Development of Local Councils for Crime Prevention (GE0059)
Action Plan: Georgia National Action Plan 2016-2018
Action Plan Cycle: 2016
Lead Institution: Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia
Support Institution(s): Minicipality bodies; National Probation Agency; Ministry of Internal Affairs; Nongovernmental organizations
Policy AreasJustice, Local Commitments, Policing & Corrections, Public Participation
Development of local councils for crime prevention; Starting from 2016, the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia launched the project “Local Council”, the goal of which is to coordinate the crime prevention measures between relevant agencies and initiate new measures. At the current stage, crime prevention is a prerogative of a number of government agencies. Enhancing coordination between them is essential to avoid implementation of duplicate prevention measures by various agencies. The main goal of the project is to discuss ceiminal situation in the region, to make decisions about preventive measures required for the region, to develop initiatives and to draw up a coordination plan about fighting crime in cooperation with other government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. The project was created according to the model of the USA and represents a coordination organ on the regional level. Permanent members of the Council are the representatives of the law-enforcement (Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Interiors, Ministry of Corrections), municipalities, lawyers’ corps, NGOs. The Council may also have temporary members from the civil society. Implementation of Local Councils was launched in a pilot regime in Adjara region. In the framework of the commitment, Local Councils will be set up in Kvemo Kartli, Samegrelo in the nearest future and later in other regions of Georgia. Date ofImplementation: 2016-2017; Issues to be Addressed: Strengthened coordination between government bodies working on the crime prevention is necessary to avoid implementation of duplicate preventive measures by various agencies. A platform should be created that will enable the society members to participate in the initiation, planning and implementation of the crime prevention measures. The specificity of the regions should be considered and preventive measures adequately introduced. Main Objective: Improving coordination of measures aiming at crime prevention and combining endeavor of government and NGO sector available in this field; initiating preventive measures tailored to the local needs
IRM End of Term Status Summary
18. Development of Local Councils for crime prevention
Starting from 2016, the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia launched the project “Local Council”, the goal of which is to coordinate the crime prevention measures between relevant agencies and initiate new measures. At the current stage, crime prevention is a prerogative of a number of government agencies. Enhancing coordination between them is essential to avoid implementation of duplicate prevention measures by various agencies.
The main goal of the project is to discuss criminal situation in the region, to make decisions about preventive measures required for the region, to develop initiatives and to draw up a coordination plan about fighting crime in cooperation with other government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. The project was created according to the model of the USA and represents a coordination organ on the regional level. Permanent members of the Council are the representatives of the law-enforcement (Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of Interiors, Ministry of Corrections), municipalities, lawyers’ corps, NGOs. The Council may also have temporary members from the civil society.
Implementation of Local Councils was launched in a pilot regime in Adjara region. In the framework of the commitment, Local Councils will be set up in Kvemo Kartli, Samegrelo in the nearest future and later in other regions of Georgia.
Responsible institution(s): Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia
Supporting institution(s): Municipality bodies, National Probation Agency, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Nongovernmental organizations
Start date: March 2016 End date: December 2017
In March 2016, the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia (hereinafter, Prosecutor’s Office or POG) started a project “Local Council.” The aim of the project is to provide a platform for stakeholders to discuss the criminal landscape and coordinate crime prevention activities in regions of Georgia, as well as to increase public awareness of the law, and develop trust toward the Prosecutor’s Office.   According to the action plan, there was a risk of different government agencies duplicating crime prevention activities, therefore, the project aimed to reduce this possibility by increasing coordination through local council meetings. The initial goal of the Prosecutor’s Office within the action plan was to establish local councils in at least six regions of Georgia and conduct at least ten meetings by the end of 2017.
The commitment was fully implemented on time. By the midterm, the Prosecutor’s Office set up 12 crime prevention councils across the country, including in Zugdidi, Ozurgeti, Akhaltsikhe, Rustavi, Marneuli, Bolnisi, Khelvachauri, and Telavi. At least one meeting per council was held. The events were publicized in the local media, including television channels and newspapers. By the midterm, a few projects proposed during the council meetings were implemented, including an advocacy campaign promoting road safety and a campaign against domestic violence. 
