Crime and urban security in Europe - CPL (4) 5 Part II


Mr J. Mans (Netherlands)




The European Urban Charter asserts the basic right for citizens of European towns to "a secure and safe town, free, as far as possible, from crime, delinquency and aggression" - an important statement, considering that in the Middle-Ages towns and city walls were built to protect people from aggression from outside and offer them a safe place to live and work. In contrast, during the last decades, citizens have been leaving some of the same towns for the suburbs or the countryside, partly because of urban crime and insecurity.

Crime, fear of crime and urban insecurity are significant preoccupations affecting the public as a whole, as well as political leaders of contemporary Europe. Ten years after the major CLRAE crime prevention Conference organised in Barcelona in 1987, major social, economic and political changes have taken place in Europe. These changes have had an impact on the scope and nature of crime. Increasing crime and growing feelings of insecurity demand satisfactory solutions. It is principally at the local level where the impact is felt; and it is at the local level where responsibilities and a search for solutions are met and should be found.

In this context therefore, the CLRAE Working Group on Crime and Urban Insecurity has prepared this report for the 1997 Plenary Session of the Chamber of Local Authorities. In the Preliminary Report by Mr Ries, presented at the 1996 Session, a number of problems and local authority solutions have already been identified.

My report builds upon that of Mr Ries, a fellow member of the Working Group. The report also incorporate the material presented at the recent CLRAE Conference on "Crime and Urban Insecurity in Europe: the role and responsibilities of local and regional authorities" Erfurt, Germany (26-28 February 1997).

1. The Erfurt Conference, 26-28 February 1997

One of the major Conferences organised by the CLRAE in recent years was on the subject of local and regional policies for crime prevention. It was held in Erfurt on 26 to 28 February and organised jointly with the Free State of Thuringia and the City of Erfurt.

It was attended by approximately 350 delegates from 29 European countries, made up of politicians from different levels of public administration in member countries, representatives of the police and the judiciary, university specialists, professionals and NGO's concerned by the subject.

The Conference was structured around three themes (see item 2 below) which were illustrated on the basis of reports and case studies.

A number of European personalities addressed the Conference, eg. the Mayor of Palermo, the Director of Europol, the Deputy Minister for Nationalities and Minorities, Russia, the Professor of Criminology at Cambridge University, etc.

Personalities present from the host German authorities were the President of Thuringia, Dr Vogel; the Minister for Justice and European Affairs in Thuringia, Mr Kretschmer; the Mayor of Erfurt, Mr Ruge; and Professor Schelter, Secretary of State from the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Bonn.

The collected papers will be published shortly by the Secretariat of the Council of Europe.

The Conference provided a valuable platform for an exchange of information and experience and the definition of common policy. It is likely to be followed by further specialised seminars and another major conference on the subject (see items 44 and 45 below).

2. Themes of the Erfurt Conference

The themes of the Erfurt Conference were selected in order to give a comprehensive survey of problems and policies. They were:-

- a review of current crime trends and causes;
- the role and responsibilities of local and regional authorities;
- international collaboration between local and regional authorities.

The results of the theme discussion were brought together into a Final Declaration. Many elements of this have been incorporated into the Resolution accompanying this Report.

3. The Barcelona Conference, 1987

The Erfurt Conference took place 10 years after the first major CLRAE Conference on the subject held in Barcelona in October 1987 at the invitation of the Mayor of Barcelona.

The Barcelona Conference examined six themes:-

- the social development of neighbourhoods, participation and the reduction of insecurity and urban violence;

- local policies and experiences concerning the rehabilitation of victims and offenders;

- statistics, data banks, victimisation surveys and the possibility of creating a European data bank for security and crime prevention;

- the role of the police, particularly their relationship with the community as a whole and the participation of local authorities in the action of police services;

- the relationship between the urban physical environment and the reduction of insecurity, eg., town planning measures which might be taken to reduce the level of urban delinquency;

- the relationship between drug abuse and crime; and local authority policies for the prevention of drug abuse.

An extensive Final Declaration brought together the results of the theme discussions.

The Secretariat of the Council of Europe has published the proceedings as a volume in the Urban Renaissance Study Series.

The Barcelona Conference was also the occasion for the creation of the European Forum for Urban Security whose first President, Mr Gilbert Bonnemaison, played a leading role at the Conference itself.

Apart from any other consideration, the CLRAE thought it worthwhile organising the Erfurt conference 10 years after Barcelona in that during recent years, a number of major political, economic and social changes have taken place in Europe - certainly with impact upon crime patterns and social behaviour.

4. The Report and Resolution of Mr Ries, CLRAE Rapporteur for the Session of the Chamber 1996

The current Explanatory Memorandum and accompanying Resolution and Recommendation have been built upon the preliminary report prepared for the 1996 Session of the Chamber of Local Authorities, by Mr Roland Ries, Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg, member of the CLRAE Working Group on Crime and Urban Insecurity.

The report by Mr Ries and the accompanying Resolution identified a number of causes and characteristics of crime patterns in Europe, together with proposals for local authority policies.


5. Crime and Urban Insecurity in Europe

Fear of crime and crime itself are certainly one of the main concerns of the population of European cities.

First of all, for the purposes of this report, what is meant by insecurity and crime?

Insecurity can be described as all acts that cause material or immaterial harm and damage. In respect of the reasons for insecurity, there is a difference between accidental and illegal acts. Crime refers to the latter. There is also clearly a difference in the severity of crime, but all criminal acts have in common the fact that there is an offender, a victim(s) and a given situation.

There are two sides to the crime question.- (a) actual, reported crime and (b) fear of crime and the feeling of insecurity.

There is evidently some difference between actual crime, which is committed, provoking a climate of objective insecurity, and crime which is simply perceived by people without necessarily being committed, ie., subjective insecurity. It happens, of course, that crime exists, without anyone noticing it, or that crime is thought to be high, but in fact is not. People can actually feel insecure or are afraid of becoming victims, when in reality there is little or no danger.

