Community policing in Lisbon – Sustainable local partnerships for safer neighbourhoods
Implementing a community policing model is a challenge for police forces and their partners in governmental agencies, municipal services and more broadly civil society because it requires a relationship of trust and long term commitment. In the past decade, the Lisbon Municipal Police (LMP) has been implementing a community policing model based on the active involvement of local partners and citizens, using an innovative methodology to build and sustain such partnerships over time.
Developed by the LMP in close collaboration with local partners, this methodology consists in jointly preparing the induction of community policing officers to a new territory. Before their deployment, the LMP and local partners work together on a joint planning process in order to prepare and support the officers’ work. It consists of four steps: i) establishing the police-community safety partnership; ii) building a local safety audit; iii) identifying the community policing team profile, and iv) selecting and training the community policing team.
Monthly meetings to identify local concerns
Once the safety partnership is set up, the partners meet once a month to produce an updated safety audit of the neighbourhood and identify the residents’ main security concerns. They then determine the police officers’ profiles that are best suited to the neighbourhood’s specific needs. This in turn guides their selection and training.
A particularly interesting aspect is that the training course includes not only the police officers, but also local stakeholders and representatives of local residents. This allows them to exchange early on and to better understand their respective needs and priorities, which is key to effectively co-produce community safety.
Once this participatory planning phase is completed, the new community policing team is ready to patrol daily their assigned neighbourhood and to network with the safety partnership.
This process ensures all the involved parties, in particular local residents, appropriate the community policing project, thus contributing to its sustainability over time. The responsibility for successful implementation on the ground is shared and thus the project belongs not only to the police, but also to the whole local partnership.
Focus on young people and on safe public spaces
However, there are key target groups that the LMP still needs to include in this process, namely young residents and urban planners. Indeed, it is necessary to develop effective strategies for working with young people and preventing risky behaviours, and on the other hand to foster collaboration between urban planners and the police when designing safe public spaces. In particular, the police’s perspective and know-how should be integrated into the planning of municipal urban projects.
The IcARUS project represents an opportunity for the Lisbon Municipal Police to further explore these issues. It will allow us to develop new tools and approaches, in particular in these two areas. Learning and sharing good practices with other European cities and academia through IcARUS will be crucial to equip the LMP with a set of innovative preventive tools that community policing teams can use to prevent risky behaviours among local youngsters and work more efficiently with urban planners when planning and designing safer public spaces.
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