Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency: relevant international regulations and an example of a national regulation – Factsheet #2

This factsheet is based on research conducted for the IcARUS report “Legal adjustment report of IcARUS to the relevant international and national regulations”.

Rethinking Crime Prevention: IcARUS at Efus’ Security, Democracy, and Cities Conference in Nice

The entire IcARUS consortium participated in the Security, Democracy and Cities (SDC) Conference organised in Nice (France) on 20-22 October by the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus), which brought together some 650 elected officials and urban security stakeholders from 27 countries to discuss urban security issues, present innovative solutions and showcase urban security projects and initiatives.

It was an opportunity for the project’s partners to meet on-site for the first time and continue their collective reflection on building the next steps of the project. The conference was also an opportunity to disseminate the project’s activities and innovative approach to the wider public, which was welcomed with great interest. The IcARUS partners also contributed to some of the conference’s various workshops and sessions.

With the support of their respective teams, Massimo Fattori (Erasmus University), Maud Ridoux (Make Sense), Genny Dimitrakopoulou (KEMEA), and Efus had the chance to lead an interactive workshop session on Design Thinking: an Experiential Session on an Innovative Approach to Urban Security, which gathered an audience of practitioners. This allowed for the presentation of the Design Thinking approach for urban security and crime prevention – the overarching methodology of the IcARUS project. Practical case studies were discussed and issues were framed together with the audience. The workshop generated a rich discussion on the approach, its feasibility and outcomes, and participants were eager to interact and contribute.

  • The Leeds team attended numerous workshops and panels. Professor Adam Crawford moderated a panel on Foresight strategies to better protect public spaces and promote urban resilience, which gathered as speakers Hans Crab – Head of Unit, Partnerships and Projects at Brussels Prevention Security (BPS); Peter Van de Crommert – EU Projects Coordinator at the Dutch Institute for Technology, Safety & Security (DITSS); Miila Lukkarinen – Specialist, Safety and Preparedness Unit at the City of Helsinki’s Executive Office, and Marc Léoutre – Policy officer at the Counter-Terrorism Unit of the Directorate General Home Affairs (HOME) of the European Commission. The discussion centred around three questions: How can cities be better prepared to anticipate challenges and risks in public spaces? What should be the role of new technologies in protecting public spaces and how can cities make a democratic use of them? How can cities take into account the diversity of users and better adapt to the constant evolution of public spaces?
  • Salzburg University of Applied Sciences participated in the workshop on Tackling polarisation in our cities: tools and practices to foster inclusive and cohesive societies. Professor Markus Pausch presented and discussed recent polarisation processes, actors and de-polarisation strategies on three levels: Structural inequalities need to be reduced; forums for dialogue and participation need to be strengthened; competences for democracy need to be improved.
  • The entire team of the Design Against Crime Solution Centre of the University of Salford participated in the Conference. Professor Caroline Davey gave a speech in the workshop Know your problem to solve your problem: innovating tools and methods to address urban security challengesShe spoke about the importance of problem-framing — undertaking research to properly define a problem before trying to develop a solution.

> The minutes of the Security, Democracy and Cities conference workshops are available on Efus’ website in the corresponding Secutopic sections, as well as, for Efus members, on Efus Network.

The Evolution of Innovative Approaches to Build More Secure and Safer Public Spaces

This presentation will outline and assess a number of trends, tensions and fault-lines that have characterised shifts over time in the design and regulation of safe public spaces across Europe and beyond. We do so to stimulate debate and discussion about the trajectory of learning and the challenges for the future. In doing so, we will draw from the wider Review we are conducting for the IcARUS project.


European cities face significant challenges and major threats, such as terrorism and organised crime, but also incivilities, petty crime and new health risks, which all affect citizens’ feeling of safety. These challenges undermine the vibrancy and security of urban public spaces and threaten the well-being of European urban populations. In the context of fears of immigration, increased hyper-diversity, growing social and economic polarisation, the privatisation of public space and ‘splintering urbanism’ (Graham and Marvin 2001), Stuart Hall’s (1993; 2017) clarion call that how we develop ‘the capacity to live with difference’ is the central question of our time, remains as prescient as ever.

