Opening Remarks at State Council Meeting on Primary Measures to Implement the State Crime Prevention and Public Law and Order Programme 2007-06-29 22:41:13 Rostov-on-Don President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, The item on the agenda today is a complex issue that lies at the crossroads of many social problems and requires us to draft a policy for putting in place an effective state system of crime prevention. Really, what we are talking about is how to eliminate the causes that lead to crime in society. Experience abroad and at home shows that it is at the prevention stage that we can most effectively combat practically all types of crime and, very importantly, prevent young people and people in difficult circumstances in life from being sucked into the mire of the crime. Two years ago, at a meeting in Kazan, the State Council decided to establish a unified crime prevention system. This system was to unite the efforts of the state authorities, the business community and civic society in the common aim of carrying out extensive crime prevention work. The federal authorities are taking the necessary steps and the regions have also had some positive results. We are now starting to see the first fruits of our work. Over the first six months of this year, for example, street crime has dropped by almost 4.5 percent and the number of serious and very serious crimes has also fallen. But the crime situation in the country still presents problems. Levels of organised crime and recidivism are still high. Almost one in three domestic crimes is committed while under the influence of alcohol. Juvenile delinquency is also at a high level. The agencies responsible for crime prevention have still not managed to coordinate their work, and this makes the measures we implement less effective. Our legal and scientific base does not measure up to all of today’s demands. There is an acute shortage of qualified psychologists, doctors, specialists in working with problem teenagers. We clearly need to get away from this fragmented approach to crime prevention and launch a coordinated offensive based on a carefully planned strategy. In this respect I would like to make the following points. First, we need to continue reinforcing the legislative base in this area. Our legislation should clearly define the competence and responsibilities of each of the agencies involved in the unified crime prevention system. This will help to improve overall coordination of the work and focus state and public efforts on the most genuinely important areas. Second – a matter I particularly want to emphasise – is the need for crime prevention work among young people, as I mentioned at the beginning. The 2007–2010 ‘Children of Russia’ Programme, which has financing of almost 2 billion roubles, is already being implemented. A state programme to assist children in difficult circumstances is currently being drafted. The government commission for minors’ affairs and protection of minors’ rights, which was set up in 2006, is working consistently in this area and so are the relevant ministries and agencies. But we are forced to admit that we have so far not managed to really reduce the number of crimes committed by minors. According to the experts, meanwhile, it is precisely the difficult circumstances that young people find themselves in that could have a negative impact on the crime rate in general in the country over the coming 5–10 years. The conclusion is clear: we need to ensure a real upsurge in the quality and substance of prevention and educational work, including in schools, universities and sports associations. Colleagues, we have put this item on the State Council’s agenda and are discussing it in this format because this work depends to a large extent on you — and on the municipalities, of course – and on the signals that you will give. We need to be resolute in ensuring that xenophobia, extremist ideas, a nihilistic attitude towards the law, and the criminal subculture do not make their way into our young people’s minds. In this respect, the media bears great responsibility, especially those media outlets that are aimed in particular at young audiences. We also need to carry out flexible and modern promotion of a healthy lifestyle, fight the spread of alcohol and drugs and put in place the necessary system of social and medical assistance. Prevention work should not be a formality. We need to build it up from the grass roots: at street level, at district level, at municipal level, as I already said. We need to take a targeted approach and focus our work on specific groups and individuals. It is easy, of course, to put up a bright but not particularly effective poster or launch an anti-alcohol advertisement and tick the box to show that the work has been done. These things also have their use and they are better than nothing at all, but let’s be frank: the results achieved by such prevention campaigns are practically zero or very small. I repeat that what we need are consistent, comprehensive and effective measures that should be tightly linked to state support for the family and should be coordinated with our family support work in the area of addressing the issues of children left to themselves and juvenile delinquency. This work calls not only for new methods but also for professional, decent and responsible people able to help young people find their place in life. Third, we need to address the issues of social adaptation for people released from prison and for homeless people. We need to help these people resolve their accommodation problems and get medical and legal help. This is an ongoing problem: we have been talking about it year after year ever since the Soviet period, but we have still not managed to achieve any great results. A negative tradition seems to have established itself when it comes to dealing with these problems and we need to change this situation. It is particularly important to help people released from prison find employment. Some of our country’s regions offer optimum examples of how to address this difficult problem. Krasnodar, Nizhny Novgorod and Sverdlov Regions, for example, have decided to establish a quota of three posts in organisations employing more than 30 people for this category of people. The organisations concerned receive corresponding support from the regional authorities, and this is the right decision. A similar system has been established here in Rostov Region. This practice should definitely become more widespread. I ask you, colleagues, to find out more about it, talk with the governors of the regions implementing this system and learn about what they are doing in this area. Fourth, we need to get our citizens and civic organisations more involved in law and order work. There is no doubt that the more people are involved in this work, the more successful it will be. Volunteer assistants can help to bring down levels of street and domestic crime and also can help in crime prevention work. This is an issue that requires careful reflection, and local laws will have to define more clearly the status of public organisations helping to maintain law and order and come up with new incentives to attract volunteers. Ensuring better material conditions for the police, particularly at the local level, is a very important matter today. The local police deal with up to 80 percent of all citizens’ appeals to the police and are responsible for carrying out a large amount of crime prevention work, and what is especially important is that this is targeted prevention work. We need to do everything possible to ensure that local police stations have the necessary transport, modern equipment and communications, and we need to increase this service’s overall prestige. We also need to make greater use of modern technology and command systems in law and order work. One such system, the Safe City system, was demonstrated to us here in Rostov today. We all had a chance to see how the system works. It is an interesting system, a good idea, and not as expensive as all that, I think. It is modern and ensures effective feedback from the whole city – a good system. And the people working there are young professionals (the young women are real beauties, too. Where did you find them, or are all your girls such beauties? I see). As I said, we need to expand the use of new equipment and technology. Overall, the experience shows that even the simplest video surveillance systems, emergency links to the police and monitoring of public buildings, public venues and schoolyards, for example, improves the maintenance of law and order in public places. Regarding human resources, I draw the Interior Ministry’s attention to the fact that the police, people working with the public, need to be attentive. Work needs to be done with them too. I am sure that if we start looking at how the police deal with infringements of the law, how documents, appeals and so on are dealt with, we will see that the public has many complaints, and so an analysis needs to be made of how the police are actually carrying out their work. I have outlined the issues that I would like you to examine in more detail. I hope, of course, that you will propose clear step-by-step measures for practical solutions, and maybe you will also bring up other issues that I did not mention in my opening remarks. Overall, the results of today’s meeting will form the foundation for our further work on creating an integral and effective crime prevention system, a system that will make our society healthier and contribute to our country’s stable and continued development. Thank you for your attention.