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South-South regional cooperation for promoting best practices for crime prevention in the developing world

Background:

The main discussions concerning the development of good practices to prevent and control crime are taking place in the developed world. The conclusions about what is deemed effective have important implications for countries in the developing world; consultants, donor agencies and international organizations often base programmes and projects in developing countries on lessons learnt from the developed world. There is presently no mechanism in which lessons and ideas, on crime prevention and control, can be exchanged between and for policy makers and practitioners in the developing world. As the UN’s international body tasked with issues relating to crime prevention and criminal justice reform, the Office on Drugs and Crime is well placed to undertake this task.

Both Africa and the Caribbean region are characterized by a range of similar causal factors for crime and violence, including high levels of unemployment and income inequality, a significant involvement of juveniles in criminal activity, the proliferation of unlicensed firearms, and the critical need for police reform. In many cases high levels of lawlessness are concentrated in particular geographic areas, generally urban ghettos inhabited by the poor. In both societies, the poor, those least able to absorb the costs of victimization, are those most likely to be victims of crime. The cycle of increasing poverty and crime needs to be broken in order to ensure economic opportunities and public security for all. Both regions are also largely English speaking and have a range of NGOs and university based criminologists working on the problems of their societies. There is comparatively little external interaction with other experts from the developing world. The regions provide an ideal opportunity to begin the process of South-South dialogue on issues of crime control and prevention.

Objective:

Develop a systematic process of information exchange on lesson learning on crime prevention in the developing world. This would be carried out by building a network of information exchange between two regions in the developing world – the Caribbean and Southern Africa – both of which have high levels of crime

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased cooperation and information exchange between crime prevention and criminal justice practitioners working in southern Africa and the Caribbean
  • Refinement of national crime prevention strategies through review and evaluation and the application of good practices in new projects and/or action plans
  • Increased dissemination and exchange of lessons learned and good practices within and between the two regions through a publication and a web site
  • Enhanced research capacity on crime prevention strategies of the national crime prevention commissions and the Caribbean Community Task Force and the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization through the linking of tertiary-level learning institutions to policy units of Governments and by creating a cadre and regional network of experts. It is expected that a more holistic approach to crime reduction will ensue by providing direct inputs to various policy-making bodies

Implementation status:

Caribbean and Southern African project partners met at an interim meeting. They made recommendations to focus the project on five topic areas: community policing, violence prevention, conflict resolution and culture of legality, offender reintegration, and other projects. They agreed on the eligibility criteria for the above projects (current/on-going projects, finalized projects, provided such projects were still relevant to the current crime prevention situation; finalized, short-term projects (e.g. festive season crime prevention projects; projects that have already been subject to an independent evaluation, as well as those that have not; projects of comparative relevance to the South-South exchange; and projects that could be converted into policy recommendations).

Information on available projects and related crime prevention information have been posted on a specially created website.