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European experts compare experiences working in socially excluded localities

Sokolov, 6.10.2012 9:13, (ROMEA)

The Romani community in Great Britain and a Czech Interior Ministry project on crime prevention assistants were two of the themes discussed at a two-day international conference in the Czech Republic focusing on the issue of socially excluded localities. The conference took place in Sokolov from 3-4 October 2012 and was opened by representatives of municipal governments, the Czech Interior Ministry, and the Police of the Czech Republic.

"The aim of this conference is to present examples of successful practices in socially excluded localities, not just in the Czech Republic, but also in Great Britain, Hungary, and Slovakia," said Jitka Gjuričová, director of the Czech Interior Ministry's Crime Prevention Department. She thanked the mayor of Sokolov for holding the conference, which the Interior Ministry also organized. "The town of Sokolov is one of the towns in the Karlovy Vary region which has long taken an active approach toward comprehensively addressing the security situation and performing crime prevention in socially excluded localities," Gjuričová said.

Josef Novotný, Governor of Karlovy Vary Region, said the region has about 58 socially excluded localities or localities at risk of exclusion. "Crime prevention starts with young children. They must be taught to get up regularly, to attend school, and then eventually to go to work," the governor said. Jiří Matouš of the Regional Directorate of the Police of the Czech Republic in Karlovy Vary Region warned that socially excluded localities often become a center of interest for right-wing extremists in particular, who do their best to offer easy but unrealistic solutions to the situations there.

The international block of the conference was opened by Petr Torák, who works in Great Britain as a police officer, and by independent consultant Lucie Fremlová. They spoke about examples of good practice with Romani communities in Great Britain. "The main impulse [for Romani people to leave the Czech Republic or Slovakia] is to access education and work, but also to escape discrimination," Fremlová said.

Fremlová raised the issue of Romani children who had been enrolled into "special needs" schools in the Czech Republic but who managed after moving to Great Britain to enroll into mainstream education without any problems. She also gave an example of good practice from Great Britain wherein Romani volunteers work on local groundskeeping projects in exchange for English-language lessons.

Emília Gyöngyvér Kléh of Hungary presented a project entitled “Successful practice in managing community conflicts in regions of Central and Eastern Europe,” a project of the European Crime Prevention Network. The aim of the project is to select and evaluate programs and projects which offer successful solutions to specific community conflicts in five countries of Central and Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia). The project started in spring of this year and should report its results in March 2013.

Representatives of Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia also presented their experiences in this area. Thursday’s central topic was a presentation by the Czech Interior Ministry of its “Crime Prevention Assistant” project. Representatives of municipalities, municipal police forces, and the crime prevention assistants themselves discussed their experiences.

František Kostlán, Gwendolyn Albert, fk, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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