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The 28th German Prevention Congress, including the 16th Annual International Forum (AIF), is a significant global event organized by the German Congress on Crime Prevention (Deutscher Präventionstag).

It takes place on June 12 and 13, 2023, and attracts participants from various countries, fostering a global dialogue on prevention and safety. The event's mission is to address pressing issues related to prevention, safety, and well-being, and it plays a crucial role in shaping strategies and initiatives that safeguard communities and build resilient societies.

The International Prevention Day serves as a remarkable platform for collaboration, knowledge exchange, and sharing insights, best practices, and innovative approaches. It promotes international cooperation, allowing countries to learn from one another and address common issues.

The event features a comprehensive program with keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities where renowned experts and practitioners share their insights, research findings, and successful strategies. It focuses on specific themes and topics of global relevance, such as crime prevention, community safety, public health, environmental protection, cybercrime, social cohesion, and more. By exploring these themes and interconnected topics, the event provides participants with valuable insights and practical tools for effective prevention strategies.

The event adopts a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating diverse disciplines, and serves as a hub for knowledge sharing, capacity building, policy development, and advocacy. It acts as a catalyst for positive change, driving global collaboration and fostering a network of prevention experts committed to improving well-being worldwide.

Through international collaborations and partnerships, participants can connect, share expertise, and initiate joint research projects and initiatives. The event transcends borders, promoting cross-cultural understanding and the adaptation of successful prevention models. It fuels progress in public health and safety, celebrating achievements, inspiring innovation, and implementing effective strategies.

By connecting experts, stakeholders, and nations, the International Prevention Day shapes the prevention landscape and creates a healthier, more secure, and inclusive world for future generations.


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Friday, 27 January 2023 11:48

A dear friend

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We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend Günter Halvax.

He has worked without hesitation to support the European Neighbourhood Watch Association and contributed significantly to its growth and development.

His tireless work, extraordinary dedication and commitment will never cease to be remembered. He was a true pioneer. A beloved and respected friend. A model of enthusiasm and passion that inspired all those who were lucky enough to know him.

Let us gather its fruits and seize its example of integrity and dedication to the community.

We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Thank you, Günter, for your valuable contribution to making our communities better and safer.

We will miss you. Rest in peace, dear friend.












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Speech at the National Association of Neighbourhood Watch National Conference "Participatory Security and Horizontal Subsidiarity" - 8 October 2022 - Venice

by Mauro Bardi (Member of EUNWA Board)

Here is some food for thought: today we are not dealing with a starting hypothesis and an ending thesis, but with the proposal of certain aspects that may be of interest for our general topic.

The first aspect we briefly wish to address is the content of the principle of subsidiarity.

The principle of subsidiarity represents a technique, of administrative nature, that aims at transferring functions (or even the mere performance of functions), typical of certain organs and traits of the central state, to other subjects and entities.

Within the principle one can distinguish:

  • vertical subsidiarity, under which the central state may transfer certain functions of administrative nature to lower-ranking local authorities, i.e.: regions, metropolitan cities, and municipalities.
  • subsidiarity, which can be defined as horizontal, whereby the central state and other public authorities (including local ones) can favour and strengthen the autonomous initiative of citizens, both individual and associated. Therefore, on the basis of this principle, certain functions typical of public authorities can also be performed by citizens, by private citizens in individual or associated form.

Having made this argumentative premise, we can affirm how the theory, activity and practice of Neighbourhood Watch can be inscribed within the principle of horizontal subsidiarity: Neighbourhood Watch, in fact, can contribute to the improvement of urban security (or sense of security) brought about and organised not by public powers, but by the initiative of citizens.

Now, we must go deeper and focus, first of all, on what is the basic mission of Neighbourhood Watch activity.

This is identified - first and foremost - in the attempt to set up strategies to prevent, or minimise the impact and effects, of certain crimes: in particular, crimes against property, commissions of house burglaries (and all the profiteering that can occur within the home).

