, the police and the public in specific matters such as partnership in decisions about police zoning and timing of local beats and mobile patrols; provision of advice to citizens on reduction of opportunities for crime and theft;

48. Encourage police forces to reflect, in their composition, the diversity of the local population structure;

49. Discourage the proliferation of independent security forces, often operating outside democratic control;

50. Develop cooperation with the relevant judicial authorities, in order to clarify and strengthen complementary respective roles in crime prevention and control;


52. Ensure that the reduction of crime and urban insecurity continues to be considered as a priority activity in the work of the future relevant specialised committee of the CLRAE and in the CLRAE as a whole;

53. Present the Manual on Local Authority Policies for Crime Reduction to the Conference on Security and Democracy, Naples, 7-9 December 2000, and subsequently to the Session of the CLRAE in 2001;

54. Encourage partnerships between towns on crime prevention particularly those with innovative successful approaches;

55. Consider the organisation of meetings of Mayors/their senior representatives and/or Chiefs of Police in order to discuss informally common approaches to crime reduction;

56. Continue to cooperate with relevant outside NGO's such as the European Forum for Urban Safety, International Centre for the Prevention of Crime and the European Centre for Crime Prevention;

57. Cooperate with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in the steps taken towards creating a European Observatory for Crime Prevention, as proposed at the CLRAE Conference held in Petrozavodsk (see above, item 4).

1 Debated and approved by the Chamber of Local Authorities on 24 May 2000 and adopted by the Standing Committee of the Congress on 25 May 2000 (see document CPL (7) 6, draft Resolution presented by Mr J Mans (Rapporteur).