Both aspects are of concern in crime-prevention programmes. The prevention of crime is not the only target; it is also a public benefit that people feel safe and do not have to live in fear of becoming a victim. In recent years the political and social significance of a sentiment of insecurity has widened. Such sentiments and the fear crime have widespread effects on civic life as a whole.

Crime is varied. At the lowest level of severity are, for example, vandalism and disturbance of public order. More severe are crimes in which illegal possession is involved, such as theft of cars, goods, burglary, etc. The most severe crime concerns violence towards people or major organised crime.

Local and regional authorities are, in the first place, concerned with preventing or combatting `petty' and `urban' crime. Dealing with major organised crime is more a responsibility for national authorities and police and judicial forces, but even so it has its influence on local communities. Offender-orientated crime prevention tries to devise strategies that interrupt the likely path of a criminal career: eg, young people who scrawl graffiti on walls, may later become involved with petty larceny and become more easily attracted to the lower echelons of criminal organisations.

These are some aspects of crime, to which I would like to draw attention initially.

The political concern about crime in Europe is, as a consequence, considerable. Election manifestos of virtually all political parties put it high on their agenda. Virtually every international governmental organisation has a programme devoted to the question. In the Council of Europe itself, not only does the CLRAE work on the subject, but there is an active intergovernmental Steering Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) which has been pursuing, for many years, the question of crime policy. Incidentally, I would like to see this Committee undertake more work on urban insecurity.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe has proposed, as part of his "New Initiatives" programmes for some countries of Central and Eastern Europe, an activity on crime, examining crime prevention policies in a number of case cities in Central and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, it could well be the case that crime and urban insecurity will be on the agenda of the Heads of State of member countries of the Council of Europe at the Second Summit to be held in Strasbourg in October 1997.

In addition, a number of international non-governmental organisations are highly active on the subject. For example, representatives of three such organisations spoke at the recent Erfurt Conference: the European Forum for Urban Security (Paris); the International Crime Prevention Council (Montreal) and the European Centre for Crime Prevention (Münster).

6. Levels of crime and juvenile delinquency

The preparation of statistics and their analysis can be a highly subjective matter. The method of deriving statistical information and upon what type of crime, varies from country to country. Furthermore, there is still no single European agency which has the task of compiling crime statistics for all countries. Different organisations, eg., Europol, have specific information according to the particular requirements of the organisation in question.

One of the Barcelona Recommendations was for the creation of a European Observatory on Crime which would have, as one of its tasks, the compilation of such statistics but this has not, as yet, been achieved.

Nevertheless, from material at my disposal and with the material emerging from organisations such as the UN, crime statistics have shown a general increase in certain types of crime over the last few years. This has concerned particularly, but not exclusively, organised crime and drug-related crime.

There are, to my mind, two additional alarming tendencies.

One is the periodic outburst of civic unrest for no obvious motive, causing disruption and damage to the city. I have seen this in my own case in Enschede where peaceful car racing suddenly became transformed into a week-long outburst of car theft and street violence. It happens elsewhere, whether it be the bikers in Denmark, road rage in the UK, gratuitous attacks on minority, ethnic groups, senseless acts of vandalism at the edge of political demonstrations, football hooliganism, etc.

Another particularly alarming tendency, as a consequence of international crime and the trade in drugs, is increased juvenile delinquency. Young people are particularly vulnerable to the temptation of drugs; drug abuse is a major factor promoting marginalisation from society. Many countries have noticed an increase in juvenile lawlessness, and it appears that there is no difference between the most developed and less developed nations alike. An especially disturbing trend is the apparently earlier onset of delinquency; ages 13 and 14 are increasingly those when habitual drug use and criminal offences begin. Factors in addition to drug abuse which contribute to delinquency include the breakup of traditional family structures: tumultuous social change or civil strife; instability brought on by migration from the countryside to the city; and high rates of unemployment among teenagers.

7. Legal reform

Review and monitoring of legal and penal procedures in most member countries is regularly conducted with a view to a more adapted reflection of contemporary patterns of crime and antisocial behaviour.

It remains true, however, that public confidence in the legal system remains low:- because of lengthy and sometimes costly procedures and the fact that the criminal justice system is not always accepted as a sufficient deterrent.

The result is that many members of the public feel inadequately protected and vulnerable.


8. Causes of crime

Why crime occurs, why some people commit crimes and others do not are questions which have preoccupied criminologists for generations. Some seek answers by the search for factors on the individual level of offenders or victims. Other observers believe that more collective factors such as cultural and socio-economic backgrounds explain the crime rate.

Policy-makers do not necessarily need to know all the exact backgrounds to crime. Rather, they must be aware of the relationship that crime has with other parts of social life. This knowledge is necessary in order to influence successfully the causes of crime.

For the first part of the following section I am particularly indebted to Professor Bottoms, Wolfson Professor of Criminology, Cambridge University, who spoke and presented a paper on this subject at the Erfurt Conference. With his permission I have quoted freely from his report for this section.


One of the most accepted theories is that opportunity creates crime. The opportunity-theory believes that potential offenders are looking for the best opportunities to commit their crimes, ie., potential victims and situations can create circumstances that give offenders a good chance for escaping undetected and unscathed.

The theory is often used to develop situational prevention strategies and victim orientated `defence'-programmes, in order to make situations and potential victims less vulnerable. For example, in designing cities, neighbourhoods and houses, crime prevention can be of great importance. The target is to `secure by design' a physical environment that give less opportunities to offenders (see also para. 21 below).

Social control

A second theory to explain the occurrence of crime is found in social control. Social control refers to the capacity of a society to bequeath social values from people to people and from generation to generation.

