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Cachet, L., Hughes, G., Ponsaers, P. , Prins, R. (2011). “Fragmentation and Interconnection in Public Safety – Governance in Belgium, England and Wales and the Netherlands: Empirical Explorations and Imagined Futures”, in Criminology , Special Issue (October): Fear of Crime, A Comparative Approach in the European Context, Athens: Nomiki Bibliothiki, 81-92.



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1. Introduction
Providing public safety has been a traditional, legitimizing, core
task for the modern “sovereign“ state. Maintaining public order,
safety and fighting crime (if not explicitly the fear of crime) became
specialized tasks of professional keepers of the peace within the
state apparatus in the late 19th century across much of Western
Europe. For much of the twentieth century, security was seen as a
core function of the state, both normatively and empirically (Garland,
1996; Shearing and Wood, 2003). However, during the last decades
of the 20thcentury, highly formalized state control failed to answer
adequately the challenges, inter alia, of public order problems,
rapidly rising crime rates and concomitant heightened cultures of fear
of crime and disorder, and an even greater broadening of the already
capacious notion of public safety. New actors and organizations from
both public and private spheres tried to fill the gap by helping (local)
government authorities to satisfy the need for both greater public
safety and reduced fear of crime and disorder (thus the concept of
“fragmentation“ in the title of this paper). Across many contemporary
liberal democracies the nation- or central state monopoly on formal
control and enforcement partially broke down and the object of
governance was expanded far beyond traditional crime and public
order problems. However, both traditional as well as new providers
of public safety soon became aware of the need to co-operate
with one-another and with the public at large (thus the concept of
interconnection“ in the title of this paper). Co-operation on an
operational level was increasingly necessary primarily due to the
functional complexity of the problems and the institutional difficulty
of dealing with these according to the former strict division of labour
between actors. On a more administrative and political level, there
would appear logically to be the need for greater convergence in
actors, goals and accountability.
This paper deals with the seemingly contradictory trends of almost
simultaneous fragmentation and interconnection1 in the policy
1. The theme of “fragmentation and interconnection“ is borrowed from
the book project “Between fragmentation and connectedness. Public
domain of (local) public safety governance, which are present, albeit
unevenly, across the several European states under consideration
here. Public safety governance is understood here as all the actions
of relevant actors on the local level that are meant to establish public
safety and, of particular relevance to this Special Issue, reduce the fear
of crime, insecurity and disorder on the municipality level (Edwards
and Hughes, 2005, 2011).
The paper is organized as follows. We begin by analysing the recent
history and “career“ of public safety policies in each of the three
national cases of the Netherlands, Belgium, and England and Wales,
highlighting throughout the complex inter-play of the processes of
fragmentation and inter-connection throughout these narratives. We
then seek to decipher the comparative “master patterns“ emergent
across these cases and explore what the broader lessons that may
be drawn for policy agendas and ways of “imagining“ public safety
futures for these and similar societies.
2. Public safety governance
in the Netherlands
Half a century ago, community safety governance in the Netherlands
was a simple and almost invisibly enacted task2. Policy or politics
had no apparent significance whatsoever for the governance of
community safety. The number of actors involved was small and
political or societal debate about local safety almost nonexistent.
How different is today’s picture. Safety and security occupy prominent
places on the local and national political as well as broader societal
agendas. Community safety has become a highly politicized issue. On
the local level a large number of different actors is involved in keeping
the peace and controlling disorder or crime. Complexity reigns all
governance and the search for connective capacity” which is initiated
by A. van Buuren en M. Fenger at the Erasmus University Rotterdam (The
2. Still in line with Thorbecke, the great 19th century Dutch liberal statesman’s
dictum about the police: “we want a police that comes to our attention as
little as possible“.
Fragmentation and Interconnection in Public Safety
Governance in Belgium, England and Wales and the
Netherlands: Empirical Explorations and Imagined Futures
Dr. A. CACHET, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Prof. Dr. G. HUGHES, Cardiff University, Wales
Prof. Dr. P. PONSAERS, Ghent University, Belgium
R.S. PRINS, MSc Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands
This paper deals with the seemingly contradictory trends of almost simultaneous fragmentation and interconnection in the policy domain
of (local) public safety governance, which are present, albeit unevenly, across the several European states under consideration here. Public
safety governance is understood here as all the actions of relevant actors on the local level that are meant to establish public safety and,
of particular relevance t o this Special Issue, reduce the fear of crime, insecurity and disorder on the municipality level. The paper is or-
ganized as follows. We begin by analysing the recent history and “career“ of public safety policies in each of the three national cases of
the Netherlands, Belgium and England and Wales, highlighting throughout the complex inter-play of the processes of fragmentation and
inter-connection throughout these narratives. We then attempt to decipher the comparative “master patterns“ emergent across these
cases and what the broader lessons that may be drawn for policy agendas and ways of “imagining“ public safety futures for these and
similar societies.
82 CRIMINOLOGY (SPECIAL ISSUE) - OCTOBER 2011 A. CACHET/G. HUGHES/P. PONSAERS/R.S. PRINS – Αποκτήστε πλήρη online πρόσβαση στην Εγκληματολογία από το 2009
over. In this section we sketch summarily what happened during the
last decades and how it is today.
Change and stability
Traditionally crime and disorder were not issues of importance
in the political culture of Dutch society. “The authorities“ - in the
Dutch system, the local level mayor, public prosecutor and the police
- could easily cope with the total amount of crime and disorder. Full
enforcement was the rule. Safety governance was neither an issue in
politics nor in policy. The police and the system of criminal justice did
what they had to do and nobody worried about it.
Rather unexpectedly and suddenly Dutch society started to change
during the second half of the 1960s. Crime and disorder began to
rise rather fast. The until then taken for granted societal order – the
heavily “pillarized“ Dutch society (Lijphart, 1966; Goudsblom, 1967)
- became contested. Traditional keepers of peace, law and order were
not able to meet these new challenges adequately. During the next
years order problems kept growing but fast rising crime rates soon
became a more urgent problem during the 1970s and 1980s.
The rising crime tide (and the growing fears of crime and disorder)
effectively put an end to the fiction of full enforcement. From now on
authorities had to choose what to enforce and sanction and what not.
It led to a “revolution“. First in the juridical sphere, the introduction
of the “positive opportunity principle (“t Hart, 1994): enforce and
prosecute only if a public interest is involved and there is a reasonable
chance of success. Later on, much later, the choices that needed to be
made became part of more or less considered policies (Commissie
Peper, 1981), thus bringing political responsible authorities, like the
mayor, back in.
System under pressure
Rather early on in this period of “revolution“ Dutch authorities
became aware that government on its own never would be able
to cope effectively with the growing problems. Since the mid-
eighties the governance of local safety was no longer a monopoly
of the mayor, public prosecutor and the police. Many other actors
- housing corporations, schools, neighbourhood organizations,
storekeepers, welfare professions, community building and many
other organizations or citizens - are involved now. The dominant
perspective no longer is the hierarchy between the two local “bosses“
of the police - mayor and public prosecutor - and the police force.
Nowadays horizontal relations between many actors dominate the
local safety scene (Hoogenboom, 2009). But one should remember
however that even in the Netherlands the shift from top-down
“command and control“ towards more horizontal kinds of steering
and cooperation sometimes met with considerable resistance.
We describe the developments along three lines. First there is the
drastic fragmentation of the field. Many new actors enter the scene.
Then there is an increased need for explicit and politically accountable
steering of all these actors. Policy and politics enter the field. And at
last, but not least, new arrangements are introduced to (re)connect all
the actors that are involved in today’s local governance of safety.
Solutions causing problems.
The broad deployment of responsibilities for local safety among many
actors is meant to solve a problem: especially the problem of overload
of the police.
This is a problem that has manifested itself in the Netherlands ever
more urgently since the early 1980s. Other organizations than police
and criminal justice should share the burden. Sharing the burden
for the governance of local safety changed the scene from a closed,
insulated and rather orderly chain into an open and often highly
variable and difficult to assess network. Traditionally mayor and
public prosecutor maintained local peace and order with the help of
the police and criminal justice. As part of the local administration the
fire brigade also played a role and so did building inspectorates and
some other specialized offices within the administration. The system
mostly had a “chain-like“ character: the mayor giving instructions to
the police, the police bringing offenders to the public prosecutor and
through the latter’s office into the courts. The system was not open to
newcomers. Non-governmental actors did play a minor role.
