in Frankfurt am Main
Welcome to the Council for Prevention of Crime and Violence of the City of Frankfurt
Preventing crime and violence is a task, which not only the City of Frankfurt is confrontated with. We know that there are also international visitors of our website, so that we are now able to provide a survey on the activities of the local Council for Prevention of Crime and Violence in the English language on the world-wide-web.
Here are the topics:
- Public safety
Choice of topics of prevention projects and activities:
- Bakery bags "Violence - Notice - Help"
Meeting of major European cities about the subject "security" on 27th September 2002: basic questions & answers in a comparative table
Several contacts with members of ARAN, which is an NGO of citizens of Strasburgs district Neudorf. They transformed the ideas of the campaign "Violence - Notice It - Help" and "Be cool - stay cool" into the French campaign "Je réagis!". Corresponding site only in German;
The guaranty of public safety is an all-state duty, a duty of the states within the Federal Republic of Germany and of their connected police. On the other hand, it is common knowledge that 80% of all criminal offences recorded by the police have local offenders or local reasons.
Especially in times when citizens are worried about security, the criminal prevention and local security policy must also be seen as a priority duty of the cities.
Even though German cities haven’t got their own police, it is necessary to create structures, networks and partnerships to cut the ground from the repeatedly new causes of criminality. The City of Frankfurt has acted correspondingly. In November 1995, it set up its own security department.
This department is the central contact for the police as well. It coordinates the cooperation and every information as well as all complaints of the citizens run together in this department.
The coordination of the authorities take place in regular discussions between the chief of police, the Lord Mayor and the head of the security department. Establishing this kind of competence and a clear assignment of duties within the city administration, guarantees prompt reactions in case of conflicts, short ways of information between police and city administration and last but not least it first of all enables the institutionalizing of an effective cooperation.
On account of the situation that stagnant criminality doesn’t have any influence on the peoples feeling about security, a municipal security concept was outlined and further developed since 1996. It is composed of:
1.>Stimulation of city centers
3. An information- and security glass pavilion at the Zeil (city center)
4. Task Force of security services. Separately trained staff which can be reached 24 hours a day. Problems are recorded and worked on independent from competence.
5. Cleanness offensive – Harsh action against “garbage sinners” Fighting Graffiti
6. Video surveillance
7. 30 prevention assistants
As another important forum to coordinate the municipal security interests, a prevention council was set up in July 1996.
The Lord Mayor, the mayor, the head of the security, the social, the school and the integration department, the chief of police and the head of the office of the district attorney are members of this council. This prevention council has the duty to implement development strategies to prevent criminal offences with all social power in the City of Frankfurt. The prevention council collects information and gives impulses. The council records criminal preventive scenarios and works out problem analysis.
Three working groups are associated to the prevention council. The first one is the so called drug working group. It successfully takes care of drug prevention in Frankfurt. The liquidation of the drug scene, the decrease of dead due to drugs and building up a varied relief network is the success of this working group.
Another working group called security, examines the complete field of the subject criminality and security in its different facets. The biggest success of this working group was the creation of the “joint working group foreign serial offenders” (GAI). Two police officers and two civil servants of the public authority responsible for aliens work together target-oriented in this working group. While the municipal side takes care of the deportation orders, the police ensures that foreign serial offenders are taken into custody. Because of this cooperation it is possible to deport annually about 100 serial offenders with approximately 4,800 cases and this has considerably reduced criminality in the City of Frankfurt.
The third working group called youth and prevention takes care about problems such as truancy and juvenile delinquency. This working group addresses reasons of new social trends and the youth welfare planning is harmonized with it.
On the lowest level of an hierarchy we’ve established 16 regional district prevention councils in urban districts. In this forum, the police, the city administration, local representatives from clubs, churches, schools, children and youth institutions as well as representatives from politics and economy work together on a voluntary basis. The regional councils work out local strategies and projects to increase security and to improve the social structure. They also analyze and adjust conflicts in the urban district. The causes for criminality in the urban district are being examined and solutions are being worked out. Examples for their work are:
· Better living conditions
The matter of fact that the competence of the people on the spot is included, guarantees that the real problems are being picked up and worked on. Since the regional prevention councils’ businesses are managed by the branch office, it is ensured that the working method is target- and result-oriented.
A special feature of the Frankfurt model is the structure of a prevention hierarchy which extends to the urban districts. The distribution of functions and the most important decisions are made on the prevention council level. Questions which came up, are professionally handled on the working group level. The local solution of problems occurs on the lowest level, the regional councils.
Once a year, all organizations which are engaged in prevention are invited to a prevention conference. The target of this conference, which is prepared with a questionnaire, is to make out negative social trends in due time, so that counter-strategies can be seized. Among others, the workshop protection for youth, the workshop consequences from the terrorist attacks in New York, and the workshop new media came into existence after the last prevention conference. Now I would like to present some working examples of the prevention network in Frankfurt.
The most important order of the prevention council for police, city administration, public prosecutor’s office was to promote tolerance and moral courage among the citizens of Frankfurt. The increase in violent crimes where through-travelers just watch without doing something, caused the prevention council to take steps against this “non-culture of looking away”. A working group, which overlaps the authorities. has taken over the management as a steering committee and started the campaign “Violence - Notice it - Help” in 1997. This campaign accompanies social life in Frankfurt and motivates the citizens in moral courage and solidarity with always new ideas and actions.
