My house is my responsibility. Improving housing security in Vinnytsia region

The citizens themselves, not only municipal services, should invest efforts in creating a comfortable living environment. At least this approach is followed by residents of Vinnytsia, which create associations of co-owners of multi-apartment buildings (ACMBs).

People solve utility problems and try to protect their homes from potential dangers with concerted efforts.

"People want to go out into the yard and feel safe. Of course, there are the immediate needs of the inhabitants: water, gas, light. But if people do not feel safe, they start to get nervous," explains Elvira Mriasova, chairwoman of the Association of ACMBs of Vinnytsia Region. She, along with heads of the ACMBs, helps the residents to establish a dialogue with the local police officers to improve the security of their homes.

The heads of the ACMBs invite local police officers to the meetings with the residents. As Mriasova says, some residents ask to place the contacts of the police in plain sight.

"People come to know their local police officers, resort to the police more often, even on matters not related to their activities," said Vitaliy Shveda, deputy head of department of local police officers of administration of preventive activities of the Main Department of National Police in Vinnytsia region.

The heads of ACMBs also invite security experts and psychologists to tell people how to handle difficult situations.

However, work with the population is not limited to the city. According to Shveda, all 250 local police officers go to similar meetings with community members. In rural areas, police officers and local residents share information about people with suspicious behavior. As Shveda claims, such interaction has already helped to solve a crime:

"Thanks to this program, we managed to solve a house robbery. People pointed to a stranger and told the police where he went."

Whereas the ACMB is an example of self-organization for the cities, the UTC (united territorial communities) is an example for the villages. The populated localities unite to solve the issues of upgrading public services and utilities, security and development. Let’s consider Studenianska UTC, which is located more than 150km of Vinnitsa on the border with Transnistria.

The opinion poll shows that the majority of residents of this community (58%) do not know their local police officer, says Stanislav Nyzhnyk-Oskolsky, the coordinator for community policing implementation in the region. In order to remedy this situation, the public activists decided to organize the meetings following an example of ACMBs in Vinnytsia.

"Earlier, the local police officer held office hours for public just for show. Now he has started to come to the public. We show them that cooperation is possible," says Nyzhnyk-Oskolsky.

"Using the example of successful ACMBs and UTCs, we show other people that we should unite to solve common problems. The residents of the town of Studena are ready to update public formations, go for joint patrols and form a voluntary fire brigade," Mriasova adds.

Nyzhnyk-Oskolsky tells that local schoolchildren have begun to consult about the problem of domestic violence after the meetings with the local police officers were held. Three teenagers have decided to become police officers.

"The polls have shown that the residents of Studena are particularly concerned about the traffic movement. They talked to the police, and it was decided to limit speed and equip the sidewalks. Moreover, the security program that would allow local decision-making to ensure community security is of particular importance," First Deputy Head of the Vinnytsia Regional State Administration Andriy Hyzhko comments of the results of cooperation.

According to him, each community and even each district of a large city has its own peculiarity. The feedback from the population allows making right decisions, e.g. to install video cameras where they are really needed.

The regional authorities plan to develop such public associations as ACMBs and UTCs, because they can effectively present and solve the problems of community members, in particular in matters of security.

The article was written within the framework of activity of the expert group "Police and Community Interaction" with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation.

Photo credit: Human Rights Information Centre

Source: Human Rights Information Centre website


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