Within this perspective (and set of intentions), Neighbourhood Watch (in its theory and practice) is concerned, first of all, with typifying (or cataloguing) offences against property (and specifically those indicated above) and then with identifying typical strategies relating to the prevention of such offences.

This activity leads, again in theory and in practice, to the typification of the behaviour, actions, and manners of the perpetrator in the context of the above-mentioned offences against property. At this point, however, there is a missing piece: there is an aspect to which the activity, theory and practice of Neighbourhood Watch should turn its attention the victims of property crimes.

Neighbourhood Watch actually only considers the victim of property crimes from one point of view: the one of the potential victim.

In other words, the victim is only considered in the space/time phase of pre-victimisation, through the identification of who could be an ideal potential or abstract victim: in other words, the ideal-physical victims of crimes against property. This way, in fact, all those environmental, material, and personal vulnerabilities that may favour or facilitate the commission of property crimes are also identified.

But as regards of the actual victimisation, the actual moment when the offence has been consummated and has created patrimonial or non-patrimonial damage to the victim, what prospects can we encounter?

Shifting the focus to the victims of crime (i.e., those who have immediately been victimised), leads us to rethink the function not only of all those strategies of preventive nature, but also of all possible interventions subsequent to the commission of the crime.

First of all, we can think and reflect on the question of criminal law, in particular on the function of punishment (generally, the criminal reaction). However, we do not consider this function in reference to the perpetrator and his harmful or dangerous actions, but in relation to the victim, in whose head vague expectations of justice often coagulate.

Therefore, we ask ourselves: what is the function of punishment from the perspective of the crime victim?

We may have different visions, different conceptions of punishment and criminal reaction.

Let’s examine them precisely in perspective and in relation to the victim.

One can introduce a retributive view of punishment: the view that the evil that has been committed by the offender with the crime must be answered with the corresponding evil that is an afflictive punishment.

Does this retributive view of punishment have either restorative or beneficial effects on the victim?

In view of this question, some doubts may arise.

On this point, one could refer to the thought of one of the most considered and esteemed scholars of criminal law, Giovanni Fiandaca.

The author states that:

"...the studies on victim’s psychology, currently available, highlight that the heart of the victims is crossed by contradictory reactions and partly dark feelings, to which real traumatic aspects are added in case of most serious crimes. In order to process the suffering and achieve moral reparation for the damage suffered, it is not enough for the victim to be satisfied by an afflictive punishment applied to the offender. Rather, the need for a psychological process of elaboration and for the grief of victimisation arises, and this has led to the prospect of a new track of criminal justice aimed at the re-education of lives"[1].

Therefore, summarising Fiandaca's words, the application of punishment, understood as retributive and afflictive punishment, doesn’t necessarily have useful effects on the victim. The penalty, in fact, concerns the perpetrator, and the victim runs the risk of being left without satisfaction and reparation.

On the basis of another concept, punishment can be considered from a preventive perspective. It can therefore be understood as an instrument of dissuasive (deterrent) pressure against the commission of offences. Again, this function of punishment does not have any particular beneficial or useful effect on the victim of the crime. Deterrence and dissuasion, in fact, are specifically directed against the potential perpetrator or, in the case of special prevention, against the actualperpetrator, but do not immediately and directly involve the victim and the harm he or she has suffered as a result of the offence.

In the same way, a re-educative view of punishment is not able to deploy particular effects towards the victim of the offence, but focuses considerably on the offender, understood as a subject in need of social rehabilitation.

It is therefore necessary to introduce a more modern perspective and vision, a vision that calls into question the so-called restorative justice: a series of procedures and interventions that, involving - also in a dialogic form - the offender, the victim, and the observing community, are able - as much as possible - to overcome the negative effects of the criminal conduct and to mend the communication and comprehension gap that the offence has created.

Having made this premise about the function of penal reaction (and ordinal reaction), about the perspective of punishment in relation not so much to the offender but rather in relation to the victim, we can ask ourselves a question, a problem; which is not only a problem but also a challenge.

Remaining within the framework of the principle of horizontal subsidiarity that we set out earlier, can we transfer the commitment, theory, and practice of Neighbourhood Watch to the area of victim-centred care?

