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Winning group CSM debate on Pacifying Police Unit

Governance of crime and social disorder debate on Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) winning lot! In the group presentation in the CSM-elective ‘governance of crime and social disorder’ of teacher Elke Devroe CSM students battled again for the winning lot, namely this blog published in the Leiden University Website.

Picture of the students with names

(from left to right)
Marit Dijkstra
Tamara Perseu
Gamze Ulker
Erlène Knoopers
Thomas Argheria
Robbin Schacht

Students about the content

Policy makers and governments do not only face obstacles while outlining proposals for public security reform, but also while implementing them, facing obstruction from both civil society and the police. The most promising and popular approach of public security reform policy is community- oriented policy (COP). This is a preventive approach based on the idea that society is the first line of defense against crime and insecurity. It focuses on causes of crime and it attempts to use crime statistics more effectively. In Rio the Janeiro, the COP approach was implemented through the Unidade de Policia Pacificadora (UPP). The UPP in Rio de Janeiro was a spin-off of an earlier project in Brazil, PRONASCI, set up from 2007 till 2010 in order to democratize the police. The UPP helped to foster community policing’s place at the top of public agenda, and furthermore, it helped the state to win international competitions, such as hosting the 2013 World Championship and the 2016 Olympics.

The UPP project was implemented in drug-dominated favelas (the city slums of Rio). A community police was formed to build trust relations with inhabitants with two aims: first, to restore state control within favelas (which have been governed by non-state, criminal actors), and thereby increasing security and ‘return them’ to the residents of the favelas; and second, to integrate favela residents into the formal city by improving public, social and economic opportunities. This would further help to deconstruct the social stigma that has clung to favelas and their residents throughout history. (This second goal is related to another, independent project, the UPP social.)

Some have argued that the UPP indeed achieved its goals to bring peace to the crime-torn favelas in Rio. This has directed in other positive effects, for instance, a better social and economic environment in the favelas. However, others have argued that the UPP failed in its mission, stating that homicide, everyday crime and police killings are still a day-to-day fact in the city. The UPP has been assaulted of brutal and physically harsh solutions towards crime and disorder. It has also been stated by some that the UPP project results in a spillover effect: criminality would have moved to other favelas in the city that do not take part in the project. On a more bureaucratic note, the intervention is said to be too costly. Nonetheless, the UPP seemed to have succeeded in breaking the long-held practices of police lethal violence. Scholars have argued that police killings would have been up to sixty percent larger without the UPP intervention.

Thus, different opinions are raised about the effectiveness of the UPP intervention. By presenting how different actors (namely, the government of the city of Rio de Janeiro, civilians and civil movements, the police of Rio, and NGOs) perceive the effectiveness of the UPP, the following research question was answered: “What are the main pros and cons in the UPP according to different actors in Rio?”

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