Our Vision & Mission

The European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) is the only European network dedicated to fostering discussion, cooperation and support among local and regional authorities in the field of crime prevention and urban security. Founded in 1987, it brings together more than 250 cities and regions from 17 countries. Recognized for its expertise by national and European institutions, Efus is a network that represents the diversity of territories and promotes the exchange of experience between local and regional authorities beyond political affiliations, according to the principle of cities helping cities.

Founded in 2010, the German-European Forum for Urban Security (DEFUS) organizes and represents the interests of the German Efus members. Comprising two organizations and 16 cities with about 11 million residents, DEFUS gives a voice to the security concerns of urban residents from smaller towns to metropolitan areas. We firmly embed our members in a close-knit international network and facilitate their participation in European projects. Our main work centers on the design and management of safe, secure and accessible public spaces, including crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED), the fostering the peaceful coexistence of social groups within those spaces, strategies for building urban resilience, and the effective and efficient administration of urban security.   

We pursue these goals in alignment with our vision of an urban security in service of socially just, equitable and sustainable cities. Therefore, collaborative decision making, multi-stakeholder integration, and the protection of vulnerable groups form the corner stones of our work. Since our founding, it has been our priority to create spaces of exchange in a broad variety of formats for all security-relevant branches in a city, from social workers, public administrators, and crime prevention experts to urban planners and emergency management professionals with the police and fire brigades.

DEFUS regularly offers its members security audits, webinars, workshops, ad-hoc exchanges on current issues and long-term training programs in our focus areas:

  • Security in public urban space
    • quality of life and security
    • subjective security
    • conflicts over uses of public space
    • crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED)
       
  • Peaceful coexistence in the city
    • secure and liveable cities for all
    • prevention of crime and violence
    • prevention of discrimination and racism
    • prevention of polarization and extremism
       
  • Urban security governance and administration
    • strategic planning for security and prevention
    • networks, bodies and opportunities for cooperation
    • security and well-being of municipal employees and elected officials
    • threat and risk management
       
  • Urban resilience
    • crisis management and disaster risk reduction
    • climate change adaptation and urban security
    • innovative technologies
    • COVID-19-pandemic response and recovery

Our Projects and Initiatives

 

DEFUS takes part in a broad range of projects in the field of urban safety and security. Our contributions mainly focus on the projects’ practical connection to the local level, the specific needs of municipal administrations and decision-makers, and ways to improve stakeholder integration for inclusivity.

PanReflex: Increasing urban resilience during complex and dynamic long-term crises: spaces of reflection for municipal crisis management (German)

The COVID-19 pandemic presented communities with near-unprecedented challenges of a dynamic and complex long-term crisis. At the same time, there was little guidance and institutional support from higher administrative levels available, forcing the cities to improvise and innovate. Together with the German Institute for Urban Affairs (Difu), DEFUS analyzes in this multi-year research project how German municipalities adapted to the crisis and what generalizable lessons can be drawn from their responses for the future of municipal crisis management. Three special focus areas are processes of crisis management, risk and crisis communication, and the treatment of vulnerable groups during the pandemic.

The research design comprises extensive literature reviews, expert interviews and document analyses, a structured comparison with international good-practice examples, and “spaces of reflection” workshops in which the specific experiences of practitioners on the front line will first be collected and synthesized, and subsequently employed in the search for innovative and reproducible solutions for other municipalities. The results will be presented in a digital platform for urban crisis management, a curated selection of good-practice recommendations, and a training cycle for fostering urban resilience on the local level.   

Secu4All: Training local authorities for the protection of soft targets in public spaces

Secu4All aims to empower local and regional authorities with theoretical knowledge and practical tools to ensure the security of public spaces and the protection of soft targets (i.e. sports venues, train stations, shopping centers, schools,…) against potential threats. Specific training programs will be developed in the following four areas: vulnerability assessment, crisis communication, innovative technologies & urban planning.

DEFUS organizes the adaptation of the training cycle in Germany, with a special emphasis on fostering a new exchange environment between different security-relevant branches in municipalities. The main objective is to create a common understanding and a mutually intelligible vocabulary on the security aspects of public spaces that will allow practitioners from different backgrounds to engage in effective and efficient communication for common problem-solving approaches.

Plan#B – Planning and demonstrating innovative and networked security solutions at the example of a blackout in a diverse metropolis (German) [currently in review, awaiting approval]

This research project explores ways in which the provision of public goods and services can be maintained under crisis conditions after a shock with cascading consequences in a metropolitan energy network. This includes the planning of fail-safe and backed-up communication systems for security and emergency personnel, the building of capacities and storage for essential goods and equipment, adapted operational plans for administrations and their agencies, and the creating of new local networks to retain agency in case of an incident. As an associated partner, DEFUS provides input on the needs of municipal decision-makers, and ways to better integrate the planned procedures with the efforts of prevention initiatives and the protection of vulnerable groups.