In the introduction, we presented the concept according to which, the theory, the practice of Neighbourhood Watch deal with prevention, typification of prevention strategies, typification of offences, and typification of offender behaviour. The offence victim is only considered as a potential victim: therefore, the space/time phase of pre-victimisation is mainly, or almost exclusively, examined. Generally speaking, we can therefore observe how the theory and practice of Neighbourhood Watch do not deal directly with the actual victim, those who have actually suffered harm as a result of the crime.

At this point, we can introduce a normative source which, for the purposes of our general argument, may be very relevant.

In particular, we refer to Directive number 29 of 2012 of the European Union (which has been transposed in a not particularly complete way within Italian law by Legislative Decree number 212 of 2015) establishing minimum standards on the rights, assistance and protection of the victims of crime (it should be noted that, within the category of crime victims, all those who have suffered prejudice as a result of a criminal offence are included, and not only the victims of certain crimes - such as, for example, domestic violence or gender violence).

We refer in particular to Articles 8 and 9 of the aforementioned directive.

Article 8 identifies victim support centres and services. In particular, paragraph 4 states that victim support services may be established as public or non-governmental (i.e., private) organisations. In this section, the principle of horizontal subsidiarity is recalled, within which subjects that do not belong to public organisations are involved in carrying out activities that are typical of public authorities (i.e. assistance to victims of crime).

Therefore, Article 8 of the Directive indicates that assistance to victims of crime can be carried out by private people, also in the form of voluntary work, in the form of a ngo organisation.

Article 9 of the directive, then, identifies the assistance provided by the victim support services, and centres, in particular:

  • information, advice, and assistance on the rights of the offended person
  • information on possible and relevant specialist (social and health) support services;
  • emotional support, where available psychological support, advice on financial and practical aspects deriving from the crime;
  • advice concerning the risk and prevention of secondary victimisation and, in particular, of re-offending.

Now, let us come to some sort of conclusion.

First of all: we are faced with two structures that denote a certain parallelism.

On one hand, we have the Neighbourhood Watch groups that, as part of the horizontal subsidiarity principle, are concerned with the prevention of certain crimes (as detailed above).

On the other hand, we have the crime victim support centres which, again as part of the implementation and application of a horizontal subsidiarity principle, deal with assistance to victims of crime.

We can ask ourselves, then, can the centres, the subjects that deal with Neighbourhood Watch, also deal with the victims?

We have already noted that these two structures have some parallels.

Neighbourhood Watch and Neighbourhood Watch practitioners are distinguished by certain specialisations towards the prevention of property crime. Victim assistance centres, on the other hand, are characterised by a specialisation in victimology, as working with crime victims is an extremely delicate activity. One of the sayings of victimology is indeed 'first of all no more harms'.

Is it possible, however, for Neighbourhood Watch groups to provide initial assistance to victims of crime (first to victims of property crime, then possibly also to victims of other crimes), so that they are properly directed to victim support centres for competent and specialised care?

In this sense, Neighbourhood Watch centres could become victim interceptors and could direct victims to the assistance centres. It is clear that a certain organisation is needed to carry out this design: an organisation within the Neighbourhood Watch centres, and an organisation within the crime victim assistance centres, and especially a continuous coordination and dialogue between these two structures.

[1] G. Fiandaca, Prima lezione di diritto penale (First lesson in criminal law), Laterza, Bari-Roma, 2017, p.16.

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E.U.N.W.A. Spirit

An informal atmosphere and a great desire to meet again in person. An opportunity to exchange experiences and network. A common interest in learning more about the realities of Neighbourhood Watch in the different European countries. This is the climate and spirit that characterised the sixth annual meeting of EUNWA.

After two years of virtual meetings, we finally met 'in person' in Venice on October 7th. As in previous years, the meeting was attended by representatives of Neighbourhood Watch associations from several European countries, public administrators, subject-matter experts, representatives of Law Enforcement Agencies, representatives of civil society, and academics.