Social control requires relations. These relations are necessary conditions for people to interact on the values. These communications can take place at an individual level (from one to another) as well as at a more collective scale. Institutions like families, schools, churches, work, political parties, etc., play a very important role in collective social control. In an era of individualisation it is often forgotten that these actors are important strengthening powers of society.

In recent years, it seems the role of intermediary organisations has declined. The breakdown of families, playing truant at school, the decreasing membership of parties, etc., are trends that indicate the diminishing importance of traditional intermediate organisations in social control.

Other systems have become more important as points of attachment for young people. The so-called `environments of trust' have changed from localised informal trust to abstract systems. New `actors' have taken over the role of traditional `controllers'.

It is the task of local and regional authorities to identify all possible actors that can help to establish informal social control. The new institutions are often more dynamic, abstract, less formal and stand sometimes apart from the conventional order. It is a challenge to involve those actors in action programmes for crime prevention.


A third theory that lightens on the background of crime focuses on the position of the offenders. Social deprivation, bad housing, polluted neighbourhoods, low expectations for education, work and income are ideal circumstances for the growth of crime. Offenders who live under such disadvantaged conditions, feel that they stand apart from society, have less to expect and less to lose from the civic society.

This asks for active programs from both local and national authorities in order to strengthen the bonds in society. People must have prospect in good houses, schools, jobs, etc. People, specially youngsters, must also know that the authorities are concerned with the local community as a whole.

A poor or monotonous physical environment and inadequate housing

It is doubtless true that an insalubrious, poor, banal, or forbidding physical environment can have an effect on morale and behaviour, quite apart from its role in increasing the opportunity for crime to occur.

In the same way, inadequate housing can play a role. If there is no decent home or flat where, particularly young people can find some solace or pride, clearly the risks of anti-social behaviour, through a search for alternatives elsewhere, are increased.

(See also paragraph 21 below.)

Aspirations to high levels of material wealth

All around young people are the manifestations of success and material wealth, whether they be cars, stereo sets, video camcorders, cameras, PCs, expensive fashion clothes, etc. There is much publicity about such objects as being the normal appendices of normal life. Whilst it is assumed that everyone must have all this, and immediately, it is not always possible for all sectors of society to acquire legally such an array of gadgets - hence, the incentive for crime.

TV violence

This is a controversial question in which the sums of money involved are considerable but where public scrutiny is not always successful. It is not the purpose of this report to get involved in the pros and cons of particular types of TV programme, but the role models of settling differences by guns and appalling acts of almost clinical violence portrayed on some TV stations, must certainly have an impact on the psyche and outlook of particularly younger viewers.

Patterns of male virility

In a climate of uncertainty about future prospects and inclusion in a spiral of multiple deprivation, young males are often tempted to feel that the only visible and best way of asserting their male dignity is through recourse to gang primacy, gun or knife-toting, etc. This is clearly evident in areas of major civil strife such as the Lebanon, Bosnia and Northern Ireland. It may well have a well relevance to the notorious housing estates surrounding some of our big cities.

A mixture of theories

It is not possible to deduce once single explaining factor behind crime in society. There is always a number of causes that are responsible for the scope and nature of crime. This mixture of causes varies from situation to situation, from victim to victim and from offender to offender. Successful actions manipulating the causes of crime cannot be put in a blue-print for crime prevention. Instead, at the local level measures must be taken, that fit in the local situation and are suitable for local victims and offenders.

This mixture and variety of causes makes clear that effective crime policy needs to be developed in all sectors. Urban planning, housing, social policy, employment, health policy, education, welfare, leisure infrastructure etc. can contribute to safety in a direct or indirect way.

9. Effects of recent political change

Major changes in the political, economic and social structure of Europe, particularly as a result of democratic transition in Central and Eastern Europe and the post-Communist legacy of civil tension in some parts of Europe, have left and continue to leave their mark on the extent and type of crime.

Greater mobility of people, more sophisticated information technology and radical social changes are factors in a change in the type of crime in recent years, for example, a higher incidence of drug offences; extremist movements and racial attacks on vulnerable minorities; an extension of organised crime; clandestine immigration; economic fraud; diverting of raw materials; an extension of covert arms dealing and trade in the legacy of nuclear arms stocks.

It is also arguable that armed conflict and civil strife in the Balkans has set the tone for a generation of young people in the area concerned, not only in terms of settling differences by the gun rather than by the negotiating table, but in generating an ethos of violence and ready availability of weapons.

The threat from political and religious fundamentalism has been much discussed. Such tendencies constitute a major challenge for public administration at all levels and there would be justification for the Chamber of Local Authorities to give some attention to this matter in the near future.


10/11. Corruption in public life

Unfortunately, there have been many recent cases in Europe of corruption or malpractice in political and/or official life, ie., the abuse of political or official power or responsibilities for private gain or private interests.

Such corruption has always existed and is an inevitable part of the exercise of power. Nonetheless, its extent is conditioned by administrative political traditions and ethos in different countries and by the level of checks and controls.

Corruption has had more publicity recently through the highly publicised activities of judicial authorities in a number of countries.

The spread of official acceptance of corruption can be startling when an official is accused of the abuse of responsibilities, eg., in the award of contracts, small favours here and there, and replies to the effect "What's wrong? Everyone does it".

Public acceptance of such phenomena is low. Allegations of corruption or "sleaze" are factors in the loss of political power.

Worse, existence of corruption delays and distorts public administration, reduces the help which the public can reasonably expect from an administration in their daily dealings and fosters a climate of crime in the absence of objectively defined and applied controls.

12. Complicated local administration

If there are multiple steps in a decision-making process and if access to such a process by the public is complicated, or repellent, not only is this harmful in terms of the efficiency of local management and local administration, but it also increases the possibility of corruption.

There is surely a case for increasing the direct answerability of public officials for their acts and also a case for simplifying administrative procedures at a local, or indeed, any level, in the interests of efficiency and transparency.


