Crime prevention in the EU

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After Amsterdam

In a meeting in Tampere, October 1999, the European Council discussed the crime prevention subject further and adopted a detailed agenda, and among others Conclusion Nr. 41, which states that there must be an integration of crime preventive work and further development of the Member State’s crime preventive programmes. It also stated that common priorities must be declared within the Member States and within the Union, and that they should be considered when legislating.25 The following Conclusion Nr. 42 defines the priorities to be juvenile, urban and drug-related crimes. It also expresses that, “ The exchange of best practices should be developed, the network of competent national authorities for crime prevention and co-operation between national crime prevention organisations should be strengthened and the possibility of a Community funded programme should be explored for these purposes” .26 The Tampere Conclusions also concluded that “ people have the right to expect the Union to address the threat to their freedom and legal rights posed by serious crime” by a Union-wide fight.27 The Conclusions also added the important aspects of mutual recognition along with the establishment of Eurojust. The agenda of Tampere is quite wide and apprehensive, and has therefore raised the question on how these policies can be applied in a democratic manner and at the same time guarantee basic human rights.
In Communication 2000/786, Crime Prevention in the European Union, from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament, the Commission pointed out some problem areas suggesting that these become priorities and recommended the parties to develop effective strategies. It resulted in the establishment of a crime preventive forum, the EUCPN and the Hippocrates programme.29 The decision to establish a Network was said to be a complement to organised crime prevention and done with the purpose to broaden the focus.30 In 2001 EUCPN was established with the objective to develop different aspects of crime prevention and to support and help locally and nationally. Today, EUCPN is responsible for all kinds of crimes, but have put special interest in juvenile, urban and drug-related crimes in accordance with the Tampere Conclusions. The Network is to enforce communication, contact and information exchange between the Member States as well as between different EU-organs and other crime preventive networks. They are also to gather and analyse information about different crimes and preventive strategies. So far, the Network has been successful in charting successful preventive strategies, spreading this information within the Union, and in obtaining good results in the research of some important areas (see chapter. 5).31 Since, Communication 2000/786 crime prevention has become a specific topic within the Union’s 6th Framework Programme RTD.32 The research’s aim is to develop common instruments to measure “ the extent and nature of volume crimes” , evaluate crime preventive measures and to analyse threats.
In Communication 2004/164, The prevention of crime in the European Union, it was pointed out that the Member States were foremost responsible for the crime preventive activities, since most crimes are considered to be local occurrences. Volume crimes are for example best prevented through local and national efforts. Even so, there must be close cooperation and exchange of information between the Member States in order to avoid duplication of efforts and so that the resources are used most effectively.34 The Communication presents some evaluation of present crime preventive work and it is said that the Member States differ in efforts. The main problem is that theory is not put into practice. There is also a lack of effective methods to analyse and measure the preventive work and its results. The few economic and human resources are also problematic, since it leads to short-term solutions instead of the crucial long-term ones. In conclusion, the solution for the problems are said to be more communication, knowledge and education within the field.
In the new Constitution draft it is stated in Art. III 173, that measures to support and promote crime prevention can be done by European laws or framework laws, but that it is not to be a harmonisation of the different legal systems.

Non-organised crime

Non-organised crimes are within the Union, by the Commission, given the more accurate definition volume crimes. Volume crimes are defined as all kinds of crimes that are frequently committed in which the victims are easily identified. The victims are often private persons and their property. Most common are the property-related-crimes involving a physical violent approach such as domestic burglary, car theft and robbery.

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Definition of crime prevention

The Commission’s definition of the word crime prevention is, “ all activities which contribute to halting or reducing crime as a social phenomenon, both quantitatively and qualitatively, either through permanent and structured cooperation measures or through ad hoc initiatives” .42 Crime prevention may also be prevention which aims at reducing “ citizens© feeling of insecurity” . The prevention is carried out by different actors such as public authorities, schools, researchers, the private sector etc, as well as by the vaste majority of the community.
The subject as such is often divided into to different practical forms of prevention. It may be prevention focusing on the victims, the perpetrators or prevention towards groups at risk or on situations, depending on the sort of crime dealing with.44 There are mainly three practical preventive actions: One which aims at reducing the crime opportunities, in order to make crimes less tempting and profitable, another which lessens the social and economic crime promoting factors, and a third which informs and protects victims.

Crime prevention in the EU

The Treaty of Amsterdam brought up the question of crime prevention in Article 29 by defining it as one of the Union’s political subjects, which is included in the creation of an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. The crime preventive work was said to combat both organised and non-organised crimes, and thus broadened the term.46 In Tampere 1999 the Council drew out a strategy in Conclusions Nr. 41 and 42, “ The European Council calls for the integration of crime prevention aspects into actions against crime as well as for the further development of national crime prevention programmes. Common priorities should be developed and identified in crime prevention in the external and internal policy of the Union and be taken into account when preparing new legislation [… ] The exchange of best practices should be developed, the network of competent national authorities for crime prevention and cooperation between national crime prevention organisations should be strengthened and the possibility of a Community funded programme should be explored for these purposes.”
The same year a meeting was held in Haag where representatives from public authorities, academia, trade and industry discussed the matter of organised crime. A second meeting was held in Costa da Caparica in 2000 to further decide the elements of a European strategy. It resulted in a proposal made by the Commission and EUROPOL, which included a strategy based on analysis of prevention and studies of crime, in order to better prevent crimes upcoming and being. These results were taken in account in the development process of the general European crime preventive strategy.


The theoretical ambition of the EU is to provide the Union’s citizens with a high degree of security.48 Practically, the primary aim is to develop effective, rapid and proportional crime preventive instruments along with enforcement measures, which state the wrongfulness of crime.49 Afterwards, it is important to evaluate these actions in order to measure their effectiveness.50 Effective preventive strategies call for more vigilance, which can intrude on the citizens’ daily lives. Even so, the actions must be carried out in a matter that does not collide with fundamental legal rights and principles. The preventive strategies aim at protecting civil by:
– reducing crime opportunities.
– preventing factors which make people commit crimes and its repetition.
– avoiding victimisation.
– reducing insecurity.
– promoting a legal culture and conflict-solving strategies.
– promoting a good governance.
– preventing infiltration in society by criminals.
The volume crime preventive strategies should focus on juvenile, urban and drug-related crimes as decided by the Council in Tampere. Organised crime prevention on the other hand, must focus on crimes of high technology, drug and human trafficking especially of women, sexual exploitation of children, economic art and on the forgery of the euro.

Table of contents :

1. Introduction
1.1 Preface
1.2 Aim
1.3 Disposition
1.4 Demarcation
1.5 Methodology and material
2. History
2.1 Before Amsterdam
2.2 After Amsterdam
3. Definitions
3.1 Definition of crime
3.1.1 Organised crime
3.1.2 Non-organised crime
3.2 Definition of crime prevention
4. Crime prevention in the EU
4.1 Aim
4.2 Strategies
4.2.1 Suggestions
4.2.2 The Hague Programme
5.1 Aim
5.2 Structure
5.3 Strategy
5.4 Evaluation
6. Problems and analysis
6.1 Practical problems
6.2 Theoretical problems
6.3 Concluding remarks
7. Conclusions
8. Bibliography


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