A different format for our annual meeting

As you may have noticed from the title of the event, 'Awarding excellence: the French case', this year we focused specifically on the French experience of Voisins Vigilantes and Solidaires. This new format of our annual meeting responds to the need for a deeper knowledge of the various national realities of Neighbourhood Watch. Indeed, this format gives the awarding country the opportunity to present its activities in depth and share its national experience with others.

Over the past year, we have been working hard to reconnect with European Neighbourhood Watch associations and re-launch our network. We took advantage of the pandemic to completely rebuild our website, browsing in all European languages, and launched a multilingual online questionnaire to survey the situation of Neighbourhood Watch in Europe.

EUNWA's last publication on the state-of-the-art of Neighbourhood Watch in Europe “White Book”, dates back to 2015. Since then, many things have changed and are still changing in front of our eyes. We, therefore, are planning to publish a new edition of the book in 2023.

This year's EUNWA annual meeting included the Mythos Award event to honour European citizens who have most distinguished themselves in promoting Neighbourhood Watch in their community. This is an event that we would like to repeat annually for each individual country or group of countries.

Where we have met

This year our annual meeting was held at Palazzo Corner della Ca' Granda or simply Ca' Corner. It is an imposing Renaissance palace in Venice, located in the district of San Marco and overlooking the Grand Canal. It is the seat of the Metropolitan City of Venice and the Prefecture.

Ca' Corner was designed by the architect Jacopo Sansovino after afire destroyed the Corner family's previous residence, Palazzo Malombra, in 1532. In 1817 the palace was ceded by Andrea Corner to the Austrian Empire, which placed there the Imperial Royal Provincial Delegation and later also the Imperial Royal Lieutenancy, corresponding to the Prefecture. Later, when Venice was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy, it retained the same destination, which still exists today.

Situated in a prestigious location not far from Piazza San Marco, the palace is characterised by its monumentality, already highlighted by its appellation Ca' Granda (Big House), which breaks the sequence of neighbouring palaces with its prominence.


The event was attended by a large delegation from the French association Voisins Vigilantes et Solidaires, delegations from the Austrian, Danish, Estonian, Moldavian, and Italian Neighbourhood Watch associations, and one from Associazione Nazionale Controllo di Vicinato, representing the various associations and partners that are members of the Italian national network. Also present were municipal administrators, representatives of Law Enforcement Agencies, representatives of social organisations and of the academic world.

Delegates from various European countries would have certainly been more numerous but, unfortunately, due to some organisational and logistical problems caused by the new format of the event, our communication was delayed. This prevented many of our partners from attending the event due to the short notice. We apologise and promise to be much more efficient in organising the next event.


The meeting was opened by the Councillor of the Metropolitan City of Venice, Enrico Gavagnin, who welcomed the participants
and brought greetings from the city authorities.

Then the honorary president of EUNWA, Karl Brunnbauer, spoke, updating those present on the latest EUNWA news, such as the relocation of the headquarters from Vienna to Venice, the new EUNWA website (browsable in all European languages), the novelty of the Mythos Award, the still in progress work to strengthen relations with all our partners, and last but not least, the survey on the situation of the various Neighbourhood Watch experiences in Europe through the distribution of an accurate on-line questionnaire. President Leonardo Campanale spoke next, focusing on the pros and cons of virtual versus real communities and the importance of neighbourhood micro-communities as a basis for the development and growth of strong, free, and cohesive communities. Vice-President Roberta Bravi concluded the speeches, focusing on the importance of cooperation at European level and the importance of public policies on security.

Awarding Excellence: The France case

The Mythos award, conceived by Councillor Enrico Gavagnin and organised by his staff, is an important opportunity to reward European citizens who have distinguished themselves in their communities in promoting and organising the practice of Neighbourhood Watch, and it’s an opportunity for organisations from a specific country to share with other European associations their story, progress, challenges, and the tools they use to promote the project.

The EUNWA Board decided to begin with France, which has seen incredible growth in a relatively short time (one million adherents, second only to Neighbourhood Watch UK which has three and a half million) and has developed a robust web platform to develop the Voisins Vigilantes et Solidaires network that EUNWA is currently studying as a best practice.