Since the mid-1980s the governance of community or public safety
gradually expanded to encompass many governmental, quasi-
governmental and non-governmental actors. Shopkeepers were
obligated to protect their premises, football stadiums had to procure
their own safety (police being present only as backup, if need be),
private citizens were invited to make their homes burglar-proof.
Organizations entered into stable cooperative relations with the
police, to ensure safety in business parks, to bring youthful offenders
back on the right path, to prevent the deterioration of neighborhoods
or to solve conflicts between neighbors.
The resulting landscape is one of horizontally linked more or less
autonomous organizations. Networks encompassing many different
types of organizations, where hierarchy or hierarchical steering (and
accountability) is almost lacking (Terpstra en Kouwenhoven, 2004).
Local government and the police, however, still occupy special
positions within these kinds of network, not in the least based on
the police’s legal possibilities to use coercive power (Hoogenboom,
2009). But local government cannot depend any longer on traditional
command and control steering. Most of the organizations involved
are autonomous towards local government. For good and bad,
traditional kinds of steering must give way to more governance-
oriented ones.
Ordering complexity: increased steering.
The fast rising demand for order maintenance and crime control
made public safety governance a much more visceral political activity
(cf. Reiner, 1985). Choices had to be made about what to do and what
not to do. Political administrators now had to be accountable for the
choices that were made. The burden of choice could not be left to
operational executive police officers. Much that was left implicit in the
past now had to become explicit. In the Netherlands (and elsewhere,
for example, Belgium) the need for explicit and accountable choices
led to the rise of an elaborate system of police and safety planning or
policy formation.
The notion of police and safety planning and policy was introduced
during the second half of the 1980s (Commissie Peper, 1981). Both
police and safety planning gradually became more important. Police
planning was stimulated by the 1994 Police Reform that introduced
larger and more rationally steered police forces. From the early
1990s on national government also helped local governments
to develop local safety policies of their own (IVR 1993 a.o.; Nota
Veiligheidsbeleid, 1995, VER3). Gradually - large cities earlier than
smaller cities and villages - many local communities introduced local
safety policy plans, also known as integrated safety policy plans
(e.g. SGBO, 2000). At the same time however national government
began to introduce programs to strengthen its own steering of the
police and (local) safety (mostly through plans like BNP and IVP). So
the overall amount of planning and steering of police and safety in
general increased drastically. Tensions between national and local
steering and control also increased. We can observe these trends also
3. VER is short for Veiligheid Effect Rapportage (Safety Effect Report), a scan like
instrument that is used to asses ex ante the safety and security risks of in-
tended developments in urban planning, housing, infrastructure etc.
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in other Western European countries (Cachet, Van Sluis, a.o.: 2009;
Cachet en Prins, 2010; Hughes, 2007, Edwards and Hughes 2009).
For a very long time police and police planning dominated the safety
field. Only rather recently (decade of 2000s) did the public prosecutor’s
office and local government really became genuine partners of the
police in the planning of community safety. Nowadays all parties
are convinced that the accountable authorities – mayor and public
prosecutor – should be in the lead where local policy development and
implementation is at stake. Despite these developments it seems that
police leadership in the governance of local safety remains dominant.
The police force still exclusively is the owner of a lot of information
needed in policy development processes. The police are also the first
of all public authorities feel the urgency of safety problems (and fears
over crime and safety) and the need to intervene. Furthermore policy
development by police, public prosecutor and local government still
does not seem to be co-ordinated well. Drastic shifts in the timing of
these policy cycles are needed to guarantee adequate co-ordination
between the separate policy cycles (De Pee, 2010). Improved and
more co-ordinated kinds of policy planning seem to be a necessary but
not a sufficient instrument to bring together the many organizations
- governmental as well as non-governmental - that are involved in the
governance of local safety today.
This explains why we are not really surprised to see other mechanisms
for bringing together all these different actors in a joint effort to
improve community safety. The most important complementary
mechanism is the development of new institutional arrangements
between actors.
Ordering complexity: new arrangements
For a long time the system of public administration in the Netherlands
has been characterized by three layers of government: national
government, the provinces and local governments (in 2010 appr. 430).
As far as police and public safety is concerned provincial governments
never played a role of any importance. National and local government
both became more important during the last decades. Nevertheless
there can be serious doubts about the integrative powers of these
two levels of government versus the tremendous fragmentation of
the police and safety field which we sketched above.
Traditional arrangements do not seem to be able to bridge
effectively the gaps between the many different actors that are
nowadays involved in the development and execution of community
safety governance. Since the mid-1990s many new institutional
arrangements have been introduced to steer and control the
governance of safety. Most of the formal legal arrangements are
located on a supra-local or regional level (Police region and Safety
region). But there are also many new arrangements on the local
level that lack a strictly legal basis but are important nevertheless.
“Police regions“, for example, were introduced in the Police Law
1993. “Safety regions“ - meant to cope with crises and large
accidents - were introduced very recently. Although both are based
on specific laws and not on the WGR – the Dutch law on inter-urban
cooperation - they nevertheless share many characteristics with
WGR arrangements. Most important of these is their weak, indirect,
democratic legitimacy. Police and Safety regions are administered
by mayors only4. The 1993 Police Law leaves the police regions
ample room for the internal ordering of their region. Most regions
are subdivided in a number of districts: each a part of a large city, an
entire middle-sized city or a number of adjoining smaller towns. In
4. “Only“, while the Dutch mayor is not directly elected by the citizens but ap-
pointed by the Home Office or the national cabinet. During the past years,
however, city councils influence on who is appointed increased drastically,
ensuring a minimum of democratic legitimacy for the appointed mayor.
a kind of district council the mayor(s), the district public prosecutor
and the relevant police chief coordinate their actions and policies.
This is probably the most important co-ordination device, although
it is lacking a firm legal base. Decisions taken on the district level may
have a lot of consequences for the local governance of safety.
Insofar as the governance of local safety is dealt with, the police have
long been in the lead, as we mentioned before. More recently we see
the Police Act 1993 being used to broaden the responsibilities for the
governance of public safety. Police regions do such by introducing
mostly temporary but always informal arrangements within which
police, public prosecutor and local government take an equal share in
policy development and implementation on the local level.
In many police regions (temporary) committees provide other
examples of efforts to share responsibilities between police, public
prosecutor and especially local government. These committees are
charged mostly with the temporary but important task within the
region of, for example, drawing up proposals for reduction of the
number of districts, for redeploying manpower or for necessary cuts in
expenditures. These kinds of measures can have serious impact on the
governance of safety in each separate town. Therefore it is important
to involve local government early and actively in decision-making
processes that might lead to cuts in police assistance or redistribution
of police efforts. Informal arrangements help to smooth the
functioning of the formal police region and bring together the many
actors that are participating in the local safety networks (Huberts,
2004; Terpstra en Kouwenhoven, 2004).
On the local level itself there is also a need for new arrangements.
After all the fragmentation and increasing complexity of the
governance of local safety is being felt especially on that level. One
way to do this is to bring them together in new and mostly informal
arrangements. Working closely together within an arrangement like
the judicial case consultation, as it is called in Rotterdam, on youthful
offenders - meant to withhold them from a more serious criminal
career by offering early and integrated intervention (cf Doodkorte,
2004 ) - will hopefully breed trust and the willingness to continue and
intensify cooperation.
Working with so-called intervention teams in the city of Rotterdam
is another example of bringing together many different actors to
execute jointly a complex common task (see also Tops a.o., 2007)
Intervention teams, introduced in 2001, consist of representatives of
various local authorities, such as the department of safety and security,
social care, employment and urban housing as well as the police.