  • Public spaces are places of difference, excitement, spontaneity, play and even unpredictability, where diverse populations come together, co-exist and interact in uncertain encounters (Sennett 1992). This is what Massey (2005: 181) refers to as the ‘throwntogetherness’ of public spaces. They combine co-presence and physical proximity with relative anonymity.
  • Public spaces are contested places infused with different and competing economic and social and organisational interests, where commercial and business imperatives converge with moral claims over appropriate behaviour and conditions of citizenship.
  • Security is but one imperative in public spaces that sometimes collides with other public goods or private pursuits.
  • Use of public space fosters perceptions of safety. Underused and desolate public spaces are fear inducing (Jacobs 1961). Unlike other public goods (where the more others use it the less value it has for the individual), public space does not suffer congestion and crowding in the same way, such that a certain level of use is beneficial to all. Nonetheless, there are tipping points at which public spaces become over-crowded or dominated by certain groups rendering them less welcoming to others (Low 2017).
  • In recent decades, many city authorities have sought to render public spaces safe through various modes of crime and terrorism prevention and order maintenance, but in so doing risk turning them into sterile, sanitised and (over-)securitised fortresses (Koolhaas, et al. 1995; de Cauter 2005).
  • Public spaces are crucial arenas in which encounters with difference are hosted in convivial ways fostering civic norms that bind loosely connected strangers in mutual recognition (Barker, et al. 2019).
  • The challenge is how public spaces can remain liberating and liminal yet safe, welcoming and regulated.

Tendencies, trends and learning across time

We propose that four broad tendencies and four emergent trends are apparent across time:

  1. A tendency to import overly crude versions of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) strategies and ‘defensible space’ ideas that sought to alter the built and physical environment so as to ‘design out’ criminogenic opportunities; often infused with logics of ‘preventive exclusion’, opportunity reduction and overt surveillance as deterrence, and with little regard to aesthetics (Crawford 2009).
  2. A tendency to search for universal solutions under the banner of ‘what works’ which has drawn attention away from the situated and contextualised features of local places – with less attention to ‘what works’, ‘where’ and ‘for whom’? And simultaneously with little regard to which groups of people benefit from particular interventions or design features in a particular place/situation at a specific time?
  3. A tendency to prefer technological solutions – i.e. hardware – to human solutions in regard to addressing security concerns, with less concern for the intersection between social and technological processes.
  4. A tendency to over prioritise security as against other benefits, uses and values of public spaces – social, cultural, environmental, educational and health-related – resulting in the over-securitisation of public spaces. One of the ironies of such quests for security is that in their implementation they may foster perceptions of insecurities by alerting citizens to risks, heightening sensibilities and ‘scattering the world with visible reminders of threats’ (Zedner 2003: 163).
  5. A trend towards a cross-fertilisation and transfer of design and regulatory strategies first implemented in privately-owned public spaces – shopping malls, amusement parks, recreational facilities, etc. – where commercial logics frequently take precedence over overt securitisation (Crawford 2011).
  6. A trend towards a ‘process of naturalisation’, whereby regulation becomes embedded into the physical infrastructure and social routines in ways that is less noticeable, and a dynamic of ‘quaintification’ by which forms of regulation and control that are too harsh to fade into the background ‘are symbolically rehabilitated as both unthreatening and even laudatory’ (Flusty 2001: 660).
  7. A trend away from resort to coercive law enforcement, police, prosecution and punishment, towards compliance strategies that decentre the police and engage informal actors, civil society mediators and forms of persuasion, self-regulation and capacity building (Barker 2017).
  8. A recent trend towards human-centred solutions that are sensitive to local context, the causes of social problems, the nature of social interactions and early intervention.

Case Studies as Illustrations

We will illustrate how some of these trends and tensions have played out in practice and through learning across time with case study examples from two cities involved in the IcARUS project: Rotterdam and Stuttgart.

Example 1: In the city of Rotterdam, the City Marine programme has provided an innovative institutional mechanism for organising and delivering urban security. City Marines (Stadsmarinier) are individuals who are assigned to neighbourhoods determined to be most at risk (on the basis of data from the Safety Index). The task of the Marines, aided by a specific budget and resources, is to address serious issues within the community while also addressing the overall feelings of safety within the neighbourhoods.

