This paper reports on an evaluation of local safety councils in Slovenia.
Since 1998, 80 local safety/security councils have been established in Slovenia under the authority of the Police Act and the Local Self-Administration Act, which allow for the establishment of the councils as consultative bodies on local crime and safety/security matters without defining precisely how they should be organized and operated. The evaluation described in this paper focused on 17 local councils and assessed their organization and operations. The evaluation obtained documentation and perspectives from the local authorities, the police, nongovernmental organizations, and community representatives in sessions held in 2003 and 2004. An effort was made to identify the main local safety and crime prevention programs and the responses of the council to these problems. The legal framework for and the practice of the council in relation to community policing were also examined. A total of 178 individuals participated in the evaluation. The study found that in all cases the police had initiated the formation of the council, which led to the perception among its members that the council was an arm of the police and under the authority of the police agency. Overall, there was a lack of understanding of the nature of the partnership between the police and community representatives, and there were diverse views of crime and safety problems in the community. Local citizens were generally unaware of and apathetic toward the council and its work. Still, the council provided a structure for and the possibility of cooperation and accountability among community representatives and the police in attempting to address threats to community safety. 3 tables and 8 references