PUFII – prevention-oriented support for integration and inclusion (German)

Pufii is a corner stone of DEFUS’ and the German Prevention Congress’ efforts in the long-term prevention of hate crime, discrimination, polarization and extremism. As a central information platform, it bundles a vast array of actors, events, initiatives, publications and networking opportunities for the many interested parties involved in prevention activities in Germany.    

Climate Change and Community Safety / Urban Security

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of the coming decades for urban planning, governance, and security. In close cooperation with with the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention (CMNPC) and a network of international experts, DEFUS participates in an exploratory working group of the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) to link existing research on climate change impacts with our expertise of community safety and urban security. The working group has aims to interrogate the role of security and safety in current urban resilience strategies and find (so-far understudied) connections between the disparate fields of research. It also networks experts and practitioners involved in climate adaptation planning and urban security and provides them with a space for exchange as well as tangible, practically useful guidance for a safe and secure climate adaptation solutions in their cities. 

Safer Public Spaces Germany – International CPTED Association Affiliated Chapter (German)

The International CPTED Association is a global network of practitioners and experts on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) aiming to create open, secure and inclusive public spaces in our cities. Together with the German Prevention Congress (DPT) , DEFUS joined the network with the German Affiliated Chapter “Safer Public Spaces Germany” in July 2022.  As a German Chapter, we will offer our members even greater access to the international debate on accessible and safe public spaces and strengthen the German voice in these discussions. At the same time, we will transfer the international state of the art and good practice examples back to Germany to aid in the design and decision-making process here. This forms part of our larger effort to facilitate multi-stakeholder cooperation within municipalities and with their citizens. We will support exchange and mutual understanding by offering a broad selection of educational materials and formats on the basics of security and spatial design in cities, the inclusion and protection of vulnerable groups, and collaborative decision-making in the context of security issues.  

SiBa – Security in Train Station Areas (German)

Train stations and their surrounding areas are key locations in many cities. As public transport hubs for residents as well as points of entry and exit for commuters and visitors, they are a highly frequented and often crucial element in urban mobility and have a strong impact on people’s perception of security. At the same time, their transitory nature and lack of clearly delineated administrative responsibilities, along with their need to be as open and accessible as possible, tends to create objective and subjective security challenges that impede the quality of life in the vicinity and often leads to conflicts over its purpose and design. The SiBa project provides a comprehensive toolbox for identifying, analyzing, evaluating and mitigating these challenges with a multi-stakeholder approach. The goal of the project is to re-imagine and design train station areas as aesthetic, inviting and non-exclusionary, efficient and safe spaces of flows that allow a peaceful coexistence between a diversity of uses and users.  

 

For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to defus@defus.de.
 

Activity Report 2021

News from DEFUS and Network life:

The German-European Forum for Urban Security (DEFUS) represents the German members of Efus: 16 cities and two organizations work together closely to address the security-related challenges of urban governance. The City of Lippe has left the network in 2021.

Christian Kromberg, vice mayor of Essen, and Christian Specht, vice mayor of Mannheim, are chairing DEFUS since 2020.

 

DEFUS Activities in 2021 :

Online exchange formats

Although the second pandemic year has continued to complicate communications, we have facilitated and created ways for our members engage one another in comfortable, accessible, and, above all, secure formats. In two digital assemblies and six internal DEFUS-workshops, members kept themselves and each other up to date on current topics, challenges, and solutions:

  • Members’ assemblies
    • Security and safety for public officials and municipal employees (May)
    • Protection of Jewish and Muslim lives and ways of live (November)
  • Online Workshops
    • Urban security governance and administration (April)
    • Two meetings on COVID-19 hygiene restriction enforcement in public urban spaces (May and June)
    • How to manage “difficult spaces” (July)
    • Managing urban nightlife with a festival approach (September)

 

Training for Urban Security organized and hosted by DEFUS

  • Online Seminar
    The two-day online seminar “Civic participation for better urban security” was hosted together with the German Institute for Urban Affairs (Difu), in March 2021. The 45 participants got to know to good practice examples for participation and latest research results on the positive effects and challenges of participation in cities.
  • In-Situ Training
    In September 2021, DEFUS organized the training course "Sicherheit im Bahnhofsviertel" (roughly: “Security in the train station area”). The 17 participants from 11 municipalities discussed security arrangements and spatial features impacting the quality of life in the area round Hanover’s central station. The content of the training was informed by the findings of the three-year research project “Sicherheit im Bahnhofsviertel”. Due to the great demand, DEFUS will continue its work on this topic in the new year with a series of events.

