The contribution of the IcARUS project in re-thinking Urban Security in Europe

The IcARUS Project will dynamically participate in the 30th International Conference of Europeanists organised by the Council for European Studies in Lyon France on Radical Europe: Violence, Emancipation, and Reaction in July 2024.

This is a great opportunity for researchers to come together, as the IcARUS project aims to improve urban security in Europe by developing innovative tools for local authorities and practitioners to address four security challenges: radicalisation, juvenile delinquency, trafficking and organised crime, and public spaces issues.

To that end, a team of five IcARUS partners, EFUS, KEMEA, Riga, Erasmus University, and Stuttgart will participate in a dedicated panel where they will be discussing the contribution of IcARUS in addressing radicalisation and enhancing urban security at large.

Emphasis shall be placed on the use of the Design Thinking Methodology – which is central to the project – and the stages it involves: co-creation, testing, and validation of the produced tools with end-users and pertinent stakeholders.

IcARUS partners will raise awareness and foster dialogue on community policing issues and on cultivating stakeholder engagement. Pertinent to radicalisation, IcARUS panelists will provide insights on how to promote the participation and involvement of people in democratic processes, focusing on young Europeans who are most exposed to experiencing discrimination combined with low participation rates in sociopolitical life.

Stay tuned for the results of this very interesting conference!

Training local practitioners in using the IcARUS tools

Between November 2023 and January 2024, the project conducted a series of sessions to train local practitioners – mainly municipal staff and local police officers – on using the six IcARUS tools.

The objective was to equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge on how to use the IcARUS tools and its various components. These sessions were designed by the IcARUS partners, i.e., Efus, the University of York, IDIAP Research Institute, Camino and the University of Salford, in coordination with the IcARUS cities.

Gender inclusiveness
Each training included a session on gender-inclusiveness conducted by Dr Natalie Higham-James, Research Fellow at the School of Law of the University of York.
The objective was to demonstrate the value and importance of adopting an inclusive approach when delivering the tool, ensuring that the city is able to engage with and respond to the needs of as many different people (and their experiences) as possible.

Five gender-inclusive principles
Dr Higham-James’ intervention focused on three aspects: to understand what a gender-inclusive approach looks like; to apply the five gender-inclusive principles to our work; and, to feel confident in doing so.
Whilst sessions were tailored to each of the city’s tools, users, needs and urban security concerns, five principles were applied across all: Representation, Inclusion, Empowerment, Responsiveness and Breaking Down Stereotypes. These principles provided a framework for cities to implement inclusive practices, exploring the key questions they should ask of themselves and their tools, and providing tactics for navigating delivery and any challenges along the way. Critically, the sessions demonstrated how ensuring inclusive approaches is not only a legal, moral and social responsibility, but also a vital key to successful tool deployment for the benefit of all citizens.

The project is now organising several activities to see on the ground how the IcARUS cities are demonstrating their tools. Stay tuned!

The six partner cities’ tools

  • Riga (Latvia) is examining how to better match citizens’ feelings and experiences of insecurity with local police interventions.
  • Rotterdam (Netherlands) is looking at the Spaanse Polder Café, a collaborative approach involving businesses established in the eponymous industrial park with the aim of countering organised crime.
  • Nice (France) is testing its Demandez Angela (Ask for Angela) scheme to assist victims of harassment and insecurity in public spaces.
  • Lisbon (Portugal) is launching a 12-week programme to develop young people’s feelings of self-worth and self-confidence, providing them with practical life skills and improving their relationships with police and their local community.
  • Stuttgart (Germany) seeks to build the resilience of local young residents to radicalisation.
  • Turin (Italy) is looking at a collaborative decision-making approach for producing interventions that tackle youth delinquency and enable evidence-based interventions.

News Update: Exploring Urban Safety through IcARUS Project

Check out the latest research on local crime prevention policies and quality of life in the paper “Local policies of crime prevention and quality of life” by Zarafonitou Ch., Karagiannidis Ch., Kontopoulou E. The study, enriched from its presentation at the “PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT” conference, emphasizes the importance of decentralized prevention policies. Notably, the IcARUS Project is referenced, highlighting the project’s goals, objectives, and consortium. This research underscores the significance of community involvement and collaboration for urban safety, both internationally and in the European context.

