Catalonia to host urban security and inclusive cities conference

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Carles Puigdemont, the dismissed president of Catalonia, is said to be in Brussels. [EFUS]

Catalonia and Barcelona will host the sixth international conference on urban security and inclusive cities. President of the Government of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont Casamajó writes about how proud he is to host the conference.

Carles Puigdemont Casamajó was sworn in as the 130th president of the government of Catalonia on 12 January 2016. The government of Catalonia has been a member of the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) since 2008 and joined its Executive Committee in 2011.

The European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) is organising the sixth “Security, Democracy & Cities” international conference jointly with the Barcelona City Council and the government of Catalonia, on 15-17 November 2017, in Barcelona.

Titled “Co-producing Urban Security Policies”, this meeting will be focused on the main issues currently at play in the field of urban security and on the values and principles that should inform future public policies aimed at maintaining a level of security that allows citizens to freely enjoy their rights and strengthening social cohesion.

The results of the event will be important for Efus and all its members – more than 250 local and regional authorities – because those policies will contribute to maintain safety in the framework of a new Europe with the participation of all the relevant actors.

Life in our societies is becoming so complex that security and related policy-making now requires the commitment and active participation of many actors. Apart from the crucial responsibility of governments, all social actors and services should perform their role in order to contribute to a safer and more inclusive society.

As president of Catalonia, I am very honoured to host this international conference, which will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the city of Barcelona and the future security policies of the whole of Catalonia. This is all the more true that the principles advocated by Efus match perfectly those of Catalonia.

Citizens demand that institutions fulfil their role and responsibilities, but in our country they are also used to rise to whatever challenges they are faced with and to do their best to improve the different social areas, as shown by the vast number of civil society organisations operating throughout Catalonia.

Each time there is a need to be met, or some values or social activities to be promoted, new associations are set up. So hosting the Efus conference is fully coherent with Catalonia’s own values.

The government of Catalonia is aware that security, social cohesion and quality of life are linked and that it is difficult to tackle them separately. Thus, we have tried to develop a network within and outside the government to facilitate the collaboration of all the actors that may contribute to a safer and comfortable society.

This is why the government of Catalonia was a frontrunner in Spain in making it mandatory to have a general security plan for the whole of Catalonia.

Most of the ministers contributed to drafting this document. The Ministry of the Interior was the leading actor because it has jurisdiction over policing, emergencies and fire-fighting. The Ministry of Justice has also a role since it is in charge of prisons, among other responsibilities.

The Secretariat for Equality, Migrations and Citizenship performs a key role in the management of immigration and refugees. The Ministry of Health has a crucial role in the prevention of drug consumption. The Ministry of Education fosters civic values and safe behaviour among youngsters, and that of Social Welfare and Family supports people who belong to the most vulnerable groups.

In the same vein, the government of Catalonia was also the first to establish the yearly publication of a report on security, which includes police and crime victimisation survey data, as well as information on emergency, civil protection and private security companies.

After more than a decade we can conclude that both the general security plan and the annual report have been instrumental in increasing cooperation between the different levels of government, private companies, citizens, universities and associations.

In order to increase transparency, the Catalonia Police has recently made available online for the general public all the crime statistics and some additional information related to police activities and structures. This will not only contribute to a high level of transparency and accountability but also promote research, which I am sure will contribute to improving security policies.

The “Security, Democracy & Cities” conference is a great opportunity to share our experience and to get insight into new practices and trends that can help us further develop our tools to maintain security, prevent crime and foster participation and accountability.

This is why I would like to invite to the conference all the authorities, experts, researchers and technical personnel working in the security and justice areas, as well as other stakeholders who are interested. Moreover, participants will have the opportunity to visit a city and a country that will offer them hospitality and wonderful landscapes, architecture, art, culture, music and gastronomy.

I encourage you to feel Catalan for a few days and share this memorable experience with us!