 

DEFUS-contribution to Efus’ events

  • Workshop on the Leipzig Charta 2.0 during the Efus GA (March)
  • Efus conference SDC2021 in Nice (October)
    • Workshop on the impact of climate change on urban security
    • Network meeting of French and German partner cities:
      During the conference, the 25 DEFUS representatives from seven cities met with their French partner cities. On a small scale, this productive and respectful exchange between partners, especially on opposing viewpoints, once again illustrated the importance of European cooperation and cohesion for managing global crises and times of heightened insecurity.

 

DEFUS in third-party events

  • Presentation at the German Prevention Congress 2021 on peaceful coexistence in cities (May)
  • Panel discussion on the application of security technologies in cities at a summer school of the Catalan Ministry of the Interior (July)
  • Presentation on the development of urban security for the Prevention Council of the City of Augsburg (September)
  • Expert opinion for the City of Hannover regarding night mayors (October)
  • Participated in an expert conference on municipal crime prevention hosted by the German Forum for Crime Prevention (October)
  • Pufii-webinar on municipal conflict mediation and guidance (November)
  • Efus & DEFUS as partners at the 2nd Mannheim Security Congress (November)

 

Projects

  • Since 2015, DEFUS and the German Prevention Congress have been running the information platform www.pufii.de for social integration and crime prevention to highlight the many ways in which the two topics intersect. The main focus for 2021 has been the prevention of prejudice and stereotyping, along with the creation of a knowledge hub. The number of visitors and users has been increasing every year.
  • DEFUS is partner in the Efus-led and EU-funded project for training local authorities to better protect soft targets in public urban spaces. DEFUS supports the publication and dissemination efforts, creates a series of podcasts on security in public spaces, and offers a number of training sessions for participants from member cities.

 

DEFUS as an associated partner and advisor

Over the past years, DEFUS has increasingly taken on a role as mediator and network hub between municipal practitioners and researchers, receiving and forwarding needs, demands, and results from and to both sides. A growing number of requests to join consortia as an associated partner reflect this development. In 2021, DEFUS actively participated in

  • “Climate Change and Community Safety” by the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention (CMNPC),
  • “Plan#B – planning and display of innovative, networked security solutions at the example of the diverse metropolis Berlin”, funded by the German Federal Government,

and has been requested to join three more projects that are currently pending approval. Finally, DEFUS serves on the advisory board to the German “Competence cluster Islamic Extremism (KN:IX)”.

 

DEFUS dossiers

DEFUS collects, curates and presents information on relevant topics for its members in an ever-increasing number of dossiers. The ten password-protected dossiers are continuously updated and expanded upon.

Advocacy

Together with its members, DEFUS has produced position papers outlining guiding principles for issues in the wider field of urban security. These include

  • “Strengthen security in public urban spaces”
  • “Organizing peaceful coexistence in our cities”
  • “Ensuring the security and well-being of public employees and political decision-makers in municipal administrations”

as well as a joint

  • “Memorandum for the promotion of prevention efforts on the federal level”

with the German Prevention Congress (DPT). The memorandum makes four specific demands of the newly formed German coalition government, aiming for acknowledging and further strengthening the key role of municipalities and local measures in the production of security.  

 

Publicity

  • The DEFUS website is continually updated with recent information on the activities of the network and its members.
  • In October 2021, DEFUS launched a company profile on LinkedIn to further build its connections with national and international practitioners in urban security and crime prevention.
  • DEFUS has increased its media presence, featuring with expert statements in several German media outlets on issues such as nightlife, anti-discrimination efforts, and urban planning for subjective security. Numerous other requests for comments, statements, articles and reviews had to be turned down due to scheduling conflicts.