These teams pay unexpected visits to local homes and buildings in
order to signal and address problems such as illegal housing, citizens
illegally receiving governmental support, and violation of fire safety
measurements. Although there is some critique on the violation of
private spheres, nevertheless local politicians and administrators
considered this instrument combining enforcement of law and social
care effective and efficient. Over the years, intervention teams have
been expanded with more actors and consequentially topics, such as
tax agencies and private electricity companies.
Making many work together: direction
Governmental organizations on different levels are involved in the
development and execution of local safety policies (Prins and Cachet,
2009). But many semi-governmental or even non-governmental
or private actors are involved too. Bringing them all together and
steering and co-ordinating their actions in accordance with agreed
upon safety policies is a new and challenging governance task for
local government. Hierarchical top down steering will not do the job
any longer due to the quite extensive autonomy most organizations
cherish. Local government now has to bring the many different actors
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together, to convince them, seduce them etc. Local government is not
totally in command.
In the Dutch “consensual“ democracy it has always been rather
difficult to have decisions being made and - even more importantly
- implemented. Neither policy nor new arrangements guarantee that
now in themselves. Nevertheless (local) governance of security now
needs direction (in Dutch: regie) more than ever: that is leadership
that brings together the many actors in a heavily fragmented field
and makes them work towards joint goals. In the Netherlands, like
in many other countries, many people ask for strong and decisive
leadership by local government and especially the mayor to avoid
standstill or deadlock (Karsten, Cachet and Schaap, 2010). In many
ways Dutch mayors now provide that kind of leadership. Unlike
for example in England and Wales, Dutch mayors play a substantial
rather than a merely symbolic role. Some of them primarily use their
own personal, charismatic, authority, like for example former mayors
in Rotterdam (Opstelten; cf Tops, 2007) and Maastricht (Leers). Others
use their traditional position as an appointed official “above“ political
parties. They also use traditional powers with respect to public order
and safety that Dutch mayors have based on many laws (Muller a.o.,
2007) but especially on the municipal law (Gemeentewet). Direction
also is exercised as a consequence of many new powers that were
attributed by national government to mayors, during the past decade
(Sackers, 2010). And at this current moment Dutch government is
considering a bill to give these kinds of direction a formal basis in law.
Preliminary conclusions
The number of different actors involved in developing and executing
local safety policies has increased tremendously. Increasing
pressures due to a rather large increase in order and safety problems
certainly played a role. But a general tendency in society and public
administration towards differentiation, division of labor and
specialization also contributed. Rather simple and easily manageable
chains were replaced by complex, difficult to survey and much more
difficult manageable networks. This fragmentation of law and order
maintenance or governance of safety increased the need for well-
considered ordering and steering of so many actors.
3. Public safety governance in Belgium
From 1830 on, the year in which Belgium became independent, the
problem of safety was considered as a national task, as well as a local
one. This balance of power between national and local policy was to
a large extent the heritage of the Napoleonic period.
On the one hand, the existence of a “municipal autonomy“ is a central
theme in Belgian history. Local democracy is considered important
for the maintenance of public order in terms of public tranquillity,
safety and health. Municipal election culminates in the formation of a
coalition, which translates itself in a majority that delivers the mayor.
In other words mayors are not designated by the crown (as e.g. in the
Netherlands), but are the emanation of local elections in Belgium. The
mayor is personally responsible for public order in the municipality.
This is the reason why the mayor personally is considered as the
authority of the local police.
On the other hand, national government is considered as responsible
for safety and public order throughout the country. In this context
reference is mostly made to interventions at the occasion of
mass events, demonstrations and riots. In this respect, national
police forces (the “gendarmerie national“) acted in the past as the
“praetorian guard“ of the state and the democratic regime. In relation
to this task, mobility was a crucial factor. National forces displaced
themselves from their barracks at the border of big cities to other
(more rural) municipalities on the territory, to maintain public order.
After the police reform of 1998, this relation changed dramatically.
Table 1: Comparison of territories on which administrative
and judicial authorities are competent
Country Federal government Council of Attorney-
Region Regional government
Territory of the Court
of Appeal Attorney-General
Province Governor
Territorial Jurisdiction Public Prosecutor
police zone
President of the
Police Council
police zone Mayor
Apart from this dominant balance of power, some specific chara-
cteristics of the Belgian institutional framework determine to a large
extent the way safety governance gets its shape. Let us examine
Lack of interconnectedness of traditional functions
The Napoleonic conception of safety in “administrative“ and
“judicial“ functions is still one of the fundamental features of the state
organisation (see table 1). The Belgian territory is divided differently
according to both functionalities. It is remarkable and particular that
the levels of geographical aggregation do not coincide at any level
at all. The consequence hereof is that administrative and judicial
authorities have no counterpart on the same geographical scale. The
smallest scale in this organisational framework is the municipality.
Systematic consultation between administrative and judicial
authorities is only installed at the level of the police zone and at the
national level. After the police reform of 1998, the police system was
redesigned at both levels.
At the federal level, the former supra-local branches of the “national
gendarmerie“ and the “criminal police“ were integrated in the
federal police, in essence as support-units for the global police
system. Important parts of this federal police were deconcentrated
to the level of a territorial jurisdiction (n=27). We can find here the
federal investigating police and the federal co-ordination of public
order maintenance. It is at federal level that the national security plan
is developed, in the federal police council, implying representatives
of all administrative and judicial authorities. After the drafting of the
plan, the Ministers of Interior and of Justice give their approval and
the plan is submitted to Parliament.
At the local level, the municipal police was transformed into a local
(zonal) police (n=196), absorbing parts of the local branches of the
former gendarmerie. The territory of a police zone is in average an
aggregation of three municipalities. In bigger cities a zone is identical
to the territory of the city (mono-municipal zones), in more rural areas
a zone contains more municipal territories (pluri-municipal zones). It
is at this zonal level that local security plans are developed, implying
the mayor(s), the public prosecutor, the chief of the local police and
a delegate of the federal police. Zonal security plans have to take
into account the priorities set by the national security plan. They can
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include new local priorities or exclude national priorities, as long as
this decision is substantiated.
Table 2: Relationship between local and federal plans
safety (sensu
Federal Integral
Safety Plan ???
Police Security
(sensu stricto)
National Security
Local (zonal) Security Plan
Both security plans (local and national) have their legal base in the
new law on the integrated police (1998). A legal base on an integral
safety policy, broader than mere police matters, does not exist in
Belgium (Ponsaers, 2001a). In spite of that, recent governments took
the initiative to draw federal in tegral safety plans after national
elections during the formation of a new coalition. These plans tried
to cover a much broader safety domain, outside the strict policing
approach. On a local level such an integral safety policy is neither
legally based, nor often applied (Ponsaers, 2001b). Local integral
safety plans are exceptions, but exist. If they are formulated, they
focus on the municipality and not on the broader territory of the
zone, voted by the municipal council.
Fragmentation of the state
Since 1970 Belgium has evolved more and more towards a federal
state. A lot of former national competences were delegated to
the level of the three regional governments, which do not have by
necessity the same political composition as federal government.
Contradictory to the state-reform, at the occasion of the police-
reform in 1998, the political class did not decide to install a regional
police system, familiar to, for example, the German system. One
of the scarce national competences stayed with the police, under
supervision of the federal Ministers of Interior and of Justice.
Nevertheless, a lot of competences that are interconnected with the
broader problem of safety (e.g. traffic, environment, medical and
therapeutic care for drug users and minors and such like) are situated
at regional level. Political consultation between the federal and
regional level is problematic. This is one of the main reasons why local
integral safety plans are difficult to develop, and are dependent on
parallel federal and regional steering.
Local patchwork of safety agencies
At the municipal level a patchwork of safety agencies developed
during recent years, relatively independently from the security
infrastructure on the level of the police zone (Ponsaers, 2005). In
first instance, the federal ministry of Interior concludes periodically
so-called safety and prevention contracts with different cities. These
contracts provide substantial additional funding for preventive
measures and support for the development of local integral safety
measures. Within the framework of these contracts, a multitude of
new safety functions was created. A number of these functions can be
situated on the level of co-ordination, policy support and evaluation.
