Tuesday, 2 Nov 2021  |  Reading time:  13 mins  | Read online

Crime prevention and rehabilitation

Each week we focus on a different global topic, highlighting innovative content and insights from LGIU and our members around the world.  

While many local authorities are not actively involved in prisons or justice proceedings, they play a crucial role in crime prevention and helping people who have committed crimes to reintegrate into society. This edition of the Global Local Recap highlights municipal initiatives helping to reduce violence, manage the impacts of crime and support at-risk people.
What are the current challenges? The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted key support services that many vulnerable people rely on, including mental health services, housing provision, libraries, education and child care. With people isolated, some crime types went down, but domestic violence, cybercrime and hate crimes increased.
What else? The killing of George Floyd shone a global spotlight on police brutality and racial inequality. Many people are calling for funding to be diverted from the police to community initiatives, placing significant pressure on local authorities to find appropriate policing alternatives. However, this approach has also received strong opposition, intensifying divisions in the USA where the homicide rate surged in 2020.
What can local governments do? Reducing the rate and societal impacts of crime is a multifaceted issue. Many of the best practice case studies we highlight this week focus on effective collaboration between relevant agencies.
Who inspired us this week? This week, we liked Denmark’s ‘Good Release’ blueprint for prisoners reentering society, Philadelphia’s support for businesses hiring recently incarcerated people and Eugene, Oregon’s behavioural health crisis team that reduces unnecessary police contact for people in distress.
Follow us on Twitter at @GlobalLocalLGIU to read a new guest blog about supporting prison leavers by London-based charity Switchback later this week.

What is the Local Government Information Unit?
We are a non-profit, non-partisan organisation for anyone with a passion for local democracy and finding local solutions to global challenges.
Click here to find out more about Global Local from LGIU

This week's featured content

Nordic justice system:
guided by rehabilitation and working in partnership with local authorities 

By Emelie Lindelöw, LGIU Associate

Criminal justice in Nordic countries has received considerable international attention. Incarceration rates are among the lowest in the world, punishment policies are generally moderate and criminal justice policy rarely politicised.

Finland has an incarceration rate of 50 per 100,000 inhabitants compared to England’s 138 and Scotland’s 147 –  the highest in Western Europe. Articles depicting extraordinary open prisons, for example Suomenlinna Prison in Finland, where prisoners can leave the prison grounds and enjoy flat-screen TVs, spark curiosity worldwide. Although such facilities are rare, they really are part of a unique criminal justice system in the Nordics.

Scotland shows disheartening progress with community-based sentences, reports show declining standards in Welsh and English prisons and spending on prisons is under pressure; the UK is struggling to find the best way forward. There have also been recent calls to invest more in community alternatives for women and families that keep those families together. The Nordic prison system may serve as an inspiration for change.

Local government could, and should perhaps, play more of a role in the future trajectory of prisons in the UK. This briefing provides an overview of the Nordic prison system, including examples from Norway, Finland and Sweden and a detailed look at the partnership between local government and penal system in Denmark to reduce reoffending.

How can local governments play a more active role in the future of prisons, inspired by the Nordic system?

LGIU Global Local Highlights


Swift Read: Early Intervention for Reducing Organised Crime – Extending the scheme
An early intervention service for serious organised crime by charity Action for Children secured National Lottery funding to be extended from Glasgow to other UK cities in 2019. This briefing highlights why the scheme succeeded in Glasgow and how it could work elsewhere.
Read our content here.

Drug and alcohol-related deaths in Scotland and the UK: a national shame
2020 saw the largest number of drug-related deaths in the UK since records began in the 1990s. This briefing explores how UK drug reform policy could follow international best practice by moving away from the criminal justice lens and instead addressing the topic as a public health issue. 
Read our content here.

In Conversation With… Karyn McCluskey, Community Justice Scotland
LGIU Scotland’s Kim Fellows speaks to Karyn McCluskey, Chief Executive of Community Justice Scotland, all about prevention, justice and resilience. Read the blog here.

Innovation & Inspiration

Curated case studies and news from around the globe

USA: Home repair grants helped to bring down crime, study finds

A City of Philadelphia initiative providing investment for structural repairs to low-income homeowners had a lasting impact on reducing crime, according to new research. The initiative, launched in the late 1990s, offered residents grants of up to $20,000 to invest in structural repairs, including electrics, plumbing, heating and roof damage. The University of Pennsylvania study found that 22% less crime and 22% fewer homicides occured in blocks where houses were repaired, compared with those that did not receive funding. This reduction continued more than 10 years later, until at least 2013.
Bloomberg CityLab / Sarah Holder

Related: Philadelphia businesses offered incentives to hire recently imprisoned people through Fair Chance Hiring Initiative City of Philadelphia