First, when the concept was worked out, the motive of the (non-helping) bystander effect was examined to seize suitable actions. Three fields of action were derived from this
· Creating an awareness of problems (public talking about the problems)
The target of this campaign is to motivate the citizens to help and to strengthen the sense of responsibility and duty. The willingness for moral courage shall also be promoted. A culture of watching, reduces the phenomenon of looking away and makes criminals insecure. Procurement of decision-making and responsibility is the core of this campaign. Information on behavior in violent situations are given in public performances, workshops, school events, in theatres and in all areas of social life. The information is transported by 175.000 flyers, cinema and TV spots and posters. It was possible to acquire all social forces such as taxi drivers, bankers, bus and subway drivers, churches, labor unions, women associations, sports clubs, schools and welfare institutions and so on. The message of helping and watching was transported into schools with the motto “Be cool – Stay cool”. Oriented at the target group, many small actions supported this campaign.
Swiss newspaper article on the campaign in English and French language see sidebar on the right.
Choice of prevention projects and activities:
There was advertisement for moral courage printed on 170,000 bags which were used in more than 30 bakeries in Frankfurt. The spontaneous readiness of a baker, who supported the idea of the prevention council with a jointly sponsor action, made this possible. This activity caused a large echo because when someone bought bread he also got information about the “Violence - Notice it - Help” campaign. The use of bakery bags for criminal prevention was a sensation.
The headline “Be cool – stay cool” stands for a decision making and responsibility training in violent situations in schools. In role-plays and training, conflict situations are explained to the young people and they learn how to act correctly. They also get information about the risks of defending oneself with weapons and they also are strengthened to hold out against verbal attacks. Be cool – stay cool is an important element of violence prevention in Frankfurt’s schools. At the beginning of the scholastic year, every school kid gets a time-table from the prevention council. On the backside of this time-table there is a model school regulation and a letter of the Lord Mayor to the teachers that they should also talk about duties, regulations, tolerance and solidarity in their classes. This time-table is also available on the internet.
Bicycle prevention days are permanent parts of the district prevention work. At these events, bicycles are provided with a security number and by doing so they are theft-proof. Security systems, free bicycle repairs and security checks complete those events. They also are a good chance to get in touch with the young people living in the district.
In urban districts, there sometimes are dangerous situations where young people steal in stores, intimidate the staff and threaten by-passers. Out of an crisis, the prevention council implemented a local security program against shop-lifting:
A dirty city is a city in which the citizens feel uncomfortable. A dirty city brings more dirt, the citizens adapt themselves to the situation and graffiti, vandalism and destruction gain ground. This is why the prevention council has got the target to strengthen the awareness of cleanliness. According to this, the regional prevention work also takes care of teaching cleanliness. This occurs, like in the urban district Schwanheim, with an annual garbage collecting activity. All citizens are asked to participate in this activity, and it is very successful with children, young people and families.
Frankfurt´s school-theatre-studio is one of the most important parts for preventing violence in schools. In form of workshops and interactive theatre, the school kids reflect on violent situations and possibilities to resolve conflicts. In addition to the Frankfurt school-theatre-studio, there is a mediation program. The target of this programm is a constructive conflict structure in schools. In Frankfurt, the prevention of violence in schools is co-ordinated by a working group which also sees to it that the offers are coordinated and that the quality is guaranteed.
Again and again, it happens that conflicts arise within a neighbourhood or housing estate between persons or families. That is the reason why the Office for multicultural Affairs has approximately 50 persons working as district mediators. They can be called to resolve conflicts without violence. Then talks are held with the persons effected to examine the problems and to find practicable ways for reconciliation.
In the meanwhile, the project “social city” is training more district mediators in four urban districts. These mediators usually live in the housing estate and can be called in conflict situations.
In the year 2000, the prevention council held a survey around school kids about the subjects violence and leisure time. They wanted to find out what kind of experiences young people made with violence in and outside of school, and what they think how to prevent violence and they also wanted to know how the young people spend their leisure time. Partly, the results were surprising:
This is a very surprising result and it shows that especially schools and families have to do more about the bringing up.
Result: Coming to the realisation that sports has a high status for boys and that boys don’t always want to join sports clubs, midnight sports is offered in Frankfurt on weekends. The young people are able to play soccer in open teams in sports halls and by doing so they aren’t out in the streets or dangerous places and they spend their leisure time under supervision.
The SOS-emergency card is imprinted with all important emergency numbers as well as the service line number of the town clerk’s office. The security officers can be reached 24 hours a day and in case of an emergency they can help or they can call the police.
The regional prevention councils created so called district guides. These guides include all important addresses which are necessary for living in the district. One can find addresses of clubs and associations, explanations where kids can spend their leisure time, offers from clubs and churches, child care and the guide informs where one can get help or advises in the district. These guide, which were created in the district, give useful information especially for newcomers. They also strengthen the common feeling in the district and encourages the communication and the solidarity,
In those districts which have a regional prevention council, regular surveys among the citizens are conducted. Here they ask about living contentment and areas were citizens are afraid of. Because of these surveys it is possible to plan police operations more target oriented and to adjust the social policy according to the visible deficiency.
Criminality exists in all social classes. Especially minorities are victims of violence. For that reason, the prevention council has got a working group which takes care of preventing violence against homosexuals and lesbians. This also brought up a poster campaign.
To counteract violence successfully in the society, prevention measures have to start early and they have to include children and young people. The question is, how respectively with what kind of communication medium children can be reached. We decided to use a comic. It was developed by a well-known comic illustrator for the prevention council. This school year, all kids in 5th grade get this comic.
In Frankfurt am Main, the criminal prevention work is coordinated, outlined and implemented by the office of the prevention council. 100.000 € are budgeted for projects and activities. In 2012 five persons are working in this office.
Since the beginning of the new local security policy in Frankfurt, the crime rate is declining. The citizens think that the city is safer. In 1994, 57% of the citizens said that security is the biggest problem of the city, in 2011 there were only 10% who think so.
The lowest crime rate since 1981 shows that Frankfurt’s way of fighting against criminality is also a successful one.