Read the full paper here (available in Greek). Additional details on the research are available here

Exhibition on “Research at Panteion” in the framework of Freshmen Reception Week at Panteion University

On Wednesday, 11 October 2023, in the context of the Freshmen Reception Week, Panteion University organized a very interesting exhibition on “Research at Panteion” and the Laboratory of Urban Criminology of Panteion University -with its rich research work- actively participated. Representatives and collaborators of the Laboratory were present to provide information material and answer questions to those who visited the stand, while at the same time video material was shown on some of the research projects that were recently completed or were ongoing.

The Rector of Panteion University, Prof. Christina Koulouri and the Vice Rector of Finance Prof. Christos Papatheodorou, visited the stand and showed particular in interest in the Laboratory’s actions. The Laboratory’s team presented thoroughly the research projects that have been completed so far by the Laboratory and those that are still ongoing.

In this context the Laboratory team presented IcARUS Project (the objectives of the project, the methodology, the consortium and the participating cities, the ultimate goals and the main results so far). The team also gave IcARUS information material and pens to those who visited the stand.

Breaking New Ground: IcARUS Project to Unveil Innovations in Urban Security at Council for European Studies Annual Conference

In our pursuit of innovative, evidence-based, and human-centred approaches to urban security prevention, we are thrilled to announce the acceptance by the conference organisers of our plans to share IcARUS learnings at the Council for European Studies annual conference in July this year, in Lyon, France.

The University of York is delighted to have led on a collaborative bid for a special panel devoted to showcase the IcARUS project at this year’s conference. The panel brings together six consortium partners who will each provide a fascinating insight into their work on IcARUS, including: The University of York, The European Forum for Urban Security (Efus), The Centre for Security Studies at Hellenic Ministry of Citizen Protection (KEMEA), Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Riga Municipal Police, and Stuttgart’s Inside Out e.V. The conference theme ‘Radical Europe: Violence, Emancipation and Reaction’ invites participants to speak to what ‘Radicality’ means to them; our panel will provide some of the first insights into the outcomes of IcARUS and how the project has strengthened our understanding of and approach to ‘Radicality’.

Focusing on one of the four main security priorities covered by the IcARUS project – namely the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism – consortium members will provide first-hand insights into the innovative contributions to rethinking and adapting existing tools which are helping local security actors anticipate and better respond to security challenges. Following from an overview of the project, led by the University of York, Efus will begin our discussions by delving into the pivotal role of local authorities in addressing the complex issues of radicalisation and polarisation, shedding light on the effective interventions and strategies that local authorities can deploy. KEMEA will discuss the importance and process of co-creating, testing and validating tools for preventing radicalisation at the local level with end-users. This Design Thinking Methodology will be further elaborated by EUR who will speak to the importance of these locally-designed tools and their capacity to be transferable to other local contexts in the prevention of radicalisation. Our final two contributions are from two of our partner cities. Firstly, representatives from Riga will explore the future application of their tool to the realm of Incel culture as a form of Radicality. They will do this by sharing some of the key findings from their IcARUS tool which enables the collection and assessment of feelings of insecurity within local populations which they argue is a key step in preventing security challenges, such as radicality. Finally, Inside Out e.V. who are leading the development of the tool in Stuttgart will explore the application of the innovative tool ‘Trick17’, designed to increase resilience against the radicality of young people through magic shows.

The panel contributions will demonstrate how custom-made solutions to radicalisation have been developed, incorporating social and technological innovations, within IcARUS. They will posit the importance of preventative approaches informed by experience and academia, and the necessity of multi-stakeholder co-production, also exploring the challenges of these types of projects. The panel offers us an exciting opportunity to disseminate the findings of IcARUS with interested parties from across and beyond Europe. We look forward to utilising this opportunity to demonstrate the powerful impact our innovative tools to the urban security concern of Radicality can have.

