Thomas Feltes: “The security-freedom-dilemma is a chimera”

Thomas FeltesThomas F. Feltes (1951) is University Professor in Criminology and Police Science at the Law Faculty, Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany. He teaches law and is responsible for the advanced Masters Program in Criminology, Criminalistics, and Police Science since 2005. From 1992 until 2002 he served as the Director of the University of Applied Police Science in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. Thomas Feltes earned his PhD in law and his M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Bielefeld, Germany. From 1979 until 1992 he did criminological research and academic teaching at the law faculties in Bielefeld, Hamburg, Heidelberg, and Tuebingen. Feltes is a member of Scientific Board of the International Society of Criminology. He is the (co-)author and editor of over 200 books and articles on policing, juvenile law, sentencing, alternative sanctions, public prosecution and the editor of the “Polizei-Newsletter”, a monthly Email-newsletter, published in four languages (e.g. Spanish). From 2018 on he will be the German representative in the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).

Dear Professor Feltes, in last times you have insisted on the need to integrate different actors in order to keep the levels of security within reasonable boundaries. This position that comes from somebody with a long trajectory of responsibilities in the Public Sector looks a bit surprising.

Which is the reason why we should transform the traditional state’s monopoly in the field of security in a co-production of security with actors that may not have public interests? Is it not a privatisation of policing?

In fact, the privatisation of policing already exists since many years, and we do not have such a monopoly in reality. Criminologists talk about “plural policing”, reflecting the fact, that not only private security companies work for individuals and corporations, but also corporations have their own security system and even their own system of prosecution, with internal punishment or retribution. Police increasingly works with other government agencies, the third sector, community organisations and the private sector, and they have to cooperate. For example: If we talk about community policing, many local and private actors are involved in this system of improving the relation between police and citizens and in improving the feelings of security in a local community. The main point is: the state has to control all these diverse efforts of policing, no matter who does it and where it is done.

You have worked long time in the field security around Bundesliga (and football in general) matches. Do you think that there we have a good example of public-private co-production of security? How do you assess your experience in this area? Do you think that we have found a way ahead? Which are the key factors to be taken into account?

Football matches are a good example for plural policing: As we could show in analysing the security structures of a regular match, up to 30 different direct or indirect providers of security are involved: from the DFB and DFL over the public transportation systems down to the local police and the local clubs. The latter ones usually have their own security, responsible inside of the arenas, and hired private security personnel, responsible e.g. for the entrance control. They must also cooperate intensively with the local police and the federal police. Usually a security talk takes place in advance, where the different responsibilities and the overall strategy to police the match are discussed.

Is co-production applicable to any public policy? Would you apply it to cope with the large wave of refugees that arrived recently in Germany? By the way, doesn’t it imply a high risk for internal security? Is sensible to admit such a large amount of refugees?

There is a co-production of security in our everyday business. Private security guards are working in shopping malls, in train stations, in subways and they are responsible for the protection of private and government buildings. Concerning refugees, the security of camps and apartment-buildings, where refugees live, are usually the task of private security companies. The police does not have the personnel to take over this task too and police is too expensive. The problem with private security guards is the selection and the control. After some scandals, the problem now seems to be solved. Applicants are better checked, better trained, and better controlled now. Refugees are not committing more crimes than the equivalent German population, if we take gender and age into account. And most of the crimes committed by refugees are either between themselves (due to the situation in camps), or relate to crimes in connection with border laws.

How do you assess the current wave of very hard legislation (in terms of human rights restrictions) in order to tackle terrorism? Is it moral? Is it necessary? Is it useful? Do you think that the alleged dilemma security-freedom is real or just an argument to get the rights’ restrictions accepted?

This is, in fact, pure symbolic policy. Politicians are under enormous pressure by the public and the media. These laws do not tackle terrorism at all, but politicians see no other options to give the citizens the feeling, that they are capable of acting. We do have good programs to prevent that young people join terroristic groups or radical islamic circles, but these programs have a medium or long-range effect only. The so-called security-freedom-dilemma is a chimera: we are living in societies and neighbourhoods, which are safer than ever (crime is on the decline since years), but our citizens feel more alienated than ever. The reasons are manifold: the idea of a real European Union is fading, the negative effects of globalisation are getting closer, people are getting older and feel more insecure due to fading health care systems and unclear pensions. And finally: politicians do not provide the citizens with the feeling that they are able to cope with all these problems. They look more like a bunch of chickens, running around with their heads cut off… People are losing trust in politics, and we can see the results everywhere with rightist parties getting more and more acceptance.



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Commissioner Cristina Manresa: “Thorough planning is the key to success”

Comissària Cristina ManresaCommissioner Cristina Manresa Llop, born in Barcelona in 1968, has a 19 year-old son and lives in Badalona. With a diploma in Criminology and a degree in the History of Art awarded by Barcelona University, she joined the Mossos d’Esquadra on its fourth promotion – 26 years ago – and became a commissioner after having experience of all ranks. She believes this is important because having provided different services and having been in different situations have given her an insight and given her knowledge of the difficult task faced by police officers, and have taught her to value the important things in life.

