Crime prevention is a fundamental part of any security policy. The inhabitants of a neighborhood can identify the specific needs of a community. Thus, their participation becomes central when developing plans and proposals appropriate to the local reality.

Community participation in the design, implementation, and evaluation of public security policies is one of the keys to the democratic security paradigm. It is also one of its greatest challenges.

Today it is possible to highlight the importance of the community's commitment to the State in improving the relationship with the police, implement control, and evaluation of the police service, the prevention of violence and crime, the development of security strategies that consider factual specifics and promote security. Generated both from the citizens' initiative and at the behest of the State, the experiences of participation, in turn, contribute to strengthening community ties, recovering trust in institutions, and ultimately summoning society to become actively involved.

It should be noted that public policies that involve community participation are very diverse. There are no ideal types, but usually, these are built from different models, to give rise to the most varied experiences. It is worth pointing out some aspects specifically related to prevention, which allow us to better understand the scope of the call to an active and committed community.

What is the role of the community in the development of prevention strategies? What is the real scope and limits of these initiatives?

Two actors that associate: State-community

Being part of a "community" implies coexistence in relative geographical proximity. Fundamentally, it consists of part of a group from which affinity ties are built that predispose neighbors to face common problems and look after the interests of this shared environment. At this point it should be clarified that the option for the term "community" instead of "citizenship" is linked to the possibility of using a broader and more inclusive concept of various realities. It leaves aside a term whose association to a legal policy limits the focus to communities.

In the last decades, the complexity of the problems related to public security and the difficulties that the State faces to give efficient and effective solutions has promoted participation policies that seek to generate greater support from society. It recovers legitimacy of the institutions in charge of formal social control and to focus more precisely on the efforts made around prevention.

In this way, democratic security as a paradigm gained momentum from this call for community participation in the construction of a new way of thinking and executing security policies. The responsibility for crime prevention and control is no longer seen as the exclusive prerogative of the police institution.

The responsibility mentioned above is extended and involves various state agencies, social, political, community organizations, and even neighbors in general. In an association that contemplates the most varied nuances, the State then proposes mechanisms that imply a shared responsibility in this complex but challenging process of design, implementation and control of security policies.

Scope of crime prevention

Preventing crime is intervening before it occurs. There are various resources – beyond the criminal justice system – that can be put in place to act in preventive matters, and the community plays an interesting role.

In this regard, we resort to some ideas proposed by Community Watch, a platform for crime prevention and community participation. Let's see some of the views:

“To begin with, a well-established community that participates and is committed to solving the security problems can have a positive impact on reducing crime. Within this situational-environmental prevention, the community intervenes not only through diagnosis. But fundamentally through the implementation of concrete actions in an environment. They contribute to recovering these spaces and have a direct impact on insecurity.

“Likewise, it is possible to generate examples of community integration that contribute to recovering the social fabric. Through this axis, it seeks to influence those processes of social, economic, and cultural disintegration that are at the root of the problems of crime. Various experiences account for the effort made in the design of concrete initiatives for working with vulnerable groups. participating community must also have the capacity to act through the development of plans and proposals appropriate to the situation.

“Finally, it is appropriate to mention the importance of the community view in the elaboration of diagnoses. The possibility of identifying problems that are excluded from criminal statistics because they do not involve the commission of crimes but are part of a conflict, gives the community a predominant role. On the other hand, participatory diagnoses make it possible to account for situations of violence or crimes that go unreported.”

This view is complementary to that based only on police information, which allows strengthening or focusing strategies related to crime prevention based on information provided by the community itself.

Author's Bio: 

Brooke Whistance perspicacious columnist, writer, and blogger, always engrossed to help youth and women to reach their goals. Her focus has been on writing, producing and editing stories on lifestyle, tech, business, interesting personalities, entrepreneurs, culture, the environment, and social issues. You can always find her @IamBrooke94.