  • Youths were causing issues during New Year’s Eve celebrations in the neighbourhood of Bloemhof in Rotterdam including smashing windows, challenging police, and general disruption.  This resulted in negative and unwelcoming feelings within public spaces for this community.  Businesses were concerned about damage to their property and residents were less inclined to use such public spaces. The initial proposal for this issue included investing in more police/security presence and surveillance technology.  This would have ultimately cost the city more and may not have created a feeling of a safe and welcoming community space. 
  • The solution devised by City Marine Marcel van der Ven approached this issue by speaking directly with ringleaders and creating a programme which benefited all within the community, and resulted in a self-regulating community. The City Marine was able to create a unique solution by understanding the neighbourhood, and those that live in it.  He was able to tackle the underlying issues and improve the situation for all involved, instead of simply focusing on the security aspect of the issue.  His versatile position as a city marine also allowed him to operate as a figure of authority, while not representing a police authority – thereby allowing him to establish and maintain a working relationship with those individuals who may be untrusting of police.  This practice also became used in other neighbourhoods in Rotterdam.  

Example 2: Stuttgart experienced multiple public order incidents since 2019, including riots in Stuttgart city centre, the latter being related to pent-up demand to gather and socialise post-lockdowns, and the associated mistrust in the authorities heightened by Covid-19 restrictions.    

  • These incidents are illustrative of contested uses of public spaces. Gatherings of large groups of young people, coupled with excessive noise and littering impacts on others’ enjoyment of these spaces, and can increase feelings of insecurity. The association of these incidents with young people from migrant backgrounds means youths are increasingly being stigmatised by other users of these spaces, polarising society.  
  • The city introduced Respektlotsen (respect guides/pilots) in 2020 with the aim of promoting tolerance by engaging mainly young people in casual, friendly conversation. The idea is to highlight that mutual respect can break down barriers, thus preventing conflict and aggression. Using informal actors who are sensitive to the local context (many of whom are from migrant backgrounds themselves) encourages youths to self-regulate their behaviour (non-coercive compliance), as well as opening avenues of communication with other users of public spaces, fostering integration.  
  • The interconnectedness of different urban security concerns is highlighted in Stuttgart’s approach of creating safer and more enjoyable public spaces facilitating co-existence, demonstrating the importance and value of incorporating human solutions, in addition to design and technology.

Future challenges

Rather than asking how ‘to build (ever) more secure and safer public spaces’ (as the title of this presentation suggests!), we should perhaps be exploring ways to ensure a minimum threshold of security that enables other civic values, social pursuits and public goods to flourish; where regulation is parsimonious and non-intrusive in ways that, wherever possible, foster self-regulation by citizens.

This requires us to see security as a foundational good; one that can also easily reach a tipping point that intrudes on other – more fundamental – social goods. It also necessitates an understanding of the diversity of uses and effects of public spaces as dynamic places; not as abstractions – as always virtuous or ever-malign – but as having meaning through the ways they are used in everyday human interactions and the way they relate to the wider cultural environment and economic forces of the city in which they are located.

Some key questions for the future remain:

  • Restrictions introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted public spaces in new and particular ways, with the imposition of curfews, lockdowns and ‘stay local’ orders. To what extent has the experience of regulating public spaces during Covid-19 compounded or confounded existing trends and tensions? Has Covid-19 accentuated cumulative learning or prompted new departures?
  • Environmental change has already become a major force propelling migration and displacement across the world, prompting ‘climate refugees’ scarcity of goods/resources. As such, global warming is likely to exacerbate the existing and growing geography of inequality and the uneven distribution of lived insecurity. How will public spaces adapt to the environmental needs and demands prompted by climate change? How will the new risks, harms and vulnerabilities fostered by global warming and the extreme weather conditions that accompany it impact on public spaces as key elements in city-wide ‘green infrastructures’ within European cities?
  • In the face of fiscal restraints on municipal authorities and in the face of pronounced dynamics of privatisation and residualisation of urban public space and the growth of quasi-public ‘mass private property’ (Barker, et al. 2020), what futures do public spaces have as well-resourced, vibrant and convivial spaces? Can public spaces as civic resources survive the encroachment and commodification of the market?