These functions are to a large extent created as an interface between
the local police force of the zone and municipal administrations
(e.g. infrastructure, social wellbeing, mobility, neighbourhood
development). Recently a few cities created the political mandate
of “deputy mayor of integral safety“. These experiments were
considered as failures because these deputies trespassed regularly
their political competence and broke in to the competences of other
deputy mayors. Today these coordination functions are increasingly
taken over by municipal functionaries without political mandate and
financed in the framework of the safety and prevention contracts,
but with a large degree of decision making power, getting political
coverage by the mayor himself. Their job is considered as a transversal
function, running through the global municipal administration.
Nonetheless, in more rural areas, it is the zonal police chief who stays
the centre of local safety leadership (Bisschop et al., 2010).
Increased local functional surveillance
Besides that, most of these functions are executive jobs in public
space (e.g. stewards, animators, city guards, city coaches, municipal
supervisors, etc.) (Verwee et al., 2007). To a large extent, these
functions aim to increase local social cohesion and control, which
can be summarized as forms of “functional surveillance“ on public
transport, social housing blocks, trade centres, public gardens,
shopping malls, etc. During the last period of office, federal
government tried to regroup this multitude of functions into one
category, the so-called “community guards“. To a certain degree,
these guards execute tasks that are considered as traditional tasks of
the police, more precisely those of the officer on the beat. The local
(zonal) police attempts to decrease these low-profile surveillance
activities, advocating that they do not represent central police tasks.
In acting so, the police decreases the opportunities to contact the
local population, essential within a community (oriented) policing
(COP) approach, while COP is precisely considered as the main and
official vision on policing in Belgium (Vandevoorde et al, 2003). Some
observers argue in the meanwhile that these guards can be considered
as the anticipation of a new form of municipal police (see the similar
development of “police community support officers“ in England and
Wales under the umbrella of the “new neighbourhood, reassurance
policing in 200s, Hughes and Rowe, 2007 and below).
Regional policies co-exist
The federal contract policy of the Ministry of Interior is partly
sustained on regional level. The regions of Brussels and Wallonia
contract as well with cities in the framework of safety and crime
prevention. This is not the case in Flanders, where the regional
administration develops itself a own city policy, more directed
towards welfare, well-being, quality of life and liveability, resulting
in a even more pronounced proliferation of new functions. Here we
can find functions as mediators, street corner workers, educators,
therapists and social workers, situated in the broad domain of safety.
This specific positioning in Flanders leads more frequently to frictions
between the police and these new functions, who are not eager to
share their professional information on “clients“ or “buddies“ with
the police. Cooperation between these two groups, more precisely on
the level of information exchange, is manifestly hindered by opposite
professional ideologies. It is clear that two contradictory logics
(federal and regional) co-exist on local level.
The local level: bridge between traditional functions
In recent years, federal government developed an important
new instrument for local safety policy : the so-called “Municipal
Administrative Sanctions“ (MAS) (Devroe et al., 2007). This system
provides municipalities the opportunity to decree regulations on
the territory of the municipality (and thus not of the police zone)
concerning forms of incivilities and small forms of social disorder.
MAS permits municipalities to report these nuisances and to sanction
them in an administrative way(mostly with a fine), which means that
it is the municipal administration that can treat these cases outside
the penal court. In some cases the public prosecutor can intervene,
in others not. The reporting of the violations of the municipal
regulations can be realized by the police, but can also be handed
over to municipal functionaries, as e.g. the “community guards“
(see supra). Evaluation studies suggest that in most of the cases the
workload in the framework of MAS is realised by the local police
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(90%). MAS has been massively implemented and applied during last
years by municipalities, most dominantly by bigger cities. Again the
MAS-instrument functions as communicating vessels between the
local police and new municipal safety functions, which increases to a
large extend the fragmented picture of the local safety approach.
Preliminary conclusions
In Belgium, both fragmentation and interconnectedness of the
safety infrastructure on the local level can be observed. Most of
the time, these characteristics are articulated in relation to the
local police. At the same time, it is clear that there is an important
interconnectedness with federal and regional policy. In spite of the
fact that the regional level has no formal competences in the domain
of security, the broader integral safety approach is (partially) adopted
and has important consequences for the development of local safety
networks and infrastructure. Formal co-ordination between federal
and regional operational arrangements is left to a large extent to the
discretion of local mayors.
It is clear that the problems related to this local texture do not situate
themselves in the heart of the organisations and in the hard core of
the competences of administrative and judicial authorities. Problems
arise when safety is geared to other geographical levels or other
institutional settings (Ponsaers, 2010). The problem is not to realise
the regular security tasks, it becomes complicated when there is a
shift between levels and institutions.
It is precisely at the organisational boundaries and geographical limits
that not enough effort is invested to manage comfortably operational
cooperation, consultation and information exchange. To “handle“
safety is rather common, to “hand it over“ is much more problematic.
Local safety councils do exist on the level of police zones, but they
only include mayors, public prosecutors and police representatives. A
more extensive process of co-ordination with other actors in the field
of the broad integral public safety is not formalised. This is also the
case on the intermediate level between the federal and zonal police,
where so-called co-ordinators (as well in relation to criminal matters
and administrative matters) function exclusively inside the police-
4. Public Safety Governance in England
and Wales5
Developments with regard to the governance of local public safety
in England in the past three decades point to both intense bouts of
“political inventiveness“ and consequences which may be termed
“governmental instabilities“ (Hughes 2007, Edwards and Hughes,
2009). In turn they are boldly illustrative of the simultaneous
centripetal and centrifugal processes in the late modern “managerial
state“ (Clarke and Newman, 1997) or what we term fragmentation
and interconnectedness in this paper.
The crisis of traditional criminal justice approaches to crime and
The last decades of the twentieth century witnessed a growing strain
on the criminal justice system. The combined crisis of the criminal
5. Note it is impossible to discuss whole of the UK or indeed England and
Wales as if they are synonymous and illustrative of what is often (incor-
rectly) termed the “Anglo-Saxon“ model of crime prevention and commu-
nity safety. Given the uneven processes of political devolution across the UK,
comparative analysis of community safety, youth justice and the preventive
turn across localities is itself indicative of the dual occurrence of fragmenta-
tion and interconnectedness in this burgeoning policy field (see Edwards and
Hughes, 2009, Goldson and Hughes, 2010).
justice system’s and welfare state’s responses to crime and disorder
was captured by the following indicators:
the increasing rate of recorded crime and the numbers of people
passing through the different parts of the system;
overload combined with a crisis of efficiency (e.g. the declining
clear-up rates of the police, overloaded courts and the overcrowding
of prisons);
a growing awareness of extensive social and economic costs of
crime; and, crucially, the increasing recognition that formal processes
of criminal justice (i.e. detection, apprehension, prosecution,
sentencing and punishment of offenders) have only a limited effect
on controlling crime (Hughes and McLaughlin, 2002).
In response to the widespread acknowledgement of this crisis of
criminal justice as well as state-run social welfare approaches to
crime and disorder, two preventive ways of thinking, or “logics“,
have come to the fore since the 1980s and become embedded in
much of the work of local community safety partnerships, namely
situational crime prevention and social crime prevention (Hughes,
1998). Situational crime prevention - for which “British model is
famous, chiefly concerns “designing out“ crime via opportunity
reduction, such as the installation of preventive technologies like
CCTV and “alley gates“ in both private and public spaces. Social
crime prevention, on the other hand, is focused chiefly on changing
targeted social environments and the motivations of offenders, and
promoting “community“ development initiatives. Common to both
elements of situational and social crime prevention is their claim to
be both less damaging and more effective (because “proactive“) than
traditional (reactive “law and order“) criminal justice approaches.
Community safety: the career of a free-floating signifier
Let us examine in brief the particular career of community safety in
England since the 1980s. The origins of community safety in the
1980s are suggestive of the mixed parentage of this policy signifier.
We should note, for example, the very first appropriations of the
term by “radical“ Metropolitan Police Authorities in the late 1970s
and early 1980s who formulated local community safety plans as a
self-conscious counterweight to the perceived narrow and repressive
public police-driven notions of public safety. However, the real
political and policy turning point at the national dimension in this
decade was the Home Office Circular 8/84: this document being the
first explicit official recognition of the limits to “go-it-alone“, policing
and the capacity of constabularies to effectively prevent problems
of crime without drawing on the resources (including different
expertises) of other key statutory partners and the wider public.