13. Police difficulties

The rapidity and extent of political change, particularly in relation to borders, has not always been accompanied by corresponding administrative change. For example, police still have difficulty in pursuing criminals across frontiers. There are procedures but by the time these have been put into operation, the offenders have disappeared from view.

Whilst it is beneficial for Europe in the longer term to have fewer border controls, relaxation of controls must be accompanied by increased mobility for police forces to fulfil their tasks of detection and arrest.

14/15. Impact of the Schengen Agreement

While the Schengen Treaty has strengthened the sense of security of European countries' citizens, it has imposed, at the same time, the division of Europe into `Schengen countries' and `non-Schengen countries'; provoking tension at border crossings.

At the `Schengen border' tensions are intensified by crimes such as: illegal border crossing, smuggling of drug and forged documents, illegal trade and smuggling of cars, cigarettes, alcohol, electrical and electronic devices, weapons and ammunition.

Such crimes are committed by citizens of different nationalities, yet the cost of combatting and preventing them are borne by national authorities on both sides of the Schengen border and local and regional authorities situated in the transfrontier area.


16/17. The wider impact of crime

The direct and indirect effects of crime can be enormous:- for individual victims of crime, for people in general and for cities as a whole. People who have become victims of crime, have more or less material or immaterial losses. On top of that, their feeling of safety and integrity is hurt: victims, especially in the case of repeated victimisation, experience their vulnerability to crime. Offenders who commit `simple' offenses may broaden their territory to more victims and to more severe crime.

Crime also shocks the community as a whole. When someone in town or in the neighbourhood becomes a victim, the whole community can notice a vulnerability. One of the consequences can be that people withdraw from public life and start to defend their own possessions and territories, leading to abandoned streets and cities, and giving way to new crime. The result may be a city with `defended islands' and desolate public space.

Cities are victims of crime too. The damage of pollution and vandalism is clear. Victims of crime ask for extra services from the municipalities. Inhabitants who feel unsafe move out from the cities to small towns, suburban areas and to the country-side, where it is thought to be safer. The impact on the potential of cities can be enormous: people with high incomes leave, tourists stay away, vacancy in neighbourhoods rises, etc. In short, public life changes.

A recent UN publication on "Crime prevention, seeking security and justice for all" refer also to the indirect costs of crime borne by members of society who are not usually perceived as victims.

"These costs are difficult to quantify in monetary terms, but very real. There is, for example, the emotional pain suffered by relatives and friends of crime victims. Witnesses have to spend hours, days or even months involved in police investigations and in court proceedings. Consumers have to pay higher prices as a result of crime directed at businesses. Property owners pay higher insurance premiums for the risks of theft, arson and other crimes. Enterprises unable to afford increased premiums are driven out of business or left vulnerable to catastrophic financial loss, and business and citizens incur costs of security systems. Tax evasion brings on higher taxation of honest citizens and shortchanges the social goals of towns and nations.

Crime discourages investment - in low-income urban neighbourhoods of industrialised countries as well as in developing countries and countries in transition plagued by crime syndicates. It diverts capital from productive opportunities and into speculative, short-term enterprises and luxury spending, with spin-off effects that include corruption of public officials, extortion of legitimate businesses and ruined lives.

The ability of crime to distort economic activity is most dramatically apparent in the working of giant transnational syndicates. Taking advantage of the globalisation and liberalisation of trade and finances in the 1990s, these groups now constitute a major force in the world economy, able to affect the destinies of countries at critical stages in their economic development."

18. The threat to democracy

The different facets of crime to which reference is made in the above chapters - all have an effect on society as a whole.

They can bring about a loss of confidence by the public in the political and judicial process and can impair democracy.

Organisations such as the Council of Europe are in a position to help combat such tendencies - through the maintenance and insistence of codes of practice and standards, and as a model for political probity. It is important that the CLRAE continues to given attention to the subject of crime as part of its maintenance of local government values and procedures.


19. The European Urban Charter

The European Urban Charter was adopted by the CLRAE in 1992. It brought together the results of the CLRAE's work on urban questions over the ten previous years into a series of guidelines and proposals for local authorities in dealing with different aspects of urban development.

The Charter was preceded by a 20 point European Declaration of Urban Rights appearing in an appendix to this report.

The following are the policy proposals concerning crime prevention contained in the Charter.

"a. A coherent security and crime prevention policy must be based on prevention, law enforcement and mutual support.

b. A local urban security policy must be based on up-to-date comprehensive statistics and information.

c. Crime prevention involves all members of the community.

d. An effective urban security policy depends upon close co-operation between the police and the local community.

e. A local anti-drug policy must be defined and applied.

f. Programmes for preventing relapse and developing alternatives to incarceration are essential.

g. Support for victims is a key component of any local security police.

h. Crime prevention must be recognised as a priority and thus command increased financial resources."

The Charter has been widely distributed and translated. In 1998, the CLRAE will organise a Hearing for all towns which have publicly adopted the principles of the Charter.

20. Crime prevention and economic development

Local authorities know full well that high levels of crime deter investment, particularly from the private sector. The existence of crime is a major factor in personal choices about location of homes and about the provision of facilities which risk being damaged, vandalised or underused as a consequence.

Conversely, a safe and liveable city is potentially a prosperous city, acting as a catalyst for public and private investment and involvement.

Local authorities should bear this interrelationship in mind in the formulation of their policies.

21. Urban environment and crime

High quality design and urban planning cannot, themselves, eradicate crime but they can certainly reduce the tendency to commit crime.

At this point, I would like to quote from the Final Declaration of the CLRAE Conference held in Plovdiv in September 1995 on "European Towns at the Dawn of the 21st Century":-

"Despite the well-known adverse effects on human behaviour of a brutal or monotonous urban environment, as indicated by terms such as "defensible space" and "concrete jungle", architects and planners have not always shown a great deal of interest in planning the physical surroundings of their public, in the human consequences of their action.

