Urban Security and Spatial Planning in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area: the Cases of Lisbon, Cascais and Barreiro municipalities

Simone Tulumello, Post-doc Researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon

Lisbon is one of the safest big European cities. Crime data covering the last decade show a decreasing trend in personal crimes and property crimes. Lisbon is also characterised by a low level of violent crimes and homicides.

The perception of security does not however, follow these trends. Feelings of fear of crime and insecurity became widespread especially after a media campaign about a “crime wave” during the summer of 2008. This created a social demand for more security measures, which were followed by a reinforcement of the national security structures in Lisbon Metropolitan Area.

This report analyses local urban security policies in three municipalities of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. While central government remains largely responsible for urban security in Portugal, local authorities have been undertaking small-scale initiatives and actions within the area of their prerogatives to enhance security locally.

The report focuses on the relations between urban security policies and the practice of spatial planning in the three studied municipalities. While it was found that there is no direct mention of urban security in urban planning documents and regulations, the question is part of the urban renewal policy in two municipalities. However, the report notes that no crime prevention measures have been implemented. The reinforcement of security despite low crime rates came mainly as a response to local demand and to restore security feelings. 

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