Police departments in urban centres are being encouraged to have closer collaboration with local authorities and communities, thanks to a new initiative by UN-HABITAT and the Swedish National Police Board.
“This initiative, which is a first of this kind, will address sensitive issues of relationships between police and communities, the role of law enforcement in urban governance, management and planning, and the promotion of democratic policing in cities, and in particular in the context of slum upgrading,” UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said in a statement.
This collaboration has been made possible with support from the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (SIDA). Over the next three years, UN-HABITAT and Swedish National Police Board will work together to develop and implement a Police Platform for Urban Development which will support partnership between Police, Local Governments and communities. The platform is to be launched on the 5th October 2009 in Stockholm, Sweden, on Word Habitat Day.
According to Knut Dreyer from the Swedish Police, his organisation has a long tradition of working with local governments and communities for the prevention of crime and insecurity.
“We believe in democratic policing and have been working for many years in supporting the police in other countries to establish more community friendly practices, increase accountability and respect for human rights and establish local crime prevention strategies,” he said.
On his part Thomas Melin, a Senior Urban Advisor at SIDA said: we encourage positive police practices that focus on youth at risk and gender based violence. We believe that the role of the police in urban conflict management, including evictions and the design and management of public spaces and of transport systems, is critical. ”
Internationally, the police have played a limited role in urban development, and particularly so in developing countries. The experience of the Nordic Countries and their Model of Crime Prevention offer inspiration for new relationships to be developed and promoted.
Recent data from UN-HABITAT show that interventions to improve informal settlements rarely involve the police and in many cases insecurity and crime have hampered efforts of local governments and their partners in slum upgrading and community development.