Preventing local discriminatory violence: community initiatives

The fifth and final instalment of the IcARUS web conference series, held online on 21 September, focused on the local prevention of discriminatory violence.  

Representatives from the project’s partner cities (Rotterdam, Lisbon, Nice, Stuttgart, Riga and Turin), along with 30 other participants from various European local authorities and research institutions, discussed  their prevention practices and tools with the Director of Belgium’s International Centre for Equal Opportunities (Unia), Patrick Charlier.  

The City of Rotterdam presented its  Spaanse Polder Café scheme, whereby locals can meet with local police and authorities to discuss issues linked to organised crime. 

The City of Rotterdam representative asked Patrick Charlier for advice on how to address negative reactions stemming from differences between groups, and asked for examples of approaches that help foster collaboration among diverse groups.

Patrick Charlier mentioned the Le Choix Égalité  tool, which is based on examples in education, police and the justice system from Flanders and Wallonia,  The tool is available in French, Dutch and German (but not English).

He also mentioned that research shows that contact improves knowledge and tolerance between diverse groups. A prior study from Unia on LGBT issues revealed that exposure to different nationalities fosters greater tolerance towards the LGBT community.

Another issue discussed during the web conference is how to prevent profiling and biases among police forces. 

Patrick Charlier mentioned a year-long research-action project during which a researcher was embedded with the Brussels police to detect and examine ethnic profiling and bias. Based on this study, Unia drew up a series of recommendations, including: 

  • Acknowledge that ethnic profiling happens
  • Facilitate the reporting of issues 
  • Encourage police to be open about their actions so they can better  connect with the public
  • Stress the importance for police to explain  their daily work to avoid misunderstandings
  • Urge management to take action against wrongdoing without overlooking it to prevent a culture of acceptance
  • Emphasise that review services are not just for control but also for providing help and support.

Relevant links related to this topic (in French only):

More information

To revisit the previous four sessions held this year, see below: 

  • Session 1 – How to integrate gender into urban security policies? Read full article HERE
  • Session 2 – How can the Design Thinking methodology contribute to a more strategic approach to urban security? Read full article HERE
  • Session 3- How can citizens be mobilised to contribute to safe public spaces? Read full article HERE
  • Session 4- To what extent is restorative justice effective in juvenile delinquency cases? Read full article HERE

Design Thinking proves to be a good methodology for public policy

IcARUS has been in motion for over three years now. During this time, our six partner cities have gotten accustomed to the ins-and-out of the Design Thinking methodology. Now the time has come for real-life testing through the schemes developed by these cities through IcARUS, and for the team to observe and report on how the methodology is being implemented.

The IcARUS project is led by the Design Thinking approach: a problem-solving methodology that prioritises a user-centric approach to innovation. Specifically, it involves empathising with end-users and on this basis defining problems, ideating solutions and prototyping and testing them. The IcARUS project six partner cities – Lisbon, Nice, Riga, Rotterdam, Stuttgart and Turin – have been using the methodology to design and implement schemes that tackle a security issue they deem a priority.

A good match for public administrations
In the development of IcARUS, it became evident that Design Thinking needed to be adapted rather than just adopted. The dynamic framework that this approach embodies matches with the iterative nature of public administration, making it the ideal methodology to ensure that unique contextual factors are taken into account. Anticipating and accommodating local stakeholders’ attitude towards innovative solutions allows for a better approach to defining their roles as well as the problem at hand and the project’s life cycle, too. Adapting the methodology means setting a strong organisational foundation that foresees leadership changes as well as strengths and weaknesses within the team. Indeed, given that Design Thinking focuses upon collaboration and the co-creation of ideas, it is essential to tailor the methodology to the contexts, needs and culture of the stakeholders involved.

Validation workshops
Validation workshops are one of the activities that have underscored the importance of adapting Design Thinking rather than copy-pasting the approach from a textbook. In the project, they have been relevant to fine-tuning Design Thinking principles and how they are applied in the real world. In this way, we have been able to observe instances in which Design Thinking ought to be further adapted and we are devising recommendations accordingly. Methodology adaptations in IcARUS encompass contexts, communication, structure of workshops, timelines and many more aspects.