Nonetheless, it is clear that the collective memory of town dwellers is seriously impaired by the destruction or radical transformation of familiar surroundings, or badly-conceived slum clearance programmes which mean loss of contact with friends and family, and loss of a wider social support. Demolition has consequences reaching beyond destruction of a building and can reduce the capacity of people to cope with illness and disability, through depriving them of familiar structures. Its loss is not always made good by new construction or by some large-scale housing schemes, often of doubtful architectural and technical quality.

In some countries, there are problems not just in inner city areas, but also in some suburban or dormitory areas where social isolation can develop as a result of distance from employment, the submerging of traditions and landmarks and a poor supply of essential services and transport."

Some of the inner city riots in the UK in the early 70's, particularly Brixton, Tottenham and Toxteth, were provoked, at least in part, by a poor, banal and monotonous environment. It is also significant that the slum clearance programme from the Glasgow Gorbals, made famous in the book "No Mean City" which was designed to eradicate insalubrious living conditions in the slum areas of central Glasgow, had virtually the effect of increasing crime in the vast soulless housing estates built on the edge of the city to rehouse residents, without facilities, shops, etc.

There are other such examples in Europe.

22. Local problems require local solutions

Central government has a major responsibility in defining national legislation and ensuring finance - in this as in any other domaine of public administration. Inevitably, also, international collaboration on crime prevention is a major responsibility for national governments.

However, it is at the local level where the impact of crime is most acutely felt and where local authorities have at least a partnership role with central government in developing appropriate policies, particularly for prevention of crime, if not repression.

There are a number of reasons why the role of local (and regional) authorities is of great importance.

First, citizens demand - and have the right to - appropriate policies and actions from the authorities that they hold most responsible for the immediate vicinity in which they live and work: the local government and its agencies. Local crime problems require local solutions, and it is the local authority who knows and feels, more than others, the causes and impact of the problem of crime and urban insecurity.

Furthermore, local authorities - as managers of the social and physical environment- have influence on many policy-areas, and they can and must use this influence. Crime prevention should be included as a consequence in other aspects of the responsibilities of local authorities - not only in respect of public-order and the police, but also on urban planning, housing, public transport, education, family welfare, social policy and sporting and leisure infrastructure.

23. Strengthening of local government

The raison d'être of the CLRAE is the establishment and reinforcement of local democracy. A CLRAE Resolution on crime prevention must, therefore, inevitably include a call for the strengthening of local government responsibilities by appropriate legislation; an acceptance by national government of a partnership with local government and, above all, the provision of adequate financial resources for local government to enable them to accept their responsibilities.

Of particular concern is the situation in some Central and Eastern European countries where the responsibilities transferred to local government have not been matched by proportional finance and where the development, for example, of local crime prevention councils and local police is still limited.


This part of the Resolution enumerates a number of policy proposals for the attention of local and regional authorities in Europe. Some are already common practice and inevitably the proposals cannot be elaborated in any detail. It is hoped that such a detailed analysis will be made in the form of a manual or guide for local authorities to be produced by the Working Group after the 1997 Session.


25. Crime prevention - a key local policy

A successful crime policy depends on two main objectives:-

a. that it is given a high place in the allocation of resources;
b. that it is conducted in a coordinated manner with all possible partners.

If local and regional authorities are to give crime prevention the support it merits and conduct a coherent policy, they must have knowledge of the scope, trends, sources and causes of crime.

Crime prevention should be a mixture of measures aiming at victims, possible victims, situations as well as offenders, and should be aimed at actual crime and insecurity as well as fear of crime and feelings of insecurity.

It is also important that crime prevention and the notion of a safe and secure city be built into other sectoral policies of local government.

26. A joint responsibility

An integrated approach towards crime and insecurity is essential. Local authorities, politicians, police and justice structures, private and voluntary sectors, media and universities should collaborate in joint crime prevention action plans. Multisectoral bodies at a local level should be developed.

Within the different branches of local administration itself, there should be coordination on problems of crime and insecurity.

27. Collaboration between national and local authorities

The joint approach formulated under item 26 above should be accompanied by active partnership between national and local government policies. The essential role of national government is to stimulate up-to-date practice and make available technological advance; ensure that municipalities have sufficient means at their disposal; that the national state organisations concerned with crime cooperate together and that the legislation exists to strengthen local action.

Local authority policies should be, in combination with national policy, a balanced mixture containing elements of solidarity, prevention, dissuasion and repression. On the local level, the emphasis lies on prevention and solidarity.

28. Collaboration with the police

Partnership is also essential between local authorities and the police, particularly in relation to decisions about police zoning and timing of local beats and mobile patrols and in advising citizens on reduction of opportunities for crime and theft; and in terms of deciding restrictions relating to premises in urban areas with high levels of crime.

Equally, local and police authorities should cooperate in the promotion of crime awareness among young people and in schools.

The Working Group will organise a future Seminar in the UK to explore these interrelationships between local and police authorities in greater detail.

29. Collaboration with judicial authorities

Where appropriate, local authorities could undertake joint discussions with judicial authorities on prosecution policy and collaborate with them in developing alternatives to incarceration, e.g. community service. Local authorities should also encourage or develop themselves victim aid and support programmes.

30. Encouragement of situational prevention

By situational prevention is meant the building of mechanisms and devices into cars, clothing, and other consumer goods in order to discourage crime or reinforce possibilities of detection, eg., steering locks in cars, anti-burglary devices in flats, etc.

Criminologists and local authorities jointly can provide advice to the manufacturing industry on such measures.

31. Improvement of transborder cooperation

It is important that local authorities in border areas have the structures, capacity and common procedures for crime control and prevention in order to deal with the situation and problems discussed in paragraphs 13, 14 and 15 above.

Furthermore, it is essential that obstacles in the way of such collaboration are reduced or removed (see also paragraph 10 of Recommendation CPL (4) 5).