The technique of “inter-connected“ multi-agency, co-ordinated
partnership working was thus promoted as a means of overcoming
isolated service responses and in turn probable fragmentation of
service delivery.
The next key moment in community safety’s recent history was the
1991 Morgan Report Delivering Safer Communities (Home Office,
1991) with its social democratic ambition to conceptualise and
manage holistically and inter-connectedly crime and disorder, and
fear of crime and disorder, and their deeper roots in sensibilities
regarding local safety. This ambitious policy project sought to
promote “safer communities“ through creative, democratically
sensitive partnership arrangements led by local authorities rather
than the police. This report reflected an emergent consensus amongst
academics and policy-makers that the ideal approach to prevention
combines a package of both precipitating factors and predisposing
influences. Equally importantly it gave the new approach a nationally-
recognisable “brand name“, community safety. However, its ambition
to “knock“ the police off its dominant pedestal was never achieved in
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subsequent legislation and policy developments over the subsequent
twenty years.
Following the Morgan agenda which was widely and influentially,
if unevenly and in often fragmented ways, taken up locally, the
third key moment in the recent history of community safety in
England and Wales was the Crime and Disorder Act (CDA) in
1998. In retrospect the CDA helped inaugurate the “New“ Labour
governments“ “modernisation“ project associated with the three
appeals to managerialism, governance through partnership, and
communitarianism between 1997-2010 (Hughes, 2007, Edwards and
Hughes, 2009). This period witnessed both linguistic turns and policy
decisions to shift the focus from “community safety“ to “crime and
disorder reduction“ made tangible as locally calculable yet centrally
defined, targeted performance measures. This focus was further
consolidated in the decade of 2000s by the much publicised flood
of further crime and anti-social behaviour legislation alongside a
communitarian-inspired crusade around “Respect“ and the drive for
moral authoritarian interventions against anti-social behaviour and to
address public fears of crime and disorder (see Hughes 2007: 119-25).
Scientism and populism in community safety work
CSPs and their key actors provide a particularly useful empirical focus
for research into evidence-based practice and the use of scientific
intelligence in crime control and policing. This is because these
actors have been publicly exhorted and explicitly required, following
cognate developments in “intelligence led policing“ (Maguire
and John, 2006), to organise control around the identification,
measurement, interpretation and reduction of patterns of offending
and victimisation; to adopt, in the argot of the Home Office, an
“intelligence-led“ and “problem-oriented“ approach1 that explicitly
requires controllers to relate “rational“, “scientific“ crime control
theory to local practice.
Community safety strategies represent embattled experiments
in governing crime and disorder “beyond“ the state. Leading
commentators on the preventive turn in crime control identify the
prominence of community safety in the control talk of advanced
liberal democracies (Garland, 2001, Hughes 2007). In holding out
the promise of a rational, problem-solving approach, these strategies
have been counterpoised to the punitive populism of much crime
control politics. However, concerns about the capacity of community
safety partnerships to facilitate a rational-scientific, problem-oriented
approach, in part revealed through the experience of the Home
Office Crime Reduction Programme (1999-2002) resulted in a major
review of their work in the mid-2000s The explicit aim of this review
was to improve performance through the establishment of several
national minimum standards, later watered down to recommended
“hallmarks“ of successful partnership working.
The Home Office review team (supported by criminological experts,
including one of the authors here), concluded that there was some
telling, even damning, deficits across a range of dimensions to
community safety work. The main concerns were grouped around two
perceived “deficits“. On the one hand, it was noted that leadership,
organisational, and analytical capacities were underdeveloped if
not deficient in most community safety partnerships (CSPs). Despite
a decade of Home Office advocacy of evidence-based problem-
solving, it was recognised that adoption of this “scientific“ approach
had been limited “on the ground“ locally. On the other hand, CSPs
were also seen to be failing in terms of their “engagement“ of local
communities in crime control, in order to focus government around
the concerns and priorities of citizens . This perceived failure in
populist communitarian co-production of improved safety and justice
provoked a major report into citizen engagement led by Louise Casey,
policy advisor to the Labour administration in Westminster (Cabinet
Office, 2008)2.
The Home Office Review reveals a basic tension between the rational-
bureaucratic drivers of crime control, epitomised in the narratives of
“crime science“, and a populist-democratic concern with community
engagement and citizen-focussed government epitomised by Casey’s
report and Blair’s communitarianism. This tension can be discerned
throughout the six hallmarks of best practice that were recommended
by the Review and especially with regard to (ii) and (iv) below:
i) empowered and effective leadership;
ii) intelligence-led business processes;
iii) effective and responsive delivery structures;
iv) engaged communities;
v) visible and constructive accountability; and
vi) appropriate skills and knowledge.
These six hallmarks were designed originally to “establish a
consistent approach to partnership working across all CSPs and
for which compliance was to be compulsory“ (Home Office, 2006).
In themselves, these hallmarks remain valuable standards for
partnerships to aspire towards; unfortunately there would be no
additional resources made available to CSPs for attaining these
demanding standards of public service. Furthermore, the tension
between the rational-bureaucratic and populist-democratic impulses
behind the Home Office Review continues to characterize not just the
work of community safety partnerships but criminal justice policy
more broadly in England and Wales.
“Crime control“ or “social policy“? Local public safety as a “hybrid“
Local public safety as a policy approach sits at the intersection of
attempts by the state to deliver both welfare and security, and
policing and control in local communities (Hughes, 2009). It was
noted earlier that community safety first emerged in the 1980s
as a local government strategy that sought to move beyond the
traditionally police-driven agenda of crime prevention. Apart from
seeking to involve other “social“ agencies in crime prevention and
in turn moving from single to multi-agency, or inter-connected
activities, community safety has also been associated with more
aspirational claims. One particular claim has been to generate greater
participation and leadership or perhaps more accurately attempted
“responsibilisation“ from residential communities in promoting
“quality of life“ not just tackling those social harms classified as
“crimes” . As a long-term outcome, community safety is often linked
to the “communitarian“ ambition of replacing fragile, atomised,
fearful and insecure communities with ones confident enough
to take responsibility for their own safety. At the same time, in the
national politics of the 1990s and 2000s in Britain, “creating safer
communities“ has been a crucial component of the former, pre-2010,
Labour administration’s promotion of policies that could be “tough
on crime, tough on the causes of crime“. In this sense, community
safety straddles the fault line of repressive crime control (“tough on
crime“) and more preventive, welfare-oriented, interventions (“tough
on the causes of crime“).
The local institutional architecture of community safety in England
and Wales
In the discussion that follows the main features of the institutional
infrastructure of community safety are sketched in brief. As will be
evident from the earlier discussion, it is difficult to deny that there
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has been a highly prescriptive and directive central government
agenda from Whitehall shaping of the contemporary local
preventive infrastructure in England, and to a lesser extent and less
“successfully“, in Wales6 throughout the first decade of the 2000s .
This is indicative of a “sovereign“ state strategy which stresses greater
central control (“steering“) alongside both the diffusion and probable
fragmentation of responsibility for the delivery of crime control and
the promotion of safer communities (“rowing“) to a wide array of
agencies and groups, both public and private, voluntary and statutory
in character (Hughes, 2007).
Between 1998 and 2008 all 376 statutory partnerships in England and
Wales were legally obliged and empowered to:
carry out audits of local crime and disorder problems;
consult with all sections of the local community;
publish three year crime and disorder reduction strategies based on
the findings of the audits;
identify targets and performance indicators for each part of the
strategy, with specified time scales;
publish the audit, strategy and the targets;
report annually on progress against the targets.
Since 2009 community safety partnerships are no longer required
to produce tri-annual strategies but instead must produce annual
strategic assessments of their shared local priorities.
