Strategic Seminars

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ICPC can make a contribution to national or sub-national policy-making and program planning, by bringing to a national seminar, a well-considered international perspective. This perspective can come in part from the participation and advice of ICPC staff, and in part from the network of crime prevention expertise which ICPC participates in. The purpose of the seminars is to enable exchange of expertise and dissemination of information about specific topics to be targeted to key stakeholders in a country or region. This is a forum to encourage more effective crime prevention strategies and practice, through reviewing current national practice in the perspective of comparative international experience.

The ICPC Policing for Prevention seminars

This gradual evolution of the role that police play in community safety and crime prevention motivated the ICPC to become involved in a series of "Policing for Prevention" seminars which began in 1998. Seminars were delivered to small groups of approximately 80 people and focused closely on producing concrete arguments for prevention and tools for action. This series was co-sponsored by the Solicitor General of Canada with additional support from the Province of Quebec's ministère de la Sécurité publique (Ministry of Public Security) for the first phase. Two publications have already been produced as a result (The Role of the Police in Crime Prevention: Synthesis Report following the first seminar and Inspiring Police Practices: Crime Prevention Partnerships following the second seminar) while a third is currently being finalized.

The principle for each seminar was the same: the ICPC circulated in advance a paper outlining the seminar's challenges and objectives; this document then served as a foundation for the smooth unfolding of seminar work, a good part of which occurred in workshops. Workshop guidelines enabled better participant interaction as well as syntheses of seminar proceedings. There were two main challenges: on one hand, to convince police to engage in delinquency prevention as an integral part of their profession and, on the other hand, responding to shared challenges by bringing about knowledge- and ability-sharing that respected each partner's individual professional responsibilities and abilities.

 

First seminar, Montreal (Canada), November 1998

Many of these principal concerns were addressed by this first seminar, particularly the planning of prevention strategies and internal organizational change strategies to adapt existing structures to new objectives and consider these objectives in daily service management. Emphasis was also placed on planning sustainable strategies by ensuring adequate and stable project financing, including that for various forms of evaluation which are indispensable yet at the same time problematic for police services. Finally, attention was given to recognizing the complementary contributions of partners with different abilities in order to best implement local level prevention strategies, programs, and actions. A few other trends discussed were:

Police can not "solve" delinquency alone. Police must work in partnership in order to share responsibility for tackling the major challenges of delinquency. This is particularly necessary in light of increased demands being placed on police to respond to minor delinquency, infractions, and social dysfunctions;

The evolution of police towards closer relationships with communities and citizens; and

A willingness for internal police service reform dictated by these changes which better delegates responsibilities and missions.

The Montreal seminar suggested that the second seminar focus on certain subjects which still remained somewhat vague, in particular the use and transferability of "good practices" as well as the establishment of clear impact and process indicators which create a foundation for conducting practical evaluations.

 

Second seminar, Birmingham (UK), December 1999

Plenary and workshop sessions focussed on three themes: adaptation and transformation of police organizations for the development of effective prevention; evaluation of crime prevention partners and programs; and support for partnership prevention strategies. objectives and challenges, opportunities to learn from practice, and concrete recommendations were identified for each of these themes. The following summarizes the wealth of exchanges and recommendations by theme:

 

     Adaptation and transformation of police organizations:

  • Establishing legitimacy of new missions and the necessity of a legal basis and clear mandates;
  • The development of a "client-based approach" where emerging police services could function to varying capacities depending on the financial support implemented for them';
  • The necessity of true professionalism based on a police code of conduct which distances police from the political system and shelters them from being political pressure.

    Evaluation:
  • The definition of performance indicators in a field as complex as police work;
  • The necessity of defining the field being evaluated and evaluation objectives and criteria before police operations;
  • The contrast between the short-term results demanded and changes which can only appear over a medium- or longer-term;
  • The fact that the simple addition of sectoral policies does not produce a common strategy;
  • The fact that prevention work aims to modify values makes it particularly delicate and necessitates a personal investment from every one involved. 

    Support for partnership strategies
    :
  • The question of partnership organization versus the spontaneity of  cooperation;
  • The particular status of the police who are obligated to respond from within a partnership;
  • The importance of a real coordination at a variety of levels, such as political and technical;
  • The interest in local contractual policies (politiques contractuelles) as a way of organizing responses and increasing the potential of means used.

Third seminar, Washington DC, September 2001

This seminar was co-organized with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), America's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), National Crime Prevention Council (USA), and Washington DC's Metropolitan Police Department. This seminar saw a relative participation reversal with a significant increase in American police participants compared to those from Canada and Europe. Relying on the previous seminars, the ICPC drafted the seminar's background paper and organized the seminar around three central themes:

  • The integration of prevention into police strategy. Sub-themes were the status of services responsible for prevention and the use of prevention tools and messages by police services.
  • The methods for making the necessary structural changes within the hearts of police organizations in order to consider prevention. Sub-themes discussed what a police service who has expanded its role in prevention looks like and how to motivate change.
  • The partners interested in inciting change while looking ahead. Sub-themes were how police services can become involved in prevention and the characteristics of a partnership that supports this new wave of police reorganization.

In March 2002, the ICPC launched a new Tool Kit called The Role of the Police in Crime Prevention (available for download here). The Tool Kit was developed based on evaluation results and comments collected during and following the Washington seminar and integrates many elements of seminar workshop intervention and debates. The Kit is a collection of thematic papers including: "Police and Community"; "Creating Effective Partnerships"; "Investing in Prevention and Partnerships"; "Key steps in Good Planning"; "Creating Change"; and "Investing in Prevention: Who Pays?".

The ICPC and its partners are also examining the possibility of following this series of seminars with regional seminars which will allow interested police to join up in regional networks within large geographical zones in order to create strategic and operational links to facilitate their exchanges and help them in their prevention initiatives.