32/33. Public participation

As with any other aspect of local government policy, public participation and involvement should be an integral part in its functioning. No policy is likely to be successful unless it has public knowledge and commitment.

Of importance is the encouragement to members of the public to become more aware of crime prevention in their everyday life; in the way they live; in their observation of the daily life in their neighbourhood; and, indeed, the encouragement of an attitude which does not leave everything to the public authority but involves taking their own measures to protect their interests, in collaboration with public authorities.

Also important, is the development by local authorities of publicity campaigns concerning crime prevention, particularly on techniques which have been successfully applied elsewhere - as part of an overall programme of information, communication and public relations.


34. Strengthening police forces

In some cases, police forces are far less well equipped than the criminals they are supposed to be tracking down in terms of technical equipment, means of communication, etc. In some countries, particularly in the new democracies, there is a strong argument for extending examples of a well-equipped municipal police, reducing the need for cumbersome state apparatus or private security forces.

It is essential that police forces have adequate means and resources at their disposal and that as many minor security questions, eg., traffic control be the responsibility of different units, such as the Stadswacht in the Netherlands, leaving the police freer to concentrate on the more major threats to civil society.

35. Independent security forces

There has been a proliferation of independent and private security forces in some countries.

This phenomenon is particularly the case where the regular state or municipal police forces are seen as not being able to guarantee fully the protection of all citizens and a range of particular interests, mainly in the business community.

There is nothing inherently wrong in the use of private security forces, but it is essential that they be under democratic and legal control, answerable for their actions to the civil authorities and with clearly defined limits to their sphere and scope of action.


36/41. The social environment and physical environment and transport

The social and physical environment are clearly factors in determining human behaviour. Crime prevention policies must therefore take this into consideration and include, for example:-

a. Strengthening informal social control through appropriate policies for a mix of residential and functional functions, adequate shopping facilities in housing areas, juxtaposition of school and residential homes.

b. Avoid creating in one place a permanent group of disadvantaged people and deprived sectors of society, where people feel they have nothing to lose - particularly through adjustments to housing policy.

c. Give people a greater say in the management of their homes and flats, for example, through tenants' and residents' associations.

d. Create employment opportunities for people with low educational attainment and stimulate economic activities in deprived areas.

e. In urban areas of multiple deprivation - characterised by high levels of unemployment, poverty, ethnic problems, poor environmental and housing conditions, high levels of crime and delinquency - adjust urban policy so that it is based on neighbourhood and grassroots approach which harnesses and realises community potential and is conducted in a multidisciplinary and integrated manner.

Some of these objectives may be achieved by improvements to the quality of the physical environment, for example, local authorities should recognise that good urban design, well-designed space, adjustments to the built environment on a human scale, the preservation of local architectural styles and building traditions, the development of green and open areas, the improvement of lighting, the removal of graffiti and litter, all can play an important role in maintaining citizens' well-being. An acceptable townscape is one in which people relate to their cultural roots, where a pleasant urban environment has been created consisting of attractive blends of groups of buildings, trees, roads, spaces, people and traffic, where squares are cheerful and healthy.

Such an environment helps to reduce feelings of insecurity and reduces the opportunities for crime to occur.

It is equally important to ensure that police officers are specially trained on the relationship between crime and the built environment, and promote collaboration between the police and professional urban planners and architects.

On transport questions, local authorities should understand that a major disruptive force can be a road system which has imposed excessive road developments on communities at a high social cost, neglecting the requirements of pedestrians and preventing a civilised balance between all users of roads and streets. The result is often a disruption and endangering of life, the spreading of confusion and damage, the production of noise and visual pollution for a community - all of which, adds up to a risky environment and one prone to developing antisocial behaviour.

It is thus important to devise and conduct strategies which provide safe transport and safe routes to and from key transport venues; which help to reduce public concern about crime and fear of crime associated with travelling on bus, cab, underground and rail or by walking, cycling and driving.

Equally, it is important to design vehicles and stations in a way travellers feel safe and offenders are discouraged to commit crime, vandalism and graffiti.


42. Drug abuse

Drug related crime has reached alarming proportions among younger people, prepared to commit offences for the sake of feeding their habit.

It is not the purpose of this report to enter the debate about free prescription of softer drugs to remove the profit aspect and the criminal dimension, nor the wider questions of organised crime, production and money laundering.

Local government focus should be particularly on prevention and the development of a drug abuse programme which, in partnership with health and social services, includes information programmes on drug abuse, particularly for young people inside and outside school; provides alternative sporting, recreational and leisure facilities and mobilises the local community as a whole in order to bring publicity to the problem and help reduce drug demand.

43. Education and youth programmes

The inclusion of crime prevention and the avoidance of drug abuse should be a component of educational curricula in secondary schools. Such programmes should highlight the dangers and risks and include programmes of support for young people to enable them to adjust to changing social circumstances and give them a code of civic values.

Immediate and adequate attention should be paid to children and young people who wish to leave school too early or show signs of `dropping-out'.

Local communities should also provide adequate sporting and recreational activities, particularly in deprived areas for younger people.


44. The next Conference

The Working Group on Crime and Urban Insecurity has accepted the invitation extended by the Russian delegate to the Working Group (and endorsed by the Russian Deputy Minister of Nationalities and Minorities, at the Erfurt Conference) that the next local authority Crime Prevention Conference be held in Russia in the course of the next two to three years.

The likely theme would be relationships between crime and economic change.

45. Future Seminars

Proposals have been made for future small scale seminars with a limited number of participants and on clearly focused themes.

The Mayor of Szczecin, Mr Sochanski, and member of the Group, has proposed, with the support of the Polish delegation to the Chamber, that a Seminar be organised in Szczecin in 1998 on the relationship between crime and the urban environment.

The police authorities of Northumbria represented at Erfurt by the Chief Constable and supported by the relevant political authorities (including a member of the UK delegation to the CLRAE) wish to organise a Seminar on local authority/police relations.