Most community safety partnerships (CSPs) have been characterised
by very similar formal organisational structures. For example, there
is a formal strategic/operational division; there are usually specific
thematic or geographically based “action“ teams; the key statutory
partners or “responsible“ authorities are made up of public agencies
ranging from the local authority, police, fire, police authority, health
and (since 2010) probation alongside co-opted agencies from both the
statutory and voluntary sector. The key promoter of this partnership
working and its “joined-up“ expertise, has been de facto if not de jure,
the local community safety manager in the local authority (Hughes
and Gilling, 2004; Hughes, 2007). Meanwhile, the “community“
is usually presented in the local strategies as a spatial and moral
concept, emphasising locality and belonging and unity (albeit across
consensual diversity in terms of life style, cultural identity etc).
However, there is also a common tendency to place certain groups
outside the community due to their “anti-social“ activities, pointing
to the key role of boundary and exclusion in representations of
community. In turn, the community is usually “passively“ present in
terms of being “consulted“ rather than an active participant in the
planning and delivery of community safety (Hughes 2009).
The primary focus of community safety partnerships (CSPs) in terms
of their stated priorities since the CDA has thus been on crime and
disorder (and fear of crime) reduction rather than more broadly
defined “harm reduction and safety promotion“. On the surface this
suggests that CSPs are primarily engaged in local crime control rather
than social policy work. However the actual outcomes of such control
work may be preventive in character rather than purely repressive
and enforcement-oriented when examined in terms of its problem-
solving orientation and when studied empirically “on the ground“
(Hughes, 2007).
Such processes have seen an ever increasing number of multi-agency
community safety teams - managers, officers, project workers,
police secondees, “drug action/substance misuse teams“, anti-social
6. The story of Wales is in important ways distinct from that of England, not
least to the partial devolution of power to the Welsh Assembly. For a fuller
discussion, see Edwards and Hughes, 2008, 2009.
behaviour units etc. - which now form an increasingly salient, if still
fragile, part of local government structures and processes7. As a
relatively novel set of institutions and experts, community safety
work appeared set to remain a key feature of the local governance of
crime, disorder and security in England until the current public sector
expenditure cuts by a rampant neo-liberal government. Even before
these cut-backs there are major challenges that lie in wait, not least
those associated with innovations in the local policing of the terror
threat and “radicalisation“; additionally, tensions exist with regard
to the nature and form of neighbourhood policing and the uneasy,
unstable and fragmented relations between such “public police“
initiatives and local government-led community safety, multi-agency
policy (see Hughes and Rowe, 2007).
Unsettling the “nation“ as a unit of analysis
The negotiation of, and resistance to the central government policy
agenda on local public safety is apparent at the local sites of policy
implementation across England and Wales. This finding alerts us to
the importance of the “sub-national“ as brought to life in specific
geo-historical contexts and local practices and politics in situ, which
at times results in new trends in both fragmentation and inter-
connectivity. For example, comparative, trans-local research on
English CSPs (Hughes and Gilling, 2004, Hughes, 2007) showed that
the occupation and work of community safety managers was often a
tortuous process of bargaining between implacable, fragmented local
partners, especially with regard to the politically visceral and culturally
emotive issue of governing young people’s use of public space. In
occupying this position, community safety managers were not in
a position to act as some simple interlocutor for the Home Office’s
“crime and disorder“ agenda, or foot-soldier for the Government’s
“Respect“ unit, if they wanted to retain the involvement of those
partners primarily concerned with the welfare of children and young
people. Such uneven contestation emphasises the local political
agency of community safety managers and the partnerships they co-
ordinate, the consequences of which cannot be articulated within the
smooth narratives of disorder that have predominated in both official
and academic discourses (Edwards and Hughes, 2009).
Preliminary conclusions
The recent history of community safety as policy and practice in
England and Wales confirms supports the simultaneous processes
of both fragmentation and interconnection previously observed
in the cases of Belgium and the Netherlands. There is no denying
that the terrain of local crime control has been reshaped in the last
three decades across Britain, not least given the rise to prominence
of local multi-agency community safety partnerships. The public
police are no longer the sole arbiter of public safety and local
authorities have certainly joined the police in what we may term
the dominant “duopoly“ for managing public safety today. At the
same time, conflicts and power struggles between agencies and
authorities remain, both intra-locally and between local and national
government bodies. The terrain and what may be termed “the
preventive turn“ (Edwards and Hughes, 2009) in England and Wales
is thus characterized by both fragmentation and inter-connectedness
and with all the future challenges this implies for policy and practice
and the role of social science in the crafting of a new governmental
7. At the time of writing this and given severe cutbacks in the public sector by
the Coalition Government in this era of austerity (at least for most citizens,
excluding bankers and such like), the future of such teams is precarious and
indeed is the local infrastructure of community safety more broadly.
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5. Deciphering the challenges
of fragmentation & interconnectedness
and imagining new public safety agendas
The following overview presents an explicitly “ideal-typical“
overview of the emergent features of the new public safety regime
emergent in the three countries we have examined in depth but
also more speculatively across a greater number of late modern
social formations. It focuses on isolating the master patterns which
may be discerned from the much more complex and messy realities
of institutional developments in any actual country, region or urban
or rural locality. In one important sense this overview offers an
imagined/imaginative blue-print for a new governmental agenda,
not yet realized across all the institutional sites and practices we
have explored but nonetheless discernible in these historical trends
and empirical particulars. And of course to “imagine“ our security,
welfare and justice futures in an important area of contributory social
scientific expertise: not least in opening up other ways in which we
may be governed (Edwards and Hughes, 2008; Hughes, 1998b, Wood
and Shearing, 2007)
Mapping the complex problems causing fragmentation
Over the years, problems endangering local public safety have
changed. Late modernity has provided the majority of citizens in
Western European societies with a certain amount of wealth and
stability. Citizens are nowadays assured of their most elementary
needs such as food and shelter and as a consequence focus their
concerns and fears more on “higher“ forms of security and safety.
Late modernity has thus highlighted new fears, risks and problems
(Hughes, 1998). Processes of modernization, globalization/
glocalization and cognate technological developments have created
new local public safety problems of a highly complex character.
Furthermore, the range of issues being considered as problems of
public safety have broadened rapidly. Where traditionally only crime
and disturbances of public order were addressed as matters of local
public safety governance, nowadays (local) public safety policies,
actors and instruments focus on a wide variety of problems including
a toxic mix of fears and perceived risks (about crime, disorder,
insecurity etc.), stretching across and beyond both local or national
Furthermore, traditionally local authorities were held responsible for
controlling the public safety situation within the boundaries of their
city or municipality. These new problems of public safety have offered
a real challenge to the local administrative authorities and the local
police and in turn highlighted their limited powers and capacities.
Complex or “wicked“ problems cut across the “jurisdictions of
organizations and cross the traditional boundaries between the
private and the public sector”(Koppenjan & Klijn, 2006: 1). Given the
changing character of public safety problems, the traditional actors
are no longer capable of handling them effectively all by themselves.
The mono-disciplinary approach has come under increasing pressure
to be changed into a multidisciplinary approach which consequently
paved the way for new policing actors.
On the general level of the current provision of safety and security,
one could characterise this as de-coupling of policing and the state
. (National) Governments no longer hold a monopolistic position
in handling public safety and no longer are the police the sole
responsible actor for fighting crime and restoring public order, and
reassuring an anxious public about their fears. We now deliberately
speak about public safety governance (not government) settings
wherein various actors are dealing with public safety issues (Hughes,
2007). Policing is more adequately defined as “all explicit efforts to
create visible agents of crime control, whether by government or by
non governmental institutions” (Bayley and Shearing , 1996: 715).
Fragmentation and pluralisation in governing public safety
During the past two decades “state power“ [for public order
maintenance] is being relinquished in various ways - “outwards“
to burgeoning commercial markets in policing and security,
“downwards“ to private organizations and municipal authorities and
to “responsiblized“ consumers and citizens and “upwards“ to new
sites of international police cooperation and transnational policing
forms ” (Loader and Walker 2001:10). As a result, governing local
public safety has become fragmented in terms of the range of actors
involved. In addition to local authorities and the public police, a lot
of other actors have started to address public safety problems, such
as other governmental actors, quasi governmental actors and also
citizens, voluntary organizations and private commercial actors.
