Think globally-solve locally
The comparison between police officers and other respondents shows that about one-half of the police officers do not believe such councils are effective, whereas the majority of the other respondents think that these councils serve the community and contribute to a greater social cohesion and safety in the area. This is a remarkable finding because the local safety councils were initiated and facilitated by the police. The police seem to have too high an expectation of the safety councils. Their view of the councils as an expanded 'police arm' is probably too ambitious.
Instead of this, the meetings of the councils are rather a place for democratic debate and the exchange of different views on local problems. Sometimes the views on solving local safety problems of other partners involved differ significantly from those of the police. A recent solution for such a disparity is the Local Police Act[viii] which requires a local annual safety/security plan which should be prepared by local administration in with cooperation with the police.
Planned, systematic and co-ordinated communal/common crime prevention and efforts for local safety/security are still at an early stage mainly due to the problems of centralised local institutions and consequently of the financing of activities on the local level. The results imply that a role of local municipalities in the field of crime prevention and local safety has not yet been clearly defined. Despite all of these obstacles, numerous activities take place at the local level, especially those of the local governmental (state) institutions, NGOs and civil society initiatives. A national crime prevention programme, which should stress the organisation of crime prevention and local safety/security efforts, has not yet been adopted.
Due to its complexity, a consensus on its contents has not been totally agreed upon. It is also necessary to learn from others' experiences that witness that crime prevention and local safety/security activities can become a subtle "people friendly control". It is only about net-widening and has nothing to do with the "real crime prevention" and reassurance.
Authoritarian and non-democratic organisation of such activities can only lead to "police-isation" of the local communities where the primary goal is serving the police with information for criminal investigation and order maintenance. Other functions of common safety endeavours are neglected in this scenario. Such scenarios can be prevented if institutions, agencies, and representatives from all parts of society are included into local decision-making bodies; i.e. safety councils.An effective safety policy depends upon close co-operation between the police and the local community.
This is also the main principle underlying the concept of community policing. With regard to the role of local safety councils and community policing, the police have contributed substantially, perhaps even too eagerly. A crucial question is the extent to which the police can achieve consent with local citizens in solving crime and safety problems. There are still substantial obstacles, resulting from the current formal rules (which do not allow police discretion in the field of achieving 'police-community consensus') and from the restrictive policing mentality, which relies upon the idea of law enforcement and control. Co-operation of the police with local communities and local administrations is still limited to informal communication without any obligation and real consequences for everyday practices of the involved institutions.
It seems that these activities have more influence on the reduction of fear of crime or feelings of insecurity than on the reduction and elimination of crime in the community. It will take quite some time for the police and the community to learn how to co-operate and solve problems together more effectively. It is also necessary to emphasize that local experts in security issues and crime prevention perceive problems from their local perspective and often neglect the global perspective of their local safety and security problems.
It is necessary to learn about global and local trends in security threats for more effective provision of safety/security and crime prevention on the local level.
Article name: Think globally-solve locally essay, research paper, dissertation