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Safety inMaastricht

Outline conclusions

Summary of the integral safety analysis

The safety analysis reveals that Maastricht’s quality of life is under pressure, especially in the socially vulnerable neighbourhoods. Local residents feel insecure when nuisance is not tackled effectively — nuisance in the form of social nuisance such as drug use, loitering young people, and physical nuisance including vandalism, litter and rubbish, and overdue maintenance. When nuisance gains the upper hand, moral standards become weaker.

Nuisance, subversion, and the growing complexity of society threaten the quality of life in some of Maastricht’s neighbourhoods. This is detrimental to social cohesion in the neighbourhood. A neighbourhood in which intimidating persons or subversive or other criminals gain the upper hand or in which the diversity increases to an extent such that the residents no longer know or understand each other suffers from weakening moral standards. The local residents no longer know what they can expect from each other, there is no shared consensus about the neighbourhood’s standard and values, and the residents’ collective resilience is impaired — which is in turn detrimental to the informal social control needed for the self-control of the neighbourhood. This ultimately results in litter and rubbish, decay, increased feelings of insecurity, and increased risks of vulnerable residents being misused by criminals.

Organized crime

Nuisance and crime that impacts residents directly can be accompanied by organized crime in which there are no direct victims. This is indissolubly connected with subversion. Criminals increasingly take over the role of the authorities in the neighbourhood. Criminals, for example, offer protection from nuisance by the use of intimidation or violence, or act as illegal money lenders for residents with debts. The residents wittingly or unwittingly become dependent on criminals. The residents of neighbourhoods in which criminality and deviant behaviour gain the upper hand lose confidence in the authorities. Improving the perception of security in Maastricht requires the adequate approach to tackling subversive and other forms of crime and nuisance in the neighbourhood needed to improve the collective resilience of the neighbourhoods.

Cross-border approach

The coalition agreement states that national and cross-border subversive crime must be tackled at local, regional, and Euregional level. This will need an awareness at political and administrative and policy-setting levels that this is a major threat. It will also need a willingness to invest in the fight against subversive practices and to experiment with unorthodox methods. This fight against subversive crime means that the authorities will, much more than is currently the case, need to cooperate with each other, understand each other, and share information with each other. Residents will also need to be made resilient to criminality. Residents must regain confidence in the authorities’ ability to protect and help them. Close public-private cooperation will be of essential importance to the fight against subversive criminality.

Safety long-term programme

The Maastricht, onbegrensd en ontspannen (Maastricht, limitless and relaxed) coalition agreement was signed on 11 June 2018. This agreement includes the statement that Maastricht needs to be a safe, sustainable, and vital city that offers its residents, businesses, and visitors an appealing place to live, work, and stay. This can be achieved only when we make the right choices in the coming Safety Long-term Programme. We will also need to place and maintain the focus on the really important themes in the coming years.

Area scan

Districts and neighbourhoods have an increasingly greater need of a clean and pleasant safe living environment. This requires an integral area scan at neighbourhood level. We can use these results to determine and monitor the issues that are detrimental to the residents’ perceptions of quality of life and security and to assess the most appropriate approach to tackling these issues.

Cooperation

We also need to cooperate more closely in tackling the problems of subversion, radicalization/polarization, drugs, persons with mental health problems, multi-problem families, and vulnerable young people. The challenge confronting us is to adopt an integral approach both within our municipality and in cooperation with our local and regional partners. This in turn requires consensus on the objectives and a focus on the adopted approach.