State of the Art Review and Key Lessons
Work Package 2: Task 2.1
The IcARUS State of the Art Review has now been completed and submitted to the Commission. It represents an extensive understanding of the accumulated knowledge base on European urban security over the past 30 years, highlighting key lessons, trends and issues and provides an assessment of the research literature. Here, we present some of the main findings relating to the Review’s four focus areas. Over forthcoming weeks, a variety of factsheets and useful resources to communicate the findings to diverse audiences will be produced. It is intended that these will inform subsequent work of IcARUS and urban security practices across Europe.
The Review and Key Lessons
This Review constitutes an analysis and assessment of the academic research literature relating to crime prevention and urban security topics, and was supplemented by interviews with International Research Experts and interviews with representatives from the six IcARUS partner cities. The focus was on reviews of interventions including summaries and evaluations of multiple interventions, rather than evaluations of individual programmes. It was limited to the English language, representing a broad overview of the current state of crime prevention as urban security. Here, we provide the most prominent lessons from the four focus areas.
The Urban Security Knowledge Base
- Despite considerable advances over the last 30 years, the urban security knowledge base lags behind other fields of public policy.
- Nonetheless, the knowledge that has been accumulated is not being sufficiently implemented or applied in practice.
- Urban security interventions are:
- Often poorly informed by research evidence base (where it exists);
- Rarely specify the theories of change (mechanisms) intended to achieve the desired outcome;
- Frequently suffer from implementation failure;
- Rarely involve rigorous evaluation allowing lessons to be learnt.
The Evidence Base
- The focus on ‘what works’ has provided some rich insights but also reduced the scope of evidence and restricted the methods of data collection.
- It has tended to imply (or been taken to imply) ‘off the shelf’ universal solutions.
- Greater regard needs to be accorded to the relational and process-based mechanisms that foster change.
- Evaluation is important for accountability, to strengthen institutional development and to inform accumulated learning.
- Evaluation needs to be built into interventions in ways that inform understanding of what works, where, for whom and under what conditions.
- In measuring urban security outcomes, police recorded crime data alone are insufficient.
- Different types of data need to be gathered from and shared between institutions.
Preventing Juvenile Delinquency
- Early intervention and developmental programs are increasing in popularity and have proven to demonstrate success. These programs can prevent harmful activities before they occur or behaviour escalates and have also fostered a focus on breaking inter- generational cycles of behavioural problems, violence and abuse and targeting whole families for intervention and support.
- Multi-risk component interventions targeted at multiple risk factors appeared to be more successful than single-factor interventions.
- There was a general lack of research that considers measures relating to the progression of juvenile delinquent acts or behaviours, and implications for future engagement with the criminal justice system (i.e. long-term assessments, context-specific measures, longitudinal studies).
- There remain enduring tensions between universal as opposed to targeted (risk-based) interventions, given concerns about stigmatisation and the potential labelling effects of targeted approaches.
Preventing Radicalisation Leading to Violent Extremism
- Using resilience as the foundation for an integrated framework of prevention appears to show promise due to its holistic approach and wide applicability. However, currently there is little rigorous empirical evidence to support interventions focusing on resilience and, consequently, more empirical evidence is needed.
- Developing inclusive and community-focused programmes ensures broad applicability, mindful of and suited to the local context.
- For primary prevention programmes in educational settings and open youth work to be successful and not counterproductive evidence highlights the need to:
- Ensure integration of all minorities;
- Equip students with tools to learn critical thinking, rather than focusing on a particular ideology or cause;
- Empower students with ways in which they can actively participate in the democratic process;
- Clearly define core values (e.g. democracy, human rights);
- Provide a safe space for exploration and discussion without the fear of referral to authorities.
Preventing and Reducing Trafficking and Organised Crime
- The dominant approaches to organised crime and trafficking remain ones focused on law enforcement through policing, prosecution and punishment, however given their limited effectiveness as prevention strategies, some municipalities have increasingly deployed a variety of administrative measures and ordinances with some success.
- Research suggests a need to examine and understand the underlying drivers facilitating the trafficking of human beings - i.e. contributing industry sectors, to target responses – and to foster policies promoting inclusion and integration of marginalised communities, reducing their dependence on crime and the illicit economy.
- Studies highlight the importance of multi-agency partnerships and inter-agency cooperation. Holistic responses are required to address the inherent complexity of the phenomenon of organised crime and trafficking. These are enhanced where a clearly defined framework of responsibilities and accountability between partners is adopted. Ineffective partnerships and a lack of information sharing are the most common reasons for implementation failure.
Design and Management of Safe public Spaces
- Interventions at the design stage enable up-stream, early opportunities to affect security and harm reduction outcomes, rather than retro-fitting changes after the event.
- Human-centred design solutions afford sensitivity to local context, a focus on the nature of the problem(s) to be addressed, an understanding the causes of social problems, the nature of social interactions and the ways in which people use and adapt to solutions/interventions.
- Involving communities (or representatives) in the design of interventions creates a sense of (local) ownership and participation, as well as ensuring local context is accounted for and incorporated.
We look forward to producing numerous outputs from this Review in the coming weeks, including factsheets and videos which will be available on the IcARUS website. These are intended to be easily accessed by a wide audience and will focus on specific areas of interest or prominence within the Review. Additionally, the State of the Art Review will also be publicly available soon on the IcARUS website, for those interested in reading the full detail and extent of the Review.
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