Emphasising the integration of Design Thinking within IcARUS enhances the practicality and relevance of this framework in the realm of public administration, offering a fresh and innovative outlook. IcARUS’s ongoing efforts showcase the tangible application of the Design Thinking methodology in real-world scenarios, providing a concrete model for others to follow. Crucially, it illustrates that projects and their teams can uphold their vision while effectively navigating the practical aspects of the Design Thinking process and its objectives.

Social Acceptability in IcARUS – Plus Ethics at the first Congress of Students of Criminology

In the quest for safer communities, crime prevention programmes are pivotal in shaping strategy and policy. However, assessing their impact extends beyond crime statistics. Plus Ethics, a non-profit devoted to ethical outcomes and positive societal impact, explores social acceptability in crime prevention and will publish later this year a report on emerging ethical challenges.

Expected and unexpected impacts of crime prevention programmes

Plus Ethics acknowledges the need to evaluate crime prevention programmes for optimal resource allocation and decision-making. Research indicates that some programmes may inadvertently heighten insecurity, especially with police interaction or neighbourhood watch schemes. Anticipating potential unintended impacts through evaluations is crucial. Resource allocation for crime control, particularly in an incrementalist model, must be fully justified, integrating all values into programme design and outcomes pursuit.

The literature on ‘societal impact assessment’ began to grow about 20 years ago, and since 2021, Horizon Europe has been emphasising the importance of ‘ensuring ethical outcomes that are supported by society’ in security research.

An empirical study under way
Responsible research, as underscored by the European Commission, is linked to citizen engagement. The legitimacy, acceptability and desirability of policies are defined by citizens. Recognising this, Plus Ethics is planning an empirical study in the first half of 2024, using the nominal group technique to gather scientific evidence from the IcARUS project’s six partner cities. The objective is to identify emerging moral needs and assess the acceptability and social impact of the tools and methodologies developed in IcARUS.

This initiative responds to the broader call for increased social acceptability in security research and technology. Security research and policy often lack transparency, exclude stakeholders and breed public mistrust. Involving stakeholders in assessing policy acceptability and identifying risks, challenges, and solutions is vital for maximising positive social impacts.

Plus Ethics presents IcARUS at the Congress of Criminology Students in Elche

The first Congress of Criminology Students held at the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (Spain) on 28 November provided a platform for Plus Ethics to present the IcARUS project, in which it is a partner. The presentation detailed completed work and future plans for criminological and social science research within the project.
IcARUS aims to redefine ethical considerations in crime prevention, aligning with a global shift towards a comprehensive approach using social sciences for a holistic understanding of societal change.

In conclusion, Plus Ethics leads in shaping ethical and socially acceptable crime prevention programs. As IcARUS unfolds, the organisation maintains transparency, accountability, and community engagement in all its undertakings. Its commitment extends beyond reducing crime to building trust, ensuring fair treatment and maximising positive social impact.
In the evolving crime prevention landscape, Plus Ethics exemplifies the paradigm shift towards responsible research and innovation for a safer and more inclusive society.

Innovative results for local democracies

The tools and activities developed in the IcARUS project in various European cities are of great interest to us at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences.

The scientific monitoring of these activities provides us with useful information since our teaching and research is focused on  social innovation and the development of democracy and that we share the results of our work with our networks, especially our students from the field of social work.

Work package 4 in particular, in which the tools are being tested and initial results are expected, will enrich our teaching. We also want to reflect on these results in scientific articles and pass them on to stakeholders from Austrian cities as good practice.

Our main focus in the project is on supporting cities that are dedicated to preventing radicalisation and extremism, which is particularly true of Stuttgart. Our many years of experience in the development, implementation and scientific monitoring of social innovations, especially in the prevention of anti-democratic tendencies, is very helpful for our role in the IcARUS project.

We also endeavour to draw on preliminary work from previous EU projects and share this experience with our project partners. We have already summarised the main findings from these previous projects in two publications: Handbook for Inclusive Democracy and Empowerment at Local Level and Resilience Against Anti-Democratic Tendencies Through Education. Competences for Democratic Culture in European Social and Youth Work* The work we carried out in the past will be expanded and deepened by the IcARUS project.