Activity Report 2020

 

News from DEFUS and Network life (in chronological order):

  • In May DEFUS hosted a web conference on staff safety. After a deadly attack on an employee of the city administration of Cologne and several other incidents in other cities the topic jumped on the top of the agenda. The city of Cologne presented a newly installed early warning system. 
  • After parallel bomb threats against city halls in three DEFUS member cities (Essen, Augsburg, Mannheim) in June, DEFUS organised a video conference where representatives and police presidents of the affected cities exchanged information regarding the information about the course of events and details of the threatening letters. This quick reaction and connection via DEFUS were well received and appreciated.  
  • This year saw only one assembly of the German members which took place on the 28th of September in the city of Essen. There the DEFUS members elected Christian Kromberg, city of Essen, as the new president and Christian Specht, city of Mannheim, as new vice president of the German Forum. 
  • After the elections of the chair, the member discussed the consequences of the riots in the city of Stuttgart and the challenges of an increasing party scene in public spaces. The focus topic of the assembly was the question of how city administration shall and must encounter discrimination and racism. Dr Maria Scharlau from Amnesty International Germany, expert for racism in security administration, gave input on the benefits of anti-racism training for public servants in local administration. 
  • DEFUS organised a one-day anti-racism training for its members to raise awareness on how discriminating prejudices influence the daily work of the staff of the local administration. Both trainers told the audience about discrimination and everyday racism they experience as black Germans. 
  • The German Forum turned 10 this year and celebrated its anniversary with a get-together and dinner for the members in Essen. Elizabeth Johnston, Executive Director of Efus, Dr Martin Schairer, mayor of Stuttgart and former president of the German Forum, Erich Marks, long-lasting partner of Efus and DEFUS, and last but not least Claudia Heinzelmann, the coordinating manager for six years, shared their memories live or via video message of the first decade of DEFUS. 

Projects

  • DEFUS participates in the EU funded Efus project SECU4All
  • Within the framework of the research project "Safety in Station Quarters", the project team has developed a toolbox for local authorities, which is a broad collection of measurements to improve the safety feeling and amenity qualities. DEFUS organised and hosted a training session for staff of local administration and police to improve prevention and security in station quarters. 20 Participants from all over Germany took part in the online event and elaborated prevention concepts and ideas for marginalized groups hanging around at the station. The training was fully funded by the research project. 
  • For the first time, DEFUS has participated in the preparation of its own research project proposal together with the German Institute for Urban Studies (Difu). The project PanReflex aims to reflect on how municipalities are dealing with the Corona crisis and to draw conclusions for the long-term strengthening of urban resilience. It is expected that the German Ministry of Education and Research approves the project in May 2021. 
  • The long-term project on Prevention and Integration with an online information portal (PUFII) runs constantly and with astonishingly high access rates. In 2020, Pufii has again received third-party funding from the Federal State of Lower Saxony to build up a knowledge hub for the prevention of prejudice, discrimination and racism. Until the end of this year, the project is managed by DEFUS, co-financed by third-party funds and the German Prevention Congress. 
  • DEFUS was fortunately asked by three consortiums of research projects funded by the German Government to participate as an associated partner (SifoLife Plan #B, Sifo Life SELECT, LegiNot). Grant approvals are still pending. 
  • Several DEFUS member cities are also participating in already running projects or have submitted their applications for German funding lines. One of the upcoming general assemblies will be dedicated to exchanging in-depth about the projects. 

Other DEFUS Activities:

  • At the symposium titled “Perspectives and Future of Urban Crime Prevention", Anna Rau discussed on a panel how local authorities could improve the participation of all city dwellers in urban security policies and prevention activities. The University of Tübingen hosted the symposium, which took place in February.
  • As the training on security for mass events was overbooked DEFUS and the German Institute for Urban Studies (DIFU) repeated the training in early March. The 40 participants learned, discussed and exchanged ideas and experiences on how local authorities can improve and influence the safety of mass events.
  • The Corona Health Crisis led to many changes and postponements in the DEFUS schedule. The German Crime Prevention Congress was postponed and switched to an online event and took place at the end of September. DEFUS and Efus contributed to the online information collection and disseminated new and recently published documents. 

Activity Report 2019

Our network is growing

Efus and DEFUS are very happy to welcome four new members from Germany. The cities of Nuremberg, Hannover, Gladbeck and Berlin joined our network in 2019. With 535.000 inhabitants Nuremberg and Hannover count to the bigger cities in Germany. Gladbeck has around 76.000 inhabitants and belongs to the Ruhr region. The German capital Berlin is very interested in exchanging experiences with other European metropolis.

Office News

In January, the DEFUS office moved within Hannover. We now share a wonderful office with the German Crime Prevention Congress (DPT). The new office offers plenty of space to host meetings and events. The close cooperation with the DPT is fruitful and a benefit for the German Forum.

Network Activities

DEFUS Members Assemblies

The 1st annual member’s assembly of the German Forum took place affiliated to the General Assembly of Efus in Augsburg on June 24th. Besides the welcoming of the new members, the meeting focused on polarisation, mechanisms for participation and the protection of public space. Following up the last member's assembly, a working group on local risk management was set up to deepen and consolidate the professional exchange around this pressing issue.

