Portuguese and European experiences with street violence – Seminar in Lisbon – 25 October 2012

Around 90 people took part in this event at the headquarters of the Lisbon Municipal Police. Amongst the participants were a large number of officers from different Portuguese police forces.

 

In his opening address, Guilherme Pinto, Mayor of Matosinhos and President of Efus, reminded participants that the causes behind street violence, and the way it occurs, are common in many countries. Hence the responses should be similar, and Efus’ mission is to make sure that the best responses can be known and accessible to all.

The seminar started with a presentation on the Reco Street Violence project. Participants were invited to submit their work on the project website, so that Efus may collect best practices in the field.

 

A number of presentations on experience of Portuguese police forces followed, both on a national and city level. Statistical data showed a dip in criminality in the last four years, framed by a general rise in crime in the last ten years. All speakers mentioned crimes against property as the most common occurrence, with the majority of crimes being committed by those in lower age groups. All were unanimous in the approach that prevention is the most effective way of dealing with street violence. 

Two examples of criminal groups were given, albeit with different modus operandi and objectives. The fact that both operated in Lisbon is reflective of the statistical data which showed the capital as the area with most crime in Portugal.

 

The following session moved away from crime to look at solutions. A juvenile delinquency detention centre showed its innovative approach where detainees themselves are made responsible for their own reintegration in society. The centre works in close collaboration with parents and others involved in youths’ lives to ensure their wellbeing. Once again, the emphasis was put on prevention, to avoid juvenile delinquency occurrences and reoccurrences.

 

The last session brought three participants from the UK, Italy and Spain to share their experiences. Andy Mills showed the specificities of the UK situation, with its distinct police forces and approaches to crime problems. The situations presented by the Italian and Spanish speakers were similar, with gang violence being a quasi direct result of migration from Latin American countries. Two very distinct approaches by city authorities showed two ways to tackle the problem of gang presence.

The EU Reco Street Violence project is developing an online database to make knowledge and good practice on violence committed by youth groups accessible to practitioners, academics and policy makers.

For that purpose it has been undertaking a vast review of documents, recommendations and practices. It is currently undertaking a European survey of practices in European cities and regions.

 

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