* You can download this publication in four languages here

Local validation workshops: Toolkit development on the finish straight

Participation and co-production are core principles of the IcARUS project: Rethinking and innovating existing urban security practices and adapting them to today’s challenges demand that local communities be engaged as active co-producers rather than passive recipients of public services. The development, demonstration and implementation of the IcARUS toolkit thus follows an interactive design thinking methodology, which fosters the active partaking of local practitioners in defining and framing local challenges as well as in developing and implementing innovative schemes that can help address or solve a particular local issue.

A wide range of civil society actors

The tool development process conducted in IcARUS’ 3rd work package did not only engage the consortium’s city administrations, law enforcement agencies and research institutions, but also a wide range of civil society actors such as youth centres, neighbourhood councils, women’s shelters, religious communities, and local businesses. Depending on which of the four IcARUS focus topics (preventing juvenile delinquency, countering radicalisation, reducing trafficking and organised crime or managing safer public spaces) the respective city works on, they chose relevant local initiatives and organisations and associated them to different events and activities.

A workshop methodology

To conclude the tool development phase and move forward to the demonstration and implementation of the toolkit which is at the core of IcARUS’ 4th work package, each city recently conducted a workshop to gather feedback from the local actors on the finalised version of their tool, envisage adaptations and refinements where necessary, and eventually validate it.

Camino developed a workshop methodology based on design thinking principles, which included presentations of the finalised tools, plenary discussions, work on prepared canvases in breakout groups, on-site digital opinion polls and moderated sessions dedicated to handing over results from the working groups. Just as the tools themselves, the key determining factors of the workshop formats were diverse. For example, the number of local actors involved ranged from 10 to around 45. The time dedicated to the workshop varied from focused half-day sessions to whole day events. The workshop model was thus individually adapted, and all city representatives received trainings preparing them for the sessions.

In Lisbon, more than 40 people gathered in May to discuss and validate the Youth Design Lisboa (Jovem Design Lisboa) tool, a young person-led programme fostering positive relationships between police and local youngsters. The participants, among whom many police officers, youth workers and neighbourhood councillors who will implement the programme in different parishes of Lisbon, confirmed their approval of the tool and discussed the concrete planning of further steps.

In Nice, around 16 participants, among whom social workers, but also consultants in design and mediation service, gathered and validated the implementation of the Ask for Angela scheme (‘Demandez Angela’), whereby victims of sexual harassment can ask for help in hospitality venues. Apart from helping victims, the scheme will also improve the perception of public safety in central areas of the city.

In Riga, 10 participants consisting of police officers, NGOs and local coordinators endorsed and planned the implementation of To Make Riga Safe (Par drošu Rīgu), a survey conducted by police officers, NGOs and local district coordinators leading to an evidence-based adaptation of district policing tactics by analysing police records and citizens’ perceptions of security.

In Rotterdam, a consultation with around 25 business representatives as well as police and city administrative partners took place in September in the form of a business lunch, which led to adaptations in the planning of Spaanse Polder Café, a scheme aiming to foster social cohesion in the industrial port area affected by drug trafficking and organised crime.

In Stuttgart, a workshop with around 10 participants took place in October, presenting the method of the Cart Against Radicalisation to the community of interest, among them social workers and other experts such as the Federal Criminal Police Office.

In Turin, a workshop washeld in November with 16 participants who validated Sbocciamo Torino (Let Turin Bloom). Among the participants were notable members of the committee that will work with the digital data dashboard developed through IcARUS to facilitate local crime prevention planning as well as with other stakeholders. On the same day, a training session was held focusing on how to interpret and operationalise the data provided by the dashboard.

Camino has analysed data gathered during the workshops as well as via questionnaires filled in by the participants, and compiled a report that includes the workshops results and recommendations for individual cities as well as for the overall project. The insights will support the further implementation and dissemination of the toolkit and inform the development of training materials for local security practitioners.