In these pluralized settings of public safety governance, governments
and other actors all face the same challenge: namely how to
effectively handle new, changing and complex problems of public
safety. Dealing with this challenge, difficulties come to the front, such
as the inefficiency in separately addressing the same problems, clashes
between organizations, uncertainties about organizational strategies
and institutional backgrounds and fuzzy political-administrative
arrangements (Hughes 2007: chapters 3 and 4).
In networked settings and partnership working, like public safety
governance, actors are mutually dependent in terms of resources,
such as information, powers and instruments, for solving problems
(Edwards and Hughes, 2005; Koppenjan & Klijn, 2006). Logically, such
actors are mutually dependent on each other for achieving the goal
(governing public safety) which results in new, if fragile, interaction
patterns around policy problems. The challenge of effectively and
commonly addressing public safety problems fuels the need for new
forms of connection. After all, to achieve satisfactory outcomes, these
mutually dependent actors (“partners“ in common Anglophone
parlance) must in principle co-operate. Again logically, fragmentation
had soon to be followed by interconnection.
Interconnection in public safety governance
Ideally, we may presume interconnection to be established in, at
least, three different ways.
First, by bringing about a kind of working consensus on the subject
matter, new forms of policy and management emerge.
Second, once consensus is established, personal or institutional
leadership may hold substantive “connective“ capacity.
And third, there are the many new (structural) arrangements,
operational as well as political-administrative, bringing together
all those separate actors, approaches and interests, in a more or less
concerted approach.
Let us now briefly elaborate on each of these ideal typical
On a collective policy or management level, actors start to harmonize
the content of their individual activities regarding public safety
problems in both informal ways (practical guidelines and “soft“
policies) and formal ways (“hard“ policy and law). Common
priorities are set and actors design their own policies more or less
in accordance with common schemes and timelines in order to co-
ordinate, harmonize and to some extent maximize their individual
and common efforts. Plans, objectives, priorities and activities
of individual actors need to be organized in such a way that they
would most effectively address public safety. An example of this
type of connection is the “integrated“ policy approach to public
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safety problems, that was once popular in Belgium and especially in
the Netherlands. Various actors and public safety problems became
enrolled into and united in the so called “integral safety policies“ (in
Dutch: integraal veiligheidsbeleid). These policies form guidelines for
actors from national, local, public, civic or private backgrounds for
pooling their resources in addressing prioritized problems of public
safety. Integrated safety policies deliberately combine various objects
of governance broadly referred to as “societal“ and “physical“ public
safety problems. The establishment of local statutory community
safety partnerships - aimed at both combating (the fear of ) crime and
disorder and promoting community safety in England and Wales since
1998 also highlights such ambitions (Hughes, 2007).
Second and on a more individual level, through leadership, whether
of the innovating, hierarchical/traditional or more personal kind,
coordination, connection and steering can be brought about in the
fragmented field of public safety governance. After all, the complexity
of public safety policies and the complexity of organizations
surrounding it asks for “leaders who can pull the shifting framework
of local decision-making together, act as entrepreneurs in the highly
competitive environment and be the people whom the public can
identify as responsible for decisions affecting local areas“ (Reynaert
en Steyvers in Ponsaers, 2005:109). Leadership in public safety
governance implies signaling fragmentation and initiating solutions
by connecting actors, creating common structures, and coordinating
policy implementation or getting the most out of co-operating within
existing arrangements. In many of the institutional settings of public
safety governance in Belgium and the Netherlands, the mayor is the
traditional and institutional leader. However, leadership of multi-level
worlds such as public safety governance is not necessarily reserved
for the mayor alone. We are also witnessing attempts from national
governments and ministers to stimulate or direct local public safety
policies (see for example the emergence of locally elected Police and
Crime Commissioners amid much controversy in England and Wales
in 2011).
Third, and both on the operational level of public safety governance
and the politico-administrative level, various new arrangements in
addressing public safety problems have emerged. After all, actors
connected through policy content or by leaders have to implement
public safety policy by joint action. In these arrangements actors
start to co-operate - however cautiously- in actively designing
and implementing public safety policy together. These still fragile
arrangements on the operational level may be, for example,
characterized as multi-agency partnerships“ (Hughes, 1998,
2007) and “safety networks“ (Koppenjan & Klijn, 2006, Terpstra en
Kouwenhoven, 2004). Herein public-private collaboration takes
place and new practical connections arise on local or regional level
between, for example, private security companies, the police, local
governments and housing corporations and judicial actors. Also civic
actors are recruited to cooperate in these arrangements. Community
policing, for example, claims to connect citizens, local society
and policing actors. In such arrangements the public is activated
to contribute and actors are activated to work with the public in
addressing public safety problems. In noting these trends, we should
not of course underestimate the threats to legal accountability
and elected democratic control that may emerge in such “security“
networks. This sobering conclusion must not be lost sight of in any
debate which this deliberately optimistic account has in truth side-
Bayley, D.H. & C. D. Shearing (1996). “The future of policing“. Law and
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Beck, U. (1992). Risk Society. Towards a New Modernity, London.
Beleidsplan Nederlandse Politie 1999-2002, (BNP) Den Haag: Ministerie
van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties / Ministerie van Justitie,
december 1998.
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1. As exemplified in the annual “Tilley Awards“ granted to local
community safety partnerships in England and Wales that demonstrate
best practice in problem-oriented crime reduction (see: http://www.
2. This approach is exemplified in the following “sound-bite“ at the
beginning of the Casey report: “Most of all I would urge policy makers,
professionals, lobby groups and law makers to take note of one thing -
the public are not daft. They know what’s wrong, they know what’s right,
and they know what they want on crime and justice. And its time action
was taken on their terms”.
92 CRIMINOLOGY (SPECIAL ISSUE) - OCTOBER 2011 A. CACHET/G. HUGHES/P. PONSAERS/R.S. PRINS – Αποκτήστε πλήρη online πρόσβαση στην Εγκληματολογία από το 2009
Dr. A (Lex) Cachet (1946) got his Masters in Sociology from the
University of Amsterdam and his PhD from Leiden University (Policing
and Social Control, 1990). He has been working at Erasmus Universiteit
Rotterdam. First in the department of Sociology. Since 1985 as an
associate professor in the department of Public Administration. His
research focuses on policing, public safety and local government.
Recently he co-authored books on local safety policies in The
Netherlands and Belgium, on changes in police systems in five Wet-
European countries and on the future of the mayor’s function in the
Netherlands. For more than a decade he was a member of the daily
board of the Faculty of Social Sciences, first as director of education,
later on as vice-dean. He retired in 2011, but still is working in the PA
department. He also has been active in local and regional politics.
Professor Gordon Hughes is Chair in Criminology at the Centre for
Crime, Law and Justice, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University,
Wales, UK. His most recent monograph is “The Politics of Community
and Crime“ (2007). Recent research projects and reports include the
RSPCA-funded “Status dogs, young people and criminalisation: towards
a preventative strategy“ (2011), and the Welsh Assembly Government-
funded “Evaluation of the Safer Communities Fund, 2006-9 (2009). He
is a leading member of the major EU-funded project “Securis“ which
will undertake comparative research into urban security, safety and
crisis management expertise across Europe and seek to develop an EU-
wide training programme for multi-agency working (November 2011-
13). For further information contact
Paul Ponsaers (13th of March 1952) is full time senior professor
at Ghent University, Faculty of Law, department Penal Law and
Criminology. He has a Licentiate degree in Sociology and a Doctoral
degree in Criminology. He started his scientific career as a scientific
assistant at the University of Leuven (KULeuven). After a journalistic
period with the daily news paper De Morgen, Paul worked as a
head lecturer of Sociology of Law at the University of Amsterdam.
