Forum for Cities in Transition: Community engagement essential for policing divided cities
By Forum for Cities in Transition
27 May 2010
PSNI Chief Inspector Chris Yates, Area Commander for Foyle District is participating in the Forum for Cities in Transition conference in Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica this week. During the conference, Chief Inspector Yates is meeting with local police and sharing his experiences of policing in a divided city.
A delegation of Derry-Londonderry representatives are visiting Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica where they have joined eight other delegations from Beirut, Belfast, Haifa, Jerusalem, Kirkuk, Mostar and Nicosia to discuss the challenges of living and working in cities divided by conflict. They are discussing a number of issues including policing, which is a particularly challenging aspect of municipal life in Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica where two police forces work in parallel on either side of this divided city.
Following a meeting with members of the local police teams, Chief Inspector Yates said: “It is important to share the lessons and progress we have made in the PSNI. This conference is a great opportunity to share our experiences of policing in Derry-Londonderry and to encourage greater collaboration and citizen engagement in other divided cities. It is a worthwhile process and a great opportunity to support divided cities from around the world as they transition to more stable and peaceful situations”.
David Hamilton, a retired PSNI officer, who now works in Kosovo as a Resident Twinning Advisor on policing, and participated in the conference, also added: “It is fantastic to see that the PSNI can help other policing units to meet the challenges of policing in divided areas. In Northern Ireland we are still undergoing a process of change and transition but we certainly have useful lessons that we can share.
“In Northern Ireland we are aware of the importance of community policing and in Kosovo this is also becoming a central element of the policing plan. It is encouraging to see the local police forces moving in this direction.
“In modern policing community contact and interaction is essential to effective policing. Any steps taken to encourage this will be welcomed not only by the international community but also by the local people themselves”.
The Forum for Cities in Transition was established in Boston in April 2010 by representatives from Kirkuk, Nicosia, Derry-Londonderry and Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica. It is an initiative of the University of Massachusetts Boston, which hosted the founding conference. The University and the Northern Ireland Foundation, Belfast, are the Secretariat.