She is currently Head of the North Metropolitan Division and has been Director of the security plan of the Mobile World Congress since 2013.

She has been given several awards and prizes, she is a member of the ethics committee of the Catalan police force and has spent years taking part in teaching and training activities, and giving lectures.

What is your appraisal of the safety features of the latest edition of the Mobile World Congress?

Very positive, nothing of note has happened in a congress which has set a new record, with 108,000 people, which amounts to a rise of 7% compared with the previous year. The crime rate applicable to each 1,000 visitors has been 0.34, a lower rate than the one recorded in 2016, which was 0.36. The number of crimes has remained stable with a reduction of 13% being committed on public transport and with 91% consisting of thefts.

We feel proud of the work done by the police forces, emergency services which along with the organisers of the MWC, the managers of the Barcelona Fair and Barcelona’s tourism department, have contributed to overseeing the security of those attending the congress and the smooth organisation of this event. That’s teamwork!!

What planning, preventive, emergency, and public security tools enable you to help and offer protection to people during these big events?

Our work is based on a Directive Security Plan (PDS), a document which states the objectives and features of the event and organises different tasks for those involved so that we are effectively coordinated. Eight programmes which include public security police resources, public order, intelligence, mobility, civil protection, accommodation, etc.

As part of the preventive policy, the PG-ME has promoted the distribution of information from security councils on the social network of the Mossos d’Esquadra and on 112. And material has been distributed with basic security measures to those attending the congress with the aim of preventing crime such as informative panels on transport, posters and leaflets in different languages. These actions have been carried out in collaboration with different entities participating in the organisation and security of the event, such as the GSMA, Barcelona Convention Bureau and the Association of Hotels.

 In what way, from a planning perspective, does it have an impact having so many actors (public and private) from different fields and administrations, in the same event? Is the human factor vital in this sense?

Thorough planning is the key to success because there are many participants in the PG-ME with different specialities: GEI, Escortes, Subsol, Canina, Tedax, Hèlix, BRIMO, ARRO, Information, Public Security, Transport, etc. We also involve external personnel in our organisation, from other municipal police forces (Hospitalet and Barcelona) and external operators: The organising company, private security, emergencies, the Barcelona office of tourism, the council, transport companies, etc.

For this reason we begin to plan after the summer until the months of February or March which is when the MWC takes place.

There is an initial Meeting with all the representatives and we explain anything new and the chronogram, and afterwards the groups develop the services which will be provided and supervised by the plan’s direction team until the final three mechanisms take shape in three phases: Pre-alert, Alert, Maximum alert.

While the congress is taking place there are different daily meetings, with the plan’s direction team and the organisation first thing in the morning, with the police services and transport organisers.

When the MWC is over there is a debriefing session where suggestions for improvements from all services are gathered.

The human factor is fundamental, as knowing each of the operators greatly facilitates the task, we are a team and everyone works to make things better every year. The success of the MWC belongs to us all!!

What has been the most complex situation that you have had to address in recent MWCs? Is there any aspect or complication which crops up every year?

In 2016 with the new number 9 underground line because this was a new element and very much at a trial phase, we didn’t know how many people would use this line. On top of this, there was a transport strike and mobility got complicated.

Managing the queues and entry of those attending the congress to the venue securely is a challenge because of the issue of terrorism. Since 2015 we have identified all participants, we have increased the amount of personnel and have tightened security measures with containment elements at points of entry: pylons, metal detectors, scanners, dogs, etc.

Security advice which we communicate to those attending the congress via the PG-ME is, we feel, a good way to stop them becoming crime victims. Prevention is a good tool and we work on this before the congress by meeting up with the hotels, catering, and tourism associations and with other operators.

Have you been inspired or do you get inspired by any other type of similar event when you innovate with preventive and security measures? And, alternatively, have other security services or similar events been inspired by the work done here?

The experience of other events or services we, the PG-ME, work on have inspired us to develop the Directive Security Plan of the MWC. This is a document which sets out, in eight programmes, each of the particularities of the security services, the amount of personnel working on each task, place, timetables and other technical features. What I feel must be stressed about the PDS is that other external operators participate in the PG-ME. An integrating and transversal way of working with other administrations and private parties.

There has been interest in the working methods, and other police forces have reproduced the PDS model.

 As a woman and commissioner of the PGME, what is your opinion of the role of women in the Mossos d’Esquadra police service?

My assessment as a woman in command is that we should make an even bigger effort to achieve gender equality in the police force at all levels, and also at the level of being in charge, where the effect of the decisions made is more tangible. Here there remains work to be done. A police officer of the XXI century needs to be open and prepared to meet whatever challenges are set. A woman’s viewpoint is very important when developing security policies.


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