Afterwards, he became departmental manager of the Police Policy
Support Unit. In the beginning at the department of Interior and later
on at the General Service of Police Support for ten years. This is where
he set up several broad scientific projects such as: registered crime
statistics and the security monitor. Since 1998, Paul has been working
at Ghent University, where he teaches Police Sciences, Sociology of
Law and Methods and Techniques of Criminological Research. Paul
Ponsaers is the co-director of the interuniversity Research Unit Social
Analysis of Security Research and promotor of the associated research
unit Governance of Security. He is also a member of the international
GERN network (Paris). Paul Ponsaers is president of the association
vzw Panopticon and member of the journal with the same name
(Maklu), editor of the seriesCahiers Police Studies (Maklu), member
of the redactional board of Orde van de Dag (Kluwer) and president
of the editorial board of the series Het Groene Gras (Boom Juridical
Publishers). He specialises in the field of Community (Oriented) Policing,
financial and economic crime, crime analysis and security policy. On
these topis he published several articles and (contributions in) books in
national and international journals and series. Email: Paul.Ponsaers@
Ruth Prins M.Sc. (1985) studied at Erasmus University Rotterdam and
received a master degree in Public Administration (master program
Policy and Politics) in 2007. In 2008 she graduated for the master
program Governance of Public Safety at the VU University Amsterdam.
During her studies, she worked as a research assistant at both
universities. Currently, Ruth works as a PhD- student at the department
of Public Administration at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her PhD
research is about local mayors in public safety governance. Besides
her PhD research, she is an academic teacher at Erasmus University
Full-text available
Met enige haast en nog in afwachting van toetsing door de Eerste Kamer wordt momenteel gewerkt aan de totstandkoming van de Nederlandse Natio-nale Politie. De desbetreffende regelgeving is uiteraard belangrijk, maar het politiebestel is geen rustig bezit. 1 Beoogd wordt dat de efficiëntie en de effec-tiviteit van het politiebestel er beter van worden. Hierbij moeten fundamente-le keuzes gemaakt worden. Kijken naar andere landen, en zeker ook naar buurlanden zoals België, is, als het gaat om de lessen die geleerd kunnen worden van ervaringen van anderen, zeker op zijn plaats. Maar tussen Neder-land en België bestaan naast veel punten van overeenkomst ook aanzienlijke verschillen in politiek-bestuurlijke en andere tradities, en verschillen in de in-richting van het openbaar bestuur en opvattingen over politie en politiewerk. Elk nieuw bestel lost sommige problemen bevredigend op, maar andere niet en creëert bovendien weer nieuwe problemen. België en Nederland verschil-len ook sterk waar het politie en justitie betreft. Dit blijft een opvallend gege-ven, zeker nu er binnen de Europese Unie wordt gestreefd naar meer samen-hang en wederzijdse erkenning. Maar opvallend is wel dat weinig van de vele politiesystemen die in de Europese landen gereorganiseerd werden, de inter-nationale samenwerking sterker en vernieuwend hebben verankerd. Meestal bleef de internationale samenwerking een weinig zichtbaar onderdeel van de organisatiestructuur en-werking. Anderzijds bieden deze verschillen aankno-pingspunten om te vergelijken en te zoeken naar mogelijke specifieke meer-waarde van die verschillende oplossingen bij het nemen van beslissingen. Een goede reden dus om te vergelijken wat er nu in Nederland en ook in België gebeurt.
Full-text available
Het publieke debat wordt beheerst door angst voor extreme dreigingen als klimaatverandering of terrorisme, maar ook ‘kleinere’ zorgen roepen veel emotie op. De overheid wordt continu aangespoord om ervoor te zorgen dat ‘het’ nooit (meer) gebeurt. Dit boek biedt een nieuw perspectief op deze ‘cultuur van angst’ en haar soms utopische veiligheidseisen. In de ‘voorzorgcultuur’ staat het voorzorgbeginsel centraal, dat inhoudt dat het ontbreken van bewijs van schadelijkheid geen reden is om geen beschermende maatregelen te nemen. Met de focus op voorzorg gaat de aandacht vooral uit naar de bedreiging van milieu en gezondheid door technologie en industrie. Het voorzorgbeleid dat in het milieurecht ontwikkeld is, blijkt echter ook aanwijsbaar in onze bezorgdheid over publieke veiligheid. Na een beschrijving van de ontwikkeling van de voorzorgcultuur wordt een kritische analyse geleverd. Op basis daarvan worden enkele voorstellen gedaan, die kunnen bevorderen dat bij het ontwikkelen van voorzorgbeleid meer rekening gehouden wordt met de negatieve bijwerkingen van dat beleid zelf.
Full-text available
Onderstaande bijdrage is gebaseerd op een literatuurstudie die werd verricht bij aanvang van het wetenschappelijke onderzoek 4 over het profiel en de evaluatie van de korpschef, leider van een Belgisch lokaal politiekorps 5. In dit artikel willen we op basis van theo-retische en empirische inzichten uit onderzoek naar leiderschap in het algemeen en politieleiderschap in het bijzonder een antwoord proberen bieden op de vraag welke verwachtingen er ten aanzien van politieleiders worden gesteld. Met andere woorden, we stellen de vraag welk soort leider er nodig is voor de politieorganisatie en spiegelen dit vervolgens aan de leiderschapscontext voor de Belgische korpschefs. We merken op dat dit geen exhaustief overzicht is, maar we denken wel dat dit overzicht van verschil-lende visies op leiderschap en politieleiderschap kan helpen bij het kaderen van de bevindingen van ons onderzoek, dat in een volgende bijdrage werd ondergebracht.
Book synopsis: `Its strength lies in combining theoretical insights with an impressive range of empirical material. The analysis is subtle and multi-layered.... This is a timely and important book' - Political Studies `Local governance have gained massive attention among scholars and practitioners during the past several years. Peter John's book fills a void in the literature by tracing the historical roots of local governance and by placing his findings in a comparative perspective' - Professor Jon Pierre, University of Gothenburg, Sweden `Peter John has produced a fascinating and stimulating book in which he assesses current developments in urban politics and local government in Europe and suggests how these changes are leading to different patterns of sub-national territorial politics in the EU today. What he has to say is of important interest to all students of local government; comparative politics and of territorial politics more generally' - Michael Goldsmith, University of Salford `this book offers a fascinating comparative analysis... themes such as New Public Management, globalisation, regionalism and privatisation will be relevant to numerous courses in government, politics, public administration and public policy' - West European Politics This text provides a comprehensive introduction to local government and urban politics in contemporary Western Europe. It is the first book to map and explain the change in local political systems and to place these in comparative context. The book introduces students to the traditional structures and institutions of local government and shows how these have been transformed in response to increased economic and political competition, new ideas, institutional reform and the Europeanization of public policy. At the book's core is the perceived transition from local government to local governance. The book traces this key development thematically across a wide range of West European states including: Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom.
This essay examines the restructuring of policing currently taking place in developed democratic societies. It argues that restructuring is occurring under private as well as government auspices and will have profound effects on public safety, equity, human rights, and accountability. These effects are discussed, along with the trade-offs they represent for public policy. The driving forces behind restructuring are fear of crime, the inability of government to satisfy society's longing for security, the commodification of security, the rise of mass private property, and cultural individualism. The essay concludes with a prediction about the future of policing and suggests policies that are needed to avoid restructuring's harmful effects.
The gradual de-coupling of police and state is an increasingly well-documented phenomenon. Against this backdrop, we set out in this article to reformulate and defend a positive (rather than pejorative) connection between policing and the state. We begin by reconstructing four candidate means by which the state-policing nexus might plausibly be established - the monopoly of legitimate coercion, the delivery of civic governance, the guarantee of collective provision and the symbolism of state and nation; and in so doing assess both their sociological viability under conditions of fragmentation and pluralization, and their normative adequacy to the task of producing democratic, equitable and effective policing. We then outline our preferred mode of reconfiguring the linkage between policing and the state; one that recognizes the irreducibly social nature of what policing offers to guarantee - namely, security, and seeks on that basis to recombine elements of the above four 'positions' into a 'thick', communal conception of policing as a public good.
This essay examines the restructuring of policing currently taking place in developed democratic societies. It argues that restructuring is occurring under private as well as government auspices and will have profound effects on public safety, equity, human rights, and accountability. These effects are discussed, along with the trade-offs they represent for public policy. The driving forces behind restructuring are fear of crime, the inability of government to satisfy society's longing for security, the commodification of security, the rise of mass private property, and cultural individualism. The essay concludes with a prediction about the future of policing and suggests policies that are needed to avoid restructuring's harmful effects.