The Institute of Urban Security & Policing Studies was founded in June 2001 by Emeritus Professors Paul Ponsaers (Ghent University) and functioned as an interuniversitary collaboration between Ghent University and the Free University of Brussels between March 2002 and May 2012. The Institute of Urban Security & Policing Studies focuses on criminological research and research in terms of sociology of law concerning ‘social security’. The term ‘social’ emphasizes that security is not an equal item in our society: the unequal division of power, income, social and cultural capital is also reflected in the field of security. SVA wants to study this inequality and exclusion mechanisms in the field of security and describe and declare its social effects. This includes the application of quantitative as well as qualitative methods and the development and refinement of own measuring instruments to visualize phenomena such as (registered and self-reported) crime, nuisance, objective (victimization) and subjective insecurity (feelings of insecurity). The Institute conducts research on two major research lines.
The research line Urban Securitystudies in essence the causes of criminal behavior and attitudes from a contextual perspective (with special attention for diverse socio-ecological context or environmental influences), and measurement problems in criminologically relevant surveys. To be more specific, research about neighborhood characteristics and crime, objective and subjective insecurity in the city, causes of juvenile delinquency, violence in groups, the environmental spread of social cohesion, nuisance in comparative perspective has been carried out up to this date. Methodological problems are the study of the quality of police registration systems and problems of reliability and legitimacy of survey based measurement instruments.
The research line Policing has a wide angle and implies that research is conducted within the research domains police and policing, in broad sense, but also within other forms of social reaction to phenomena of (in)security. This research line focuses on the analysis of the social and the reactions in accordance with policy on phenomena of insecurity, such as the evaluation of the federal and local security policy, structural and cultural changes inside the police and their approach and the reaction of new initiatives of security and forms of alternative conflict settlement, like the tackling of financial-economic crime (compliance), the tackling of the informal economy or the tackling of radicalization. Apart from that, this research line also focuses on the blurring boundaries and the field of tension that comes with it. During the last years, the research line Policing is filled up with both contract research and fundamental research, and topics like police capacity, community policing, police interrogation and money laundering are being studied.