(Summary Report  - March 2009)



This document contains a summary of the main findings of a survey conducted by FONDACA on the role of active citizenship organisations in urban safety policies. The analysis was commissioned by the Municipality of Genoa (Safe City Department) in preparation for a conference on this issue, which was held on 11 March 2009.

The survey was conducted between December 2008 and February 2009. It focused on the role of organised citizens in safety policies, in particular those applied at the local level. The information was obtained through desk reviews of previous research conducted on the topic as well as policy documents and other relevant publications recording experiences at the national, European and international levels. The main objective of the study was to contribute to enriching the cultural context within which the topic of active citizen’s involvement in urban safety has been debated in Italy. Furthermore, the final analysis hopes to enlarge the overall conceptual framework used to interpret situations and experiences as well as the arguments on which the respective public policies are built and promoted.

The main sources included: research papers; syllabi for university and para-university courses; specialized training materials; empirical research reports; national and local-level governmental and administrative policy documentation; policy papers by public entities and civic organisations; documents published by public, civil or mixed programmes; various resource-centre materials; operational manuals. A complete list of the sources that were consulted is attached to the present paper.

The authors would like to highlight a few cautionary notes for the reader to keep in mind. The first observation is that the survey did not focus on safety policies specifically, but rather on the involvement of those organisations active in this policy area. This choice reflects the focus of the conference and is consistent with FONDACA’s expertise and background on the role of civic activism in public policy processes.

The second clarification is that the survey was based on three main operational concepts. The first one regards the concept of an active citizenship organisation. This term was used to identify any kind of autonomous citizen organisation involved within local safety policies, regardless of its form, rationale, main areas of action and operational strategies, provided that they act in the general interest. The second concept regards the operational definition of safety policy, which describes any policy aiming to prevent, reduce or repress social, environmental and intimidatory factors that contribute to threatening citizens and their right to live without fear of crime, thereby having an impact on their quality of life. This type of policy includes preventive measures to reducing crime and countering anti-social behaviour. The third operational concept is that of community or local community, defined as all persons living in a specific place, whose social identity, though, allows for divergent views and interests.

Thirdly, we need to clarify that, due to the limited timeframe and the vastness of the research field, this analysis does not aspire to provide more than an overview, that is, it aims at identifying both priority topics and issues and phenomena that would require further investigation. These next steps should also include a systematic survey on urban safety initiatives implemented autonomously by active citizenship organisations or integrated within local government programmes. 

This report is divided into four parts. The first part summarizes the main context-related elements regarding the role of citizens' organisations in urban safety policies. The second part takes into account the factors that characterize the relationship between civic and administrative initiatives. The third part depicts a tentative map of "civic resources" for urban safety. Finally, the fourth section highlights some open questions and critical aspects regarding the involvement of citizens' organisations in safety policies.