IcARUS Consultative Committee of Cities (CCC) interviews

Welcome to the IcARUS Consultative Committee of Cities (CCC) interviews!

The CCC supports and disseminates the implementation of the project by providing practitioners’ perspectives and feedback. As such, it plays a key role in strengthening multi-level governance and local partnerships.

We’re starting this series of interviews with Gian Guido Nobili, Head of the Urban Security and Crime Prevention Unit of the Emilia-Romagna Region and national coordinator of the Italian Forum for Urban Security FISU.

“Local crime prevention needs more resources and professionalism”

What does the Region of Emilia Romagna hope to bring to the IcARUS project?

Gian Guido Nobili: The Emilia-Romagna Region set up its Urban Security and Crime Prevention Unit in 1994. It was the first time that a department was created in an Italian region specifically to deal with issues of urban safety. One of its first projects was Città Sicure (“safe cities”), which was groundbreaking at the time for its originality and the depth of the scientific and theoretic debate it generated. Through Città Sicure, we explored urban security through the prism of politics and culture. We also planned and conducted  research-action activities, as well as projects based on innovative crime prevention methods, training programmes and opportunities to exchange experiences. Furthermore, the project published a periodic journal featuring critical analyses of the activities that were carried out and in-depth coverage of scientific debates on crime prevention. This publication also contributed to disseminating a common terminology on urban security issues. Both Città Sicure and IcARUS were/are broad, in-depth projects that explore a wide range of urban security problems. We thus hope to bring the experience we gained through Città Sicure to our IcARUS partners with a view to provide recommendations to local governments and disseminate information and best practices on innovative approaches to urban security.

What results do you expect from the IcARUS project?

We hope to better understand the social phenomena that are being targeted by local urban security strategies and how crime prevention programmes and other types of interventions and schemes have impacted local communities in different European contexts. Moreover, we are keen to gain more information on phenomena of criminality and on the most suitable strategies to prevent urban violence and decay. In particular, we seek to better understand how urban security strategies affect citizens’ fear of crime and feelings of insecurity, how they can effectively prevent crime, and how they can transform relationships between citizens and public institutions.

What is the added value for the Emilia Romagna Region in being part of the Consultative Committee of Cities (CCC)?

The added value resides in being able to compare practices and exchange expertise between international experts, with the aim of formulating recommendations that will be applicable in our regional context.

What other cooperation opportunities can arise from your involvement in this project?

This project could also facilitate inter-institutional co-ordination and exchanges of information and best practices in order to identify elements that are similar in different cultural or local contexts and can be translated into innovative urban security policies here in the Emilia-Romagna Region.

What inspiration have you gained through the project’s results to date and network events?

The role of local authorities and community actors, including the private sector, in urban security policies is more frequently recognised now than in the past by international and national organisations. Yet, actual progress does not appear to match the stated goals. While local authorities are best placed to identify the needs and potential of the local population, their legal status and financial resources remain limited. The participation and involvement of residents and community groups is still often restricted to a more or less informal consultation and is hindered by instability and a lack of sustainable resources.

What are the main drawbacks that hinder local crime prevention, in your view?

Local governments too rarely employ  real experts, i.e. professional security managers, and safety and security remain by and large an added function given to one or more local civil servants, who thus only deal with these issues a few times a year or only manage the meetings of the local safety and security council. Consequently, the management of safety/security, disorder and crime prevention remains in too many cases a matter for the local police only, as the only professional organisation which is involved in local efforts to strengthen the safety and security of local communities.

We need to provide capable professionals who can successfully deal with local safety/security and crime problems. It is one of the main problems that must be overcome in order to have really innovative urban security policies in Europe.