Safety and quality of life in Utrecht shopping mall and station area
The improvements in security and quality of life in the Utrecht Station Area and the neighbouring Hoog Catharijne shopping mall are the result of numerous measures that can be summarized as a 'tough and social' approach: aimed at reducing nuisance and crime rates and improving the living circumstances of drug addicts in Utrecht.
The Utrecht Station Area and the neighbouring Hoog Catharijne shopping mall have been a criminal hot spots for years. The presence of an active drug scene and groups of youth lead to high crime rates, nuisance and feelings of unsafety amongst travellers, shoppers and shopkeepers.
The Hoog Catharijne shopping mall and the Utrecht Station
District have become significantly safer since the introduction of
a wide range of measures, which first started in 2001. Crime and
nuisance rates have halved. Security perception has improved by
25%. The district is cleaner and 'more whole'. The living
circumstances of addicts have improved significantly. Prompted by
the necessity to tackle nuisance caused by addicts, the
public-private cooperation initiated also proved useful in dealing
with nuisance caused by youngsters as well as calamities and
The project has been rewarded two prizes recently:
* The 2005 European Crime Prevention Award;
* The 2005 Hein Roethof prize, an annual prize for the best crime prevention initiative in the Netherlands.
The improvements in security and quality of life are the result of numerous measures that can be summarized as a 'tough and social' approach: aimed at reducing nuisance and crime rates and improving the living circumstances of addicts in Utrecht. What has made this approach effective is the combination of prevention, care and repression. Moreover, the policy is targeted at making the Station District clean and whole again. An intensive cooperation between the public and private sector, supervised by the municipality, has been in place since the middle of 2001. Partners involved are the municipality, the police, the Public Prosecutor's Office, national railway services, Corio, Jaarbeurs, Centrum Maliebaan, Altrecht, Agis, bus companies, shopkeepers, offices, residents and many others.
The percentage of people who feel safe in the Station District
has increased from 4.9 to 6.0. The percentage of people who feel
safe at the station has increased by 5% to 89% during the day and
46% at night, which exceeds the big city average for the
Netherlands. Nuisance rates have fallen further. The number of
tickets issued by the police in Hoog Catharijne and the station has
dropped by 36%. The number of thefts has fallen by 51% and violence
by 15%. The percentage of passengers that have not witnessed any
incidents in the Station District has increased to 74%. The number
of offences committed by habitual offenders (about 275) has been
reduced by 65%. There has been virtually no transfer of problems to
other districts in Utrecht. Nuisance rates caused by drugs-related
crime have fallen by 30% city-wide.
The quality of life of 250 Utrecht homeless addicts has improved. Doctors have found a general improvement in their health. Practice has shown that better living circumstances for addicts with good shelter and care leads to lower drug abuse, fewer cases of nuisance and less crime. The referral system for addicts to regular health care and aid organisations has improved. Addicts from outside Utrecht are returned to their original care network. Awaiting further treatment, some are temporarily housed in care centres. This policy prevents the inflow of new addicts from elsewhere.
Travelers, shoppers, shopkeepers – the general public
The combination of prevention, care, repression and the physical refurbishment of the built environment were crucial for the success of this project, as was the public-private cooperation
City of Utrecht
Luc Eerden, tel. +31 30 286 9874
Project start date
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