In addition to Thierry Chicha, president of VVS, French citizens Jack Cabral and Anthony Delbecq were awarded the Mythos Prize for their commitment to the development of Neighbourhood Watch in France.

The Voisins Vigilantes et Solidaires web platform

The event continued with an explanation, by President Thierry Chicha, of the evolution of the VVS system over the last twenty years and the presentation of its web platform, designed to facilitate real encounters between citizens who join it. The web platform has different interfaces for citizens, municipal administrations, and the French State Police, to facilitate dialogue between citizens and institutions. The platform attracted a lot of interest, and many questions were asked about how it works.



We would like to thank the Metropolitan City of Venice for its hospitality and generous contribution, the Mythos hotel group for sponsoring the event and naming the award, the Municipality of Venice, City Councillor Enrico Gavagnin for conceiving the event and coordinating the support team, the support team itself: Camilla, Sophia, Rui, Maria Cristina, and Fausto, and the guests from Italy and other countries.

Where shall we meet next year?

EUNWA has organised its six annual meetings (2014, 2016 in Austria, 2015, 2019 and 2022 in Italy, 2018 in Greece) mainly in Central and Southern Europe. We are a European network and therefore think it is appropriate to organise the next events in Northern Europe. Applications are now open!

The day after

The following day, October 8th, the EUNWA board participated in the national conference of the “Associazione Nazionale
Controllo di Vicinato”, (the Italian network of Neighbourhood Watch), where public administrators, Law Enforcement Agencies and representatives of Italian associations discussed the topic 'Participatory Security and Horizontal Subsidiarity'.

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Karl Brunnbauer (Honorary President) EN FR IT

Leonardo Campanale (President) EN FR IT

Roberta Bravi (Vice-President) EN FR IT

Thierry Chicha (VVS President) EN FR IT



Wednesday, 21 September 2022 11:24

Awarding excellence

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After two years of virtual meetings, we are happy to inform you that the EUNWA annual event is finally back “in person” and we would like to warmly invite you to join it!

This year the event will take place in Venice, Italy, on October 7th, and we hope it will gather, as the previous years, a wide range of participants: representatives of Neighbourhood Watch associations, scientists, practitioners, subject matter experts, representatives of law enforcement agencies, civil society representatives, academics.

EUNWA has the ambition to become a centre for the study and documentation of participatory security in Europe, and this requires in-depth knowledge of each national reality. Therefore, its Board has decided, as of this year, to change the format of its annual meetings. Based on the experience of our past meetings, we have found it more profitable to focus on one country at a time, in order to better understand it. This year the French Neighbourhood Watch (Voisins Vigilants et Solidaires - VVS) will be the main focus.

Two French citizens who are members of the Voisins Vigilants et Solidaires network and its President, Thierry Chicha, will be honoured with the “Mythos Award”, a prize created in collaboration with the Metropolitan City of Venice and the Mythos hotel chain, which aims to reward citizens who have particularly distinguished themselves for their commitment to promoting “participatory security” in their communities.

The award ceremony will be held in the prestigious venue of the Metropolitan City of Venice, PALAZZO CA' CORNER, Nassivera Hall, San Marco 2662, 30124 Venezia – Italy.

The event will be attended by local civil authorities and representatives of Italian and European Neighbourhood Watch associations.

During the event, our French friends will illustrate the development strategy of their network that has led them to reach one million members in just a few years. They will also present the VVS web platform, whose development and dissemination have been crucial to their growth.

We count on your active participation in order to make this event successful!  

Registration to the event is required. Registration link here: https://forms.gle/riEkQegJaTj8aJrE7


Looking forward to seeing you in Venice!


the EUNWA Board


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Monday, 22 August 2022 09:29

Neighbourhood Watch: a matter of trust

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The Neighbourhood Watch programme has its roots in the criminological 'Situational Prevention' and 'Theory of Routine Activity’. The scope of intervention of Neighbourhood Watch is very specific, and never overlaps with the functions performed by the police: the repression of offenders remains an exclusive domain of the law enforcement agencies.