Finally, the Working Group, would wish to consider the informal proposal by the President of the Working Group (the present Rapporteur) for a Seminar to be held in the Netherlands on transfrontier crime prevention and control.

46. A manual on good practice

The Working Group has agreed that a priority item should be the preparation of a manual or guide on examples of good practice of crime prevention in European cities. This should be prepared by the time of next Conference in Russia and, hopefully, by the summer of 1998 - possibly with the help of an outside consultant(s).

47. A Year or Campaign

The Council of Europe has a tradition of organising special Years or Campaigns on questions of contemporary significance. Subjects have included North/South interdependence and solidarity, combatting racism, intolerance and xenophobia, music, architectural heritage, urban renaissance, etc.

Certainly the public reaction to such Campaigns is often mitigated, given their proliferation in recent years. If a new Campaign were to be proposed, this should be seen in relation to other proposals circulating in the European Union and care should be taken to ensure that the subject is really a key question.

Crime is certainly high on the political agenda. The idea of a Campaign, therefore, is worth pursuing to see if it would meet with a favourable reaction but it could not be an operation mounted alone or even primarily by the CLRAE, given its others tasks.

48. Partnerships and Networks

Local experiences with programmes in the field of crime-prevention can help other cities to explore effective and efficient actions to combat crime. What has been tried successfully somewhere and examples of best practice may well be effective elsewhere.

There is a good network for exchange of information and experience established by the European Forum for Urban Security and it may well be that the CLRAE need not, itself, embark upon establishing a new network, but contribute through its contacts to the enlargement and political support of such existing programmes

In addition or alternatively, the Chamber Working Group on Twinnings and Partnership, currently awaiting a decision by the Committee of Regions for the designation of a future Year or Campaign on Partnership, could well be advised to devote some attention to establishment of partnerships on a particular subject. Why not crime prevention?

49. Citizens' Rights and Duties

The CLRAE has created a Working Group on this subject following the Topical Issues report presented to the Chamber of Local Authorities in 1995 (Rapporteur: Mr Haggipavlu). The Group has been constituted but so far has not made any far reaching proposals or produced any major text.

It is the wish of the Working Group on Crime and Urban Insecurity that the Citizens' Rights and Duties Working Group, if it produces a text or Charter on such questions, should certainly include the question of crime prevention and related citizen behaviour as an objective.

50. Social stability

The new Working Group on "Policies for the Town" has already suggested that social stability and cohesion in towns should be an element in its future work programme.

The Working Group on Crime and Urban Insecurity wholeheartedly supports this proposal and would offer its help in any appropriate manner.

51. Simplification of local administrative procedures

The CLRAE has not yet undertaken any major study or activity concerned with the simplification of local administrative procedures, which in many countries are still cumbersome and confusing to the average citizen.

Worse, a complicated decision-making process defies visibility, reduces answerability and can encourage temptation for corruption

The CLRAE could make a useful contribution to this question through identification of experiments that have been made in local administration, to this effect, in member countries with a view to a wider distribution.

52. Political integrity

Again, the CLRAE is intending to start work on this subject.

The Working Group would wish that a Code of Political Practice for local government, be prepared by the new Group looking, for example, at multiple mandates, blur between commercial, private interests and political interests; financing of political parties, etc.

53. The Pompidou Group

The principal body in the Council of Europe for dealing with drug-abuse questions is the unit known as the Pompidou Group, seeking to promote international cooperation on dealing with drug abuse, production, money laundering, etc.

The CLRAE has always had close contact with this Group and should keep open, though its Working Group on Crime and Urban Insecurity, the possibilities of future cooperation on specific joint projects.

Recommendation CPL (4) 5

The CLRAE Working Group on Crime and Urban Insecurity adopted the Recommendation CPL (4) 5 at its meeting in Brussels on 25 March.

The Recommendation includes a number of proposals for the Committee of Ministers and to some other international governmental and non-governmental organisations with a crime prevention component in their programmes.

1. Resolution CPL (4) 5

Reference is made to this Resolution in that it contains an analysis of some of the causes of crime, its scope and extent and makes a series of proposals addressed to local and regional authorities in Europe.

2. The Erfurt Conference

Information about this is provided in the explanatory notes to the Resolution CPL (4) 5.

3. International governmental and non-governmental organisations

There are a number of such organisations in Europe which are concerned with crime control and prevention, eg., the UN in Vienna, the European Union, the Committee of Regions, Europol, the European Forum for Urban Security.


4. The Second Summit

After the Vienna Summit in 1993, the Council of Europe will hold a second Summit for Heads of State of member countries, to be held in Strasbourg in October, 1997.

Proposed by the Parliamentary Assembly and accepted by the Committee of Ministers, this Summit, in all probability, will be structured around the notion of democratic stability in Europe.

Such a notion must clearly include crime control and prevention as a major element.

It is desirable, not only that the CLRAE be represented at the Second Summit, but that its President might contribute to a debate on this subject.

5. The New Initiatives Programme of the Secretary General

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe has proposed and received funding for what is called the programme of "New Initiatives" for Central and Eastern European countries, particularly for Russia and the Ukraine.

One aspect will concern crime control and crime prevention. It will be based on a comparison of a number of case studies in a range of Central and Eastern European cities, some of which have representatives in the CLRAE delegations.

It would therefore be desirable that the CLRAE be associated with this programme, bringing to bear its expertise and range of contacts.

6. Central and local government partnership

Given the desirable partnership between national and local authorities in dealing with crime prevention, the Committee of Ministers is asked to transmit to appropriate national authorities within member countries, the CLRAE Resolution CPL (4) 5 as background to the range of local authority policies which could be conducted, with a view to the encouragement of national authorities to accept and respect this specific role of local authorities.

National authorities are asked furthermore to ensure that appropriate legislation and financial capacity is available to local authorities to enable them to meet their responsibilities.