Barker, A. (2017) ‘Mediated Conviviality and the Urban Social Order: Reframing the Regulation of Public Space’, British Journal of Criminology, 57(4): 848–866.

Barker, A., Crawford, A., Booth, N. and Churchill, D. (2019) ‘Everyday Encounters with Difference in Urban Parks: Forging ‘Openness to Otherness’ in Segmenting Cities’, International Journal of Law in Context, 15: 495–514.

Barker, A., Crawford, A., Booth, N. and Churchill, D., (2020) ‘Park Futures: Excavating Images of Tomorrow’s Urban Green Spaces’, Urban Studies, 57(12), 2456–2472.

Crawford, A., (ed.) (2009) Crime Prevention Policies in Comparative Perspective, Cullompton: Willan.

Crawford, A. (2011) ‘From the Shopping Mall to the Street Corner: Dynamics of Exclusion in the Governance of Public Space’, in A. Crawford (ed.) International and Comparative Criminal Justice and Urban Governance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 483-518.

De Cauter, L. (2005) The Capsular Civilization: On the City in an Age of Fear, Rotterdam: NAi Publishers.

Flusty S. (2001) ‘The Banality of Interdiction: Surveillance, Control and the Displacement of Diversity’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 25(3), 658-64.

Graham, S. and Marvin, S. (2001) Splintering Urbanism, London: Routledge.

Hall, S. (1993) ‘Culture, community, nation’, Cultural Studies 7: 349–63.

Hall, S. (2017) The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Jacobs, J. (1961) The Death and Life of Great American Cities, New York: Random House.

Koolhaas, R., Mau, B., Werlemann, H. and Sigler, J. (1995) S, M, L, XL, Rotterdam: 010 Publishers.

Low, S. (2017) Spatializing Culture: The Ethnography of Space and Place, London: Routledge.

Massey, D. (2005) For Space, London: Sage.

Sennett, R. (1992) The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities, New York: WW Norton & Co.

Zedner, L. (2003) ‘Too Much Security?’, International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 31, 155–84.

Engagement and Communication: An update on the State-of-the-Art Review

Engaging and communicating with partners and stakeholders is crucial for any project, so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet our IcARUS partners in person for the first time at the recent Security, Democracy and Cities Conference in Nice. One of the things that makes IcARUS distinct from other projects is the incorporation and synthesis of a large body of academic research and practitioner knowledge developed over the past 30 years in a State-of-the-Art Review. Immediately before the Efus conference, we were invited to engage with a new audience, delivering the keynote speech at the PACTESUR third annual meeting on 19th October, also in Nice, bringing together some preliminary insights from the State-of-the-Art Review with our ongoing discussions with partners.

The State-of-the-Art Review will form the foundation upon which our IcARUS partners move forward, incorporating the broad lessons learnt in developing and co-designing innovative and useful tools for cities to apply in a way that fits their unique needs. The context within which these processes work vary widely between our partner cities, and over the recent months we have been conducting follow-up interviews with them to gain better insight into the urban security initiatives and measures which operate within their cities. This is complimented by further interviews with various prominent international urban security experts, which has helped to ensure a well-rounded understanding of the evolution and current state of urban security. 

Some key themes have emerged from our interviews. Indeed, many of these are strongly reflected in Efus’ PACTESUR project. We were extremely privileged to have the opportunity to present the keynote speech ‘The Evolution of Innovative Approaches to Build More Secure and Safer Public Spaces’, which was well received and helped stimulate a lively debate. This presentation features  some preliminary insight on our work on the State-of-the-Art Review and our ongoing discussions with partners. 

The presentation offers insights not only into one of the IcARUS project’s priority areas, namely ‘designing and managing safer public spaces’, but also highlights the interconnectedness of different urban security concerns faced by many European cities. It also reports on innovations in a couple of our partner cities (Rotterdam and Stuttgart) that illustrate some of the broader themes identified. A summary of our presentation can be found here.