Reflections on developments in urban security across Europe over the last 30 years: trends and enduring tensions

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This article reflects on the learning, developmental trends and research evidence accumulated over the last 30 years in relation to crime prevention and urban safety in Europe, with a particular focus on urban policies and city-level strategies delivered through multi-sectoral partnerships. Intrinsically, it focuses on commonalities rather than divergences. It draws on an international review of urban security research, interventions, policies and practices conducted as part of a European Horizon 2020 project entitled Innovative Approaches to Urban Security (IcARUS). Scoping reviews of interventions in four focus areas – preventing juvenile delinquency, preventing organised crime and trafficking, preventing radicalisation leading to violent extremism, and the design and management of public spaces - were supplemented by interviews with international experts at the forefront of shaping the knowledge base during the period. Here, consideration is given to some broad trends, trajectories, persisting fault-lines and recurring challenges that feature over time and across jurisdictions. Despite divergent pathways, uneven developments and country-specific programmes that reflect political, cultural, legal/constitutional and economic differences, broad trends and developments are discernible. Against a backdrop of changes in the nature and level of crime and insecurity, the emergence of new harms and significant innovations in digitalisation and technologies, these include the growing importance of design features, place-based interventions, problem-oriented approaches, partnership relations, user engagement and gender implications. Finally, a number of enduring tensions that have restricted progress are explored including institutional responsibility for prevention, data sharing and the dissonance between the research knowledge base and contemporary policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-179
Number of pages12
JournalRassegna Italiana di Criminologia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2023

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