However, participating in community security requires not only a significant cultural change on the part of the institutions and the police, but also a cultural change in civil society.

It is not enough for citizens to trust the police and for the police to trust citizens, but it is also necessary for citizens to trust each other. It is fundamental to realise that security is an issue for the whole community, and that there is a strong interdependence between your own security (real and perceived) and your neighbour’s.

How the Neighbourhood Watch works

Residents can interpret and understand the private space and context in which they live (be it people or situations) better than the police, which makes them capable of identifying risks and criticalities in private contexts that the police do not routinely monitor and in which most predatory crimes occur. With Neighbourhood Watch, this interpretative ability is made available to the police for a better chance to intervene in the prevention and repression of petty crime. The knowledge and ability to interpret the context characterised by micro-community places represent an added value for citizens in participatory processes, both related to security and to many other aspects of community life.

Another important aspect is that residents are the only ones who can implement specific passive prevention actions in their private spaces for specific vulnerabilities (e.g., install high quality locks, install alarm systems, change of habits and behaviour, etc.).

Different approaches

The emergence and development of the Neighbourhood Watch in Europe has followed different paths depending on the history, political situation, and regulatory framework of each country. However, they all have in common two possible approaches to launch the programme: top-down or bottom-up approach.

Top-down approach means promoting the Programme through the institutions. This approach assumes an initial relationship of trust between citizens and police and can last as long as this trust relationship remains high. If the trust relationship breaks down, there is a high probability that citizens will stop cooperating with the police. This approach is difficult to apply where there is a historical distrust between citizens, institutions, and the police.

In Bottom-up approach citizens self-organise into Neighbourhood Watch groups. In many European countries, Neighbourhood Watch was established directly by citizens, and only later supported by the institutions and police (e.g., in France or Italy). In areas where Neighbourhood Watch started from the bottom-up, there was a good level of social cohesion and sense of community, and a good response from the mayors and local police. On the other hand, Neighbourhood Watch hardly started in areas where individualism is highly developed and social solidarity is lacking.

However, there are still some countries in Europe where the Neighbourhood Watch is barely tolerated by the authorities due to historical and cultural factors. These factors can be summarised in an atavistic distrust of citizens towards institutions, or a suspicion towards citizens' participation in the security of their communities, seen as interference in the institutional activities of law enforcement agencies.

Positive side effects

Based on Neighbourhood Watch experiences in both Western and Eastern Europe, some recurring positive side effects have been observed:

  1. reduction of perceived insecurity in the communities (this is extremely important because very often people think, and vote, based on this perception and rarely on objective crime statistics.);
  2. reduction of petty crime rate (the Ministries of the Interior of several European countries claim a reduction in crime from 20 to 40 per cent in areas where this programme is well developed.);
  3. improved citizen dialogue with police and institutions (dialogue is better structured where community policing policies have been implemented.)

Where Neighbourhood Watch is implemented and there is a good level of cooperation among neighbours and between neighbours and the police, we generally witness:

  1. an increase in social cohesion and citizens' sense of belonging to their community;
  2. an intensification of dialogue between citizens and institutions (especially at local level);
  3. a readiness of the institutions to develop processes of participatory democracy and the willingness of citizens to participate in them.

Ready for Neighbourhood Watch?

If the society is not ready for the promotion of Neighbourhood Watch programmes, by introducing into the public debate the principle that security is a matter not only for institutions but also for each individual citizen, the consequences could be counterproductive. Its 'forced' introduction could generate a perception of a loss of authority and status on the part of the police, and a fear of being 'evaluated' by citizens or, on the part of citizens, of becoming 'confidants' of the police. Instead, we are deeply convinced (and experiences in the field have proven it) that listening to citizens about their security needs and involving them, within a clear and defined legal framework, does not mean a loss of authority, status, or professionalism on the part of the police, but an increase in the latter's ability to prevent and repress crime.

Leonardo Campanale - EUNWA President

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