7. Corruption

The CLRAE, like any other political representative body, is concerned about the extent of corruption in public life. It will, itself, embark upon the preparation of a code of practice in respect of local and regional government, but asks also member countries which have not yet done so, to prepare and adopt legislation aimed at reducing the possibilities of corruption in public life.

8. Interstate cooperation on crime prevention

There are a number of international Treaties and/or Conventions, including those prepared by the Council of Europe itself, which are designed to combat crime.

Such Conventions also include matters such as the lifting of bank secrecy, in the context of combatting organised crime. Reference was made, for example, to this question at the Erfurt Conference.

The CLRAE, in this proposal, asks that member countries, which have not yet done so, sign and ratify these Treaties and Conventions.

9. The Steering Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC)

The CDPC over the years has developed an intensive programme of intergovernmental cooperation on crime questions.

For the moment however the CDPC has not yet undertaken activities as such on policies for reducing urban insecurity - a gap which, in this proposal, the CLRAE asks to be filled.

10. Facilitating local and regional transfrontier cooperation on crime prevention and control

Local and regional authorities in transfrontier areas, in some countries, still have national obstacles to an effective cooperation - on crime prevention and control - as, indeed, on other questions.

In recent years, the CLRAE has prepared a Protocol to the Outline Convention on Transfrontier Cooperation between territorial authorities, which is designed to help remove some impediments.

The Committee of Ministers is asked in this proposal to encourage member states who have not yet done so to sign and ratify the additional Protocol and, indeed, other Conventions which would facilitate local and regional cooperation in border areas.

11. The Schengen agreement

In its Resolution CPL (4) 5, the CLRAE refers to the intensifying of a certain type of crime, particularly in the frontier regions between the Schengen and non-Schengen parts of Europe.

To some extent, the development of an area in Europe which gives greater mobility and fewer controls, inevitably will bring in its train a number of negative effects.

The Committee of Ministers, in this proposal, is asked to explore ways and means of reducing such effects without hindering the advantages procured by the Schengen agreement.

12/13. The Conference of European Ministers of Justice

The Session of this Conference in Malta in 1994 and the next Session in Prague in 1997, have dealt, and will deal, with subjects of high relevance to the CLRAE's concern on crime prevention, ie., on combatting corruption and the links between corruption and organised crime.

The CLRAE asks to be fully associated with the follow-up to the Sessions of the Ministerial Conference.

14. The Pompidou Group

In this proposal, the CLRAE suggests a continuing cooperation with the Pompidou Group on matters of common concern.

15-19. Proposals to other governmental and non-governmental organisations

In these proposals, the CLRAE is formulating a number of suggestions to individual organisations to:-

- implement crime prevention proposals as soon as possible, emanating from their own official structures (the United Nations);

- bear in mind the current Resolution and Erfurt Conference in the development of respective work programmes (the Committee of Regions);

- collaborate with the CLRAE on the coordination of pilot projects (the European Forum for Urban Security);

- keep the CLRAE informed of changing trends and scope of crime (the International Crime Prevention Council);

- assist local authorities with statistics and information relating to crime prevention and control (Europol).


The European Declaration of Urban Rights1

Considering that the exercise of the following rights should be based upon solidarity and responsible citizenship implying an equal acceptance of duties, citizens of European towns have a right to:

1. Security: to a secure and safe town, free, as far as possible, from crime, delinquency and aggression;

2. An unpolluted and healthy environment: to an environment free from air, noise, water and ground pollution and protective of nature and natural resources;

3. Employment: to adequate employment possibilities; to a share in economic development and the achievement thereby of personal financial autonomy;

4. Housing: to an adequate supply and choice of affordable, salubrious housing, guaranteeing privacy and tranquillity;

5. Mobility: to unhampered mobility and freedom to travel; to a harmonious balance between all street users - public transport, the private car, the pedestrian and cyclists;

6. Health: to an environment and a range of facilities conducive to physical and psychological health;

7. Sport and leisure: to access for all persons, irrespective of age, ability or income, to a wide range of sport and leisure facilities;

8. Culture: to access to and participation in a wide range of cultural and creative activities and pursuits;

9. Multicultural integration: where communities of different cultural ethnic and religious backgrounds co-exist peaceably;

10. Good quality architecture and physical surrounding: to an agreeable, stimulating physical form achieved through contemporary architecture of high quality and retention and sensitive restoration of the historic built heritage;

11. Harmonisation of functions: where living, working, travelling and the pursuit of social activities are as closely interrelated as possible;

12. Participation: in pluralistic democratic structures and in urban management characterised by co-operation between all the various partners, the principle of subsidiarity, information and freedom from over-regulation;

13. Economic development: where the local authority, in a determined and enlightened manner, assumes responsibility for creating, directly or indirectly, economic growth;

14. Sustained development: where local authorities attempt to achieve reconciliation of economic development and environmental protection;

15. Services and goods: to a wide range of accessible services and goods, of adequate quality, provided by the local authority, the private sector or by partnerships between both;

16. Natural wealth and resources: to the management and husbanding of local resources and assets by a local authority in a rational, careful, efficient and equitable manner for the benefit of all citizens;

17. Personal fulfilment: to urban conditions conducive to the achievement of personal well-being and individual social, cultural, moral and spiritual development;

18. Inter-municipal collaboration: in which citizens are free and encouraged to participate directly in the international relations of their community;

19. Financial mechanisms and structures: enabling local authorities to find the financial resources necessary for the exercise of the rights as defined in this Declaration;

20. Equality : where local authorities ensure that the above rights apply to all citizens, irrespective of sex, age, origin, belief, social, economic or political position, physical or psychological handicap.

1 This Declaration arises from the European Urban Charter, adopted by the Council of Europe's Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) on 18 March 1992, a Session held during the annual Plenary Session of the CLRAE (17-19 March 1992, Strasbourg)