The German Forum held its 2nd annual General Assembly on Thursday 12 December in Cologne. The discussions of the 40 participants focused on the topics of safety audits and strategic planning, securitisation of public space and safety in nightlife settings and included a visit to Cologne's centre for crime prevention and security. The assembly was followed, on Friday 13 November, by a workshop on identification and assessment of urban security risks.

Guiding Considerations

The German Efus members have developed guiding considerations on the peaceful co-existence in our cities in August. Almost all DEFUS members have adopted the document which already has been and will further be disseminated in Germany. Dirk Wurm and Christian Kromberg presented the considerations in events on the national level and will continue to do so in 2020.

Other activities

  • The working group on urban risk management met twice in 2019 and intensively worked in the assessment of risks for urban safety and how local authorities can deal with identified risks.
  • October 2019 saw a two-day visit of 7 security professionals from the city of Cologne to Rotterdam. The visit is part of a bilateral exchange programme and will be followed by a return visit of the colleagues from Rotterdam to Cologne in 2020. In addition to the Rotterdam municipality's measures for employee safety, the visit focused on safety in public spaces and also on participatory urban design, strengthening disadvantaged neighbourhoods and situational prevention.

Events organised and hosted by DEFUS

Symposium “Safe Public Space” in cooperation with the German Police Academy In January

DEFUS together with the German Police Academy (DHPol) hosted a symposium on safety and security of public spaces. The event brought together around 100 participants from the police and staff of cities and municipalities. In the two days event, the participants discussed the stakes, responsibility and role of police and city administration to guarantee the safety of public spaces. In four workshops the topics of social cohesion and social capital, the protection of mass events, the distribution of tasks and cooperation at the local level between police and municipality and the use of new technologies for safety and security were addressed. The discussions, presentations and results of the events are going to be published in a book in 2020.

Symposium "The Organisation of Peaceful Coexistence in the Tension Field of Migration, Integration and Security"

On 20 and 21 November 2019, DEFUS and the German Police University (DHPol) organised a symposium titled "The Organisation of Peaceful Coexistence in the Tension Field of Migration, Integration and Security" in Münster.  The event was aimed at mayors, researchers, municipal employees, as well as representatives of the police and civil society and united 70 participants. This was the 2nd event in cooperation with the German Police Academy in 2019. The results of both events will be published in a book next year.

Training

In cooperation with the German Institute for Urbanism, the German Forum organised a two-day training on safety and security for events in Berlin in October. After having received more applications than spaces for participants, DEFUS and DIfU will repeat the training in March 2020.

Events DEFUS representatives took part

  • Mannheim organised first security day In April the city of Mannheim offered during the one-day event a platform for cities and municipalities to discuss urban safety from different perspectives. Efus and DEFUS were partners for the event and accompanied the day with a stand.
  • Stand and lectures at the German Congress on Crime Prevention Traditionally DEFUS actively participated at the annual Congress on Crime Prevention. With a stand, various lectures and facilitation of workshops the German forum networked and presented the idea of an integrated approach on urban security and promoted a membership. Several Efus members presented their local activities for urban security and reached out to a broad audience.
  • Lecture for the new crime prevention council of Thüringen The federal state of Thüringen invited the managing director of DEFUS to give the opening lecture as the starting signal for the working group on urban safety that is currently being established.
  • Dirk Wurm and Christian Kromberg, Chairman and Vice-Chairman of DEFUS, represented Efus and DEFUS on congresses on urban development of the social-democratic and conservative parties in Germany. DEFUS was very delighted to be invited and considers this as a huge step towards more visibility of Efus and DEFUS within German politics.

Projects

Security in Station Quarters

The cities of Munich and Düsseldorf, as well as DEFUS, are part of a research project on the security in station quarters – the so-called SIBA-project. The project started in August 2017 and will run until August 2020. While the cities offer their station quarters as a research area, DEFUS is in charge of organising and offering training for local authorities in which the results of the project will be poured into local prevention concepts.
In February, the project group met for two days in Düsseldorf and explored the urban development of the station quarter.

Prevention and Integration

Online Platform to connect Prevention and Integration measures – pufii.de the German Crime Prevention Congress, the Crime Prevention Council of Lower Saxony and DEFUS have set up an online platform aiming to connect the professionals for prevention and integration in Germany. The online platform publishes a weekly newsletter and offers a rich databank with information regarding integration, migration and refugees in Germany. This year DEFUS has overtaken the lead in the project and receives third-party funds to develop a new pillar for the online platform. PUFII.DE has received funding from the German state and has organised beyond other things two webinars on diversity in cities in fall 2019.

 

Study Visit during the Efus GA in Augsburg, 2019 June