The President of Chile, Sebastian Piñera, presented the so-called Plan Calle Segura to the National Congress, aimed at preventing crime in the public spaces of cities and that extends preventive identity controls and authorises it to apply it from the age of fourteen.
One of the justifications for going ahead with this plan is because it is considered that the primary concern of Chileans is crime and drug trafficking and so this must be addressed.
As part of the plan #CalleSegura an intense Agenda of Public Security was put into place, including the modernisation of the police and the investigations police service, a greater police presence in the streets with over 3,000 officers, an important investment in technology with cameras and drones and the so-called Antiportonazos Law.
This law must allow officers to carry out controls in the streets with greater ease, including the inspection of clothes, backpacks and accessories when it is appropriate to prevent, in accordance with this law, crimes more effectively. It will also involve anyone over fourteen, given that according to Chilean police statistics, between 20 and 30% of violent crime – theft with violence, ambushes, etc. – are committed by youths.
Despite the low rate of complaints for inappropriate conduct against officers during such procedures, the law also includes measures to prevent abuse and discrimination. And this law comes into being with numerous voices that have questioned the legitimacy and utility of this measure.
One of the most questioned aspects of the new law is that as part of a plan to deter criminal conduct, it is expected that technology –cameras, drones, registration plate readers…- collaborate to control crimes taking place in the street.
Accordingly, with comparative experience and what is stressed by urban criminology, the limits of such types of initiatives are explained, not only in terms of the perception of security, but also with relation to the reduction of crime in urban spaces. Therefore, opting for an investment in technology as government policy can turn out to be insufficient.
Some voices have warned defenders of the Plan Calle Segura that crime control not only involves surveillance of streets and technological control of the environment, as an appropriate and balanced planning of public spaces and cities must also be considered.