Urban Security in the last 30 years: an upcoming in-depth analysis

This strand of the IcARUS project aims to provide an in-depth analysis of urban security in Europe over the last 30 years with particular regard to the four priority areas of: preventing juvenile delinquency; preventing radicalisation leading to extremist violence, countering organised crime and trafficking at local level, and designing and managing safe public spaces.

This ambitious and wide-ranging review of learning from innovations in practices, policies and research aims to provide useful tools and strategies for implementation across cities. It will help identify barriers to implementation and opportunities to overcome these. The review will draw upon the existing knowledge base and complement this with a focus on the application and translation of knowledge into concrete and deliverable practices. It will do so through a systematic literature review, interviews with key experts and analysis of city-level innovations, with particular attention to the four priority areas.

Aims and tasks

While the overall goal of the project is to provide urban security strategies for European cities, the second phase of the IcARUS project is concerned with providing the knowledge base and learning from which to determine best practices, tools and institutional barriers concerning urban security issues. This critical review will then work to inform a roadmap for the improvement and definition of tools to be used throughout this project. This will provide a solid base from which future tools and strategies can be developed and their implementation advanced and assessed in ways that produce real value to urban security stakeholders.

Currently, we are working on a state-of-the-art review that will focus on specific criteria including:

  • How policy has evolved over 30 years;
  • How prevention policies have responded to (new) challenges and identifying institutional barriers to their implementation;
  • Gaps in knowledge;
  • Successful/unsuccessful case studies within municipalities.

Initially, our focus has been on defining a shared understanding of some key concepts that will inform the review, the aim being to establish a common working language for all partners involved in the project. As the initial scope of the IcARUS project establishes a broad area of research, we have sought to delimit the parameters of the review in appropriate and manageable ways. The key terms we have chosen to focus our initial efforts on are: urban security, crime prevention strategies, multi-stakeholder partnerships, preventing juvenile delinquency, preventing radicalisation, preventing and reducing organised crime and trafficking, and managing public spaces.
These terms seek to identify and clarify a common understanding/use of key concepts and terminology related to the tasks by ensuring the following:

  • To clarify the parameters of the conceptual framework within which we are working.
  • To make choices about what is and what is not in the scope of the Review.
  • To develop a common definition and glossary for use in the data collection for the Review.
  • To make the task of the Review both manageable and founded on the basis of a shared understanding.
  • To give the four priority areas greater focus around the city-level delivery of urban security through multi-stakeholder partnerships.
  • To ensure the utility and value of the Review for the intended beneficiaries and end-users.

Furthermore, we will develop a common glossary of terms to ensure that all partners and sectors have the same, shared understanding.

Ongoing work with partners

In order to understand the intended beneficiaries of the review and the urban contexts in which any strategies and tools are to be implemented, and in keeping with the human-centred design approach, we have sought to establish a clear overview of the needs and priorities of each of the six cities that are part of the IcARUS consortium:

  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Nice, France
  • Riga, Latvia
  • Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • Stuttgart, Germany
  • Turin, Italy

To this end, we have surveyed the expertise and experiences of each city through desk research and in-depth meetings with key representatives from each city.

Working methods for review and data collection

Our task of conducting the Review presents a complex and broad challenge, as it aims to consider the policy and practice innovations on a city level in Europe over the past 30 years. We expect this task broadly to consist of the following: 1) under standing the cities, 2) general literature review, 3) review of policy and practice innovations at the city level across Europe, and 4) data collection and analysis.

1. Understanding the cities

We will work with our six city partners to better understand the development needs in relation to each city and identify shared/common challenges, with particular regard to: the organisation and operationalisation of urban security; innovations in crime prevention strategies in the four priority areas; and existing multi-stakeholder partnership relations.

2. General literature review

A systematic review of major approaches of crime prevention as applied to urban security in the four priority areas will cover: types of theories; shifts in crime prevention models/prevalent theories; types of evidence-based research and best practices/interventions used in the past up to now, and what criminogenic factors have been considered.

3. Review of policy and practice innovations at the city level across Europe

The Review will seek to identify criteria for the cross-analysis of policies and practices (e.g. common models, strategies, and methods used to enhance urban security; indicators to respond to insecurity/crime surge; security plans/crime prevention structure; institutional barriers, knowledge gaps, factors contributing to failure).

4. Methods of Data collection

Data will be collected with the following methodologies:
• Analysing existing databases;
• Interviews with key experts and stakeholders
within and beyond the Consortium);
• Focus groups/Round tables;
• Literature review.

The review will include both qualitative and quantitative analysis in order to measure successful urban security outcomes. Quantitative types of analysis will consider crime rates including displacement/reduction levels, while qualitative data will likely focus on feelings of security/insecurity at a community level, or other types of interview or survey-based data.

Next steps

We expect to begin our literature review starting in November 2020 and continuing until June 2021, while our data collection will take place from January 2021 to approximately August 2021 and commencing our data analysis in June 2021. The global Covid-19 has obviously an impact on our work as we cannot conduct in-person interviews and focus groups, but we will move these activities online for the time being.

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