Ensuring Europeans’ safety is a multilevel governance policy, hence run at the European, national and local level. At the EU level, the European Agenda on Security strengthen the tools provided to national law enforcement authorities to fight terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime. The main challenge is to ensure that people live in an area of freedom, security and justice, without internal frontiers in full compliance with the Union's values, including the rule of law and fundamental rights. Urban security policies contribute to develop a secure environment at the local level. Cities are place to various forms of crime activities and safety threats (organised crime, violence towards minorities, vandalism, terrorism, etc.) which evolve fast due to external factors –economics crisis or a change in modus operandi of organised crime; and cities internal changes –as city expansion or urban planning. Thus, ensuring public safety involves numerous fields and policy areas related to social integration, law enforcement, society’s resilience and community empowerment. Because of such complexity, a number of actors are involved in ensuring daily citizens’ safety in public places such as first responders (police, fire fighters, civil protection units), health and social sectors, schools, non-governmental organisations, civil society partners, as well as urban designers. Among them, urban authorities are very important players to ensure that actual and perceived security are addressed by targeted measures.
In order to help address these challenges, the European Commission invited European cities to put forward innovative projects that identify, assess and tackle safety threats in the 4th call of proposals:
- Identifying threats. The definition of threats to urban security requires an objective, evidence-based assessment of vulnerabilities. Local authorities were called on to conduct this assessment through collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data (especially on cybersecurity and unreported crime), in cooperation with relevant stakeholders and communities.
- Addressing social aspects of lack of security. Dealing with urban security issues requires working in a holistic approach encompassing the unsafety causes as well as the perceived lack of security. To do so, it is suggested to adopt a bottom up perspective, fostering citizen’s empowerment and capacity building of local communities, including enhanced risk awareness and building societal resilience.
- Tackling and dealing with security issues. Different measures are brought up such as the improvement of spatial design, urban planning and development to standardization of the processes in order to improve cross-sectoral cooperation among the different stakeholders.