Sweden: USA-inspired ‘Stop Shooting’ strategy helps to reduce gang violence in Malmö

A pilot City of Malmö scheme seeking to reduce shootings and explosions has been extended for three years. Shootings dropped consistently from 65 in 2017 to 20 in 2020, while explosions fell from 62 in 2017 to 17 in 2020. The scheme centres around “call-ins,” where gang members on probation are required to listen to community workers, councillors, doctors and families discuss gun violence’s impact on the whole community. If further shootings occur, their gang receives intense police scrutiny. Out of nearly 300 young men involved, around 40 were jailed and 49 received further support to leave gangs.
The Local Sweden & The Local Sweden / Anne Grietje Franssen

Related: Situation Tables connect highly vulnerable people with support services before a crisis occursGovernment of British Columbia, Canada

Australia: Innovative crime prevention projects in at-risk areas receive State Government support

Victorian councils can receive support for innovative, evidence-based initiatives to address crime causes through Victorian Government forums and funding streams. A fund dedicated to crime prevention innovation has supported initiatives such as creating a culturally-embedded healing place for Aboriginal children and young people and a Banyule City Council project providing parenting, life skill and employment support for the local Somali-Australian community. Targeted forums encourage young people to share their safety concerns, with findings presented using a Data Walk as part of a New York University partnership. Other funds support safer urban design in public spaces and community-led crime prevention.
Victorian Government

Related: Melbourne councils partner for audits to improve safety in public spaces for women and gender-diverse people The Conversation / Nicole Kalms, Georgia May Johnson & Gill Matthewson

Greece: ‘Be Secure - Feel Secure’ framework aims to improve service coordination and community trust

A new framework seeks to help residents and workers in the Municipality of Piraeus to be safer and feel safer, by improving governance coordination, enhancing the appearance of vandalised and abandoned buildings and allowing physical and online threats to be reported on a digital platform. Piraeus contains one of the largest and busiest ports in Europe, very limited green space, high population density and low social cohesion. A collaborative Local Council for Crime Prevention including police and municipal representatives has been set up through the project, along with a Victim Support Unit offering psychosocial and legal guidance.
Urban Innovative Actions

Related: Chicago community safety centre seeks to learn from shared pandemic response to reduce violence collaboratively City of Chicago

Policy & Resources

Research, analysis and examples of policy in practice from leading institutes and places like yours

Breaking the Cycle of Youth Violence is a collection of case studies from the English Local Government Association (LGA) focusing on councils that have taken a ‘public health approach’. Be sure to sign up to our Global Local podcast in your favourite app so you don’t miss a forthcoming interview on Bradford’s approach to supporting youth to make better life choices and have better life chances.

The police service’s YouthLink programme in Calgary, Alberta in Canada runs a one or four day police school for Grade 6 students (11-12 year olds) targeted at communities that have a high volume of service calls or have been identified as having previously more difficult relationships with the police. It’s been designed to support trust and encourage safe practice.

While calls to ‘defund the police’ have often led to division and discord, in places like Eugene, Oregon in the US the police and city council have been developing alternative ways of dealing with difficult behaviours through the CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping out on the Streets) programme. Read a case study on the Vera website, an organisation dedicated to criminal justice reform.

In Los Angeles, the Mayor has established an Office of Re-entry focusing on helping former prisoners rebuild their lives. It is part of a regional partnership which brings together state, municipal and voluntary sector organisations to focus on policy formation and delivery. The Rand corporation and other partners have been part of helping to evaluate some of their programme work – you can read their evaluation of a project designed to help former prisoners get and keep jobs.

Interested in more LGIU Global Local content?

From Power to Service Delivery? The politics of ward boundary reform in Chicago

Following on from a 2017 blog, LGIU’s Hannah Muirhead takes a look at the intricate and highly political complexities behind the 2021 ward boundary remap in the City of Chicago and what progress, if any, has been made since the last remap to democratise the process. 
Read the blog here.

October Think Tank Review

What are think tanks in the UK, Ireland and Australia saying about levelling up, climate change, economic regeneration and more this month? 
Read the latest Think Tank Review here.

Online Training: Tackling Disinformation Online and Offline: 5 November

Disinformation online and offline is a growing and topical issue that affects all councils. There is no magic bullet to tackle disinformation but it can’t be ignored as it has an effect on councillors, council services and reputation, and even public safety. This course will look at how you can mitigate the impact of disinformation. 
Find out more and sign up here.

Thanks for reading!

Next week, we're focusing on how data and technology can be used to improve access and inclusion. In two weeks' time, we'll explore the challenges posed by misinformation and how local authorities can mitigate its impact online and offline.

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