Volunteer citizens engaged locally in policing activities

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How do volunteer citizens work with the police institutions? What is the scope of such engagement activities, and how can they be defined? Are local authorities supporting initiatives to engage citizens in patrolling, controlling and reassurance activities? What evaluation is available for existing projects? To what extent are these engagement initiatives transferable?

These questions are at the heart of the “Community Engagement for Civic Order Policing and Security” (CECOPS) European project, led by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). This project started in Febuary 2010 with a working seminar in London that enabled participants to learn more about the scheme for voluntary police officers in the MPS. It also presented the work of the “Street pastors”, volunteers focused on delivering responses to urban problems and engaging with people on the streets to “care, listen and dialogue”. A second seminar was held in Vilnius (Lithuania), in September, and was hosted by the “Teises Institutos” (Law institute). This meeting was dedicated to understanding the volunteering schemes linked to the police in Lithuania: the police supporters of Vilnius and the National Riflemen’s initiatives in Policing and Security. A civil society-led community building scheme for safer neighborhoods, based on the development of social capital (the “Republic of Užupi“) in one area of the city Vilnius, was also presented.

Further meetings are scheduled to take place in Padova and Bologna in Italy, as well as in Paris (France). Efus is looking for other initiatives of this type in order to present them at the Paris meeting in mid-December. Practices should focus on the engagement of citizens, as volunteers, in policing activities (in a broad sense of safety and security activities linked to the police institution). A guide of good practices will also be published and distributed at an international conference slated for September 2011. For more information please contact Mark Burton-Page