In Peñalolén, Chile, the community began with three neighborhood watch committees aligned with local government agencies in 2005. Today, the number of committees has grown to 166 for a community of 216,000. Norma Maray, manager of the Citizen Security Unit for Peñalolén, told Diálogo the growth in community groups has helped cut the rate of victimization by nearly half in five years. That means fewer home invasions, muggings and other criminal acts in the community. The municipality aims to underscore the idea that citizen security is both a right and a civil duty, according to Maray. It is the idea of a shared responsibility among the citizens and the state, with the state providing the needed support for citizens to organize. The citizen groups meet with local officials and police to create action plans; the municipality then conducts training and provides equipment and technology. The plans contain elements of crime prevention ranging from youth programs and community alarms to ensuring areas in a neighborhood are well lit and surveillance cameras are set up as crime deterrents. As citizens take back their neighborhoods, they are more inclined to interact with one another in shared community areas, as opposed to seeking shelter within their homes and keeping to themselves. The increase in communication helps promote vigilance as social networks form. Maray said the result is not that the community members take justice into their own hands, but that they deter criminals. Community groups in Chile and Guatemala primarily work with the police by providing information about their surroundings. “Citizens are not going to go out and capture criminals, [citizens] are not patrolling,” explained González. The groups achieve three goals: They create an interconnected society, provide an extension of police resources by reporting on matters of security, and serve as a system of checks and balances for police actions or follow up on the information provided. “The citizen becomes, in some way, supportive of police actions. And in addition, becomes a type of comptroller of the actions taken [by police],” said González. As criminal activities threaten the region’s security, citizens in Guatemala, Chile and the Dominican Republic are rising to meet the challenge. Tougher action by security forces has helped some, but simple community-driven vigilance and communication is also helping to reduce crime. Thousands of neighborhood citizen watch groups are forming across the region, working hand in hand with their local governments to bring security back to communities. “On the topic of security, everyone from the president of the nation to the child in the community must be included. It is not only a topic for the police forces,” said former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe during an August 2011 conference in El Salvador about the role of mayors in public safety. The former president and local mayors discussed sustainable plans for security, including a security tax, a measure that proved successful in Colombia. By Dialogo January 01, 2012 Recognizing that citizens’ perceptions of the state are largely based on interactions with the police, the Dominican Republic’s National Police trains its officers to become community leaders. A Colombian police officer delivered the initial training, funded by the U.S. Embassy, according to Colonel Teresa Martínez, commander of the Dominican Republic’s National Police. “The training showed us how to empower the communities and it taught us to see ourselves as agents of security,” Col. Martínez explained to Diálogo. The training provided guidance to enhance interactions between police and citizens, ultimately seeking to eliminate the lack of trust in the state. “We don’t want citizens doing the work of the police, but rather, given the lack of human and other resources, that citizens simply commit themselves to the topic of security and to support their authorities,” said Col. Martínez. Experts like González and Maray, who gathered at a community security seminar organized by the Institute of the Americas in June 2011, agree that the effort to overcome crime is gaining momentum and bolstering citizens’ confidence in the state. Experts in attendance at the seminar underscored that even though the threats to citizen security vary from Guatemala to Chile, communities are most engaged when citizens trust the state. Community engagement is a powerful factor that boosts the work of security forces and supports democracy. “Trust is gained in the sense of the interactions had, the attention [given], and the approach that the police has with the population,” added Col. Martínez. Sources: www.elsalvador.com, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Latin American citizens are faced with myriad sources of violence from drug cartels, gangs, narcotraffickers, insurgent groups and opportunistic criminals. Although figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2011 report show global homicide rates are stable or decreasing for most of the world, Central America’s homicide rate is on the rise: The total number of homicides in the Americas ranks No. 2 in the world, second only to Africa. The approach of turning to community groups is not a new one, but it has gained increased attention as a low-cost alternative employed to address crime. Donaldo González, spokesman for the Guatemalan National Civil Police, told Diálogo that the police have worked with community groups for several years. About 700 citizen community security groups have formed in that time thanks to assistance from the National Civil Police prevention unit. Their impact has been to leave citizens feeling more secure and supportive of democratic institutions, as opposed to calling for a return to military control. Community Bonds
Solvency levels at Finland’s employee pension insurance companies strengthened between July and September 2014, but investment risks also increased in the period, according to the Finnish financial supervisory authority (FIN-FSA).In its latest quarterly release of data on the capital position of the Finnish banking and insurance sector, the regulator said the solvency ratio of the country’s employee pension insurers rose to 31.1% at the end of September from 30.5% at the end of June.But while it said that the average risk-bearing capacity of employee pension institutions could be considered strong, the risk level had continued on a slight upward trend, as the share of hedge funds and shares of the investments increased.Anneli Tuominen, director general at FIN-FSA, said: “In the insurance sector, the main vulnerabilities are related to rapid adverse developments on stock and bond markets combined with the very low level of interest rates.” Separately, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said new Finnish solvency rules for pension institutions had now been put before Parliament, and included the stipulation that providers would have to identify risks linked to each investment separately when calculating their solvency limit.Provisions concerning the coverage of technical provisions would be abolished, the ministry said, because they would be superfluous under the new system.The new rules will apply to employee pension insurance companies, pension funds and the Seafarers’ Pension Fund and partially to the Farmers’ Social Insurance Institution.In other news, Danish pensions administrator PKA said the move to merge the pension funds it runs into just three had reduced costs by 15% in two years.It said its 265,000-strong membership would each pay on average DKK450 (€47.5) in 2015 in administration costs, down DKK85 since 2013 – corresponding to a fall of 15%.PKA said mergers and efficiency were the key reasons for the fall in costs.Peter Damgaard Jensen, managing director at PKA, said: “In 2014, we merged four pension funds into two, so there are now three pension funds within PKA.”Just over three years ago, he added, there had been eight pension funds within PKA.Meanwhile, Danish pensions and insurance industry association Forsikring & Pension (F&P) said an official indicator pension funds use to calculate expected future pensions was being revised down in the short-term because of very low interest rates.Long-term expectations, however, remained unchanged, it said.The indicator – known as the social assumptions (Samfundsforudsætningerne) – is agreed by F&P and the Bankers’ Association (Finansrådet), as part of the Danish FSA’s (Finanstilsynet) guidance on pension projections.Due to extraordinarily low interest rates, F&P said the indicator was now being divided into two parts – a short-term portion (2015-18) and a long-term portion (2019 onwards).“In the short term, interest rate and yield assumptions are lower than previously, while the conditions are maintained in the long term,” the association said.Meanwhile, labour-market pension fund PensionDanmark has appointed Hermes EOS to help implement its responsible investment policies and continue with its active ownership approach.It said Hermes EOS would provide its “full spectrum of stewardship services” on the pension fund’s foreign-listed equity portfolio of around €6.5bn, as well as help the fund manage risks and add long-term value to its investments.Jens-Christian Stougaard, director at PensionDanmark, said: “Alongside our obligation to pursue high risk-adjusted investment returns, we also have a fiduciary duty to tackle social, ethical and environmental issues.”Hermes EOS said PensionDanmark was the fourth Nordic client the company had taken on, after Unipension, PKA and Industriens Pension.