The commitment can be assessed as complete, considering that the lead agency established 22 councils and organized 36 meetings in past two years. Since the midterm assessment in August 2017, the Prosecutor’s Office conducted 22 meetings, including in the capital, Tbilisi, as well as other regions of Georgia.   The first meetings were in Tbilisi and Sighnaghi, while 16 local councils later met within the timeframe of the action plan. During the meetings in Tbilisi, the participants discussed measures to prevent drug crimes, while domestic violence was an important topic for discussion on meetings in the regions.
Did It Open Government?
Access to Information: Marginal
Civic Participation: Marginal
The local councils provided a platform for information-sharing about crime prevalence and relevant statistics in their respective locations, as well as about studies published by the Prosecutor’s Office. It also allowed CSOs and the population to voice concerns about pressing issues, such as domestic violence in Kvemo Kartli for instance.  During the meetings, local state authorities and CSO representatives were able to plan activities around domestic violence and violence against women in eight cities: Telavi, Rustavi, Kutaisi, Gori, Zugdidi, Mtskheta, Samtredia, and Kutaisi. 
The meetings are usually planned on a central level; the Chief Prosecutor’s Office schedules and invites participants to ensure monitoring and coordination. The Prosecutor’s Office provides suggestions and advises on topics to be discussed at the local council meetings in the regions, depending on the crime situation in respective geographical locations. The councils allow “free space” at the end of the agenda, where participants are able to put forward issues of their own interest. Thus, stakeholders get information regarding crime prevalence and discuss its possible solutions, but also can provide input and engage in dialogue. Generally, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia publishes records on crime prevalence, which are also publicly available through the National Statistics Office of Georgia (GeoStat)’s website, with monthly reports and criminal justice statistics by region.  While this information was previously available through these websites, the local councils expanded communication channels and made the information more accessible, especially in regions where internet access is low. All councils send meeting minutes to the Prosecutor’s Office, which collects, analyzes, and publishes relevant information in the “Report of the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia.” There also exists an annual report on the work of the local councils, however, the document is not publicly available. Despite numerous requests to the representative of the Prosecutor’s Office, the IRM researcher could not get the document.
The Prosecutor’s Office developed a document regulating the councils’ functions, responsibilities, and scope of activities, which was expected to be formalized by the end of 2018.  The councils usually consist of permanent and non-permanent members, including local prosecutors, the public defender, representatives of law enforcement agencies, and relevant CSOs.  In terms of civic engagement, prior to the local councils, there was no formal mechanism to regulate how CSOs and the public could provide recommendations and suggestions to local law enforcement agencies or the POG. This initiative created this space and formalized the process.
As the POG representative stated, as a result of the local council activities, crime victim appeals, and criminal prosecution have both increased in past years; however, there is no verified evidence or studies about causality between the initiatives and increase in the mentioned data. 
On the other hand, the civil society representative noted a lack of communication and low public awareness of the local councils.  A representative of Transparency International (TI) Georgia mentioned discussing the local criminal landscape and preventative measures, as well as plans for future cooperation at two council meetings in Batumi, however they did not result in concrete joint initiatives. 
Focus group participants in three municipalities (Akhlatsikhe, Ozurgeti, and Zugdidi) were unaware of the council activities,  which supports expanding the scope of public and CSO outreach. While local media covered the meetings, media coverage and TV appearances can be insufficient visibility. In the majority of the reported meetings, participants included representatives from state and nongovernmental sectors, however citizen participation was limited. 
The commitment was not carried forward into the fourth action plan. Nevertheless, the Strategy of the Prosecutor of Georgia 2017−2021 involves expansion of local councils in the regions of Georgia.  For the sustainability of the initiative, the IRM midterm report recommended that the Prosecutor’s Office develop and adopt formal participation rules, ensure regular meetings, and adopt a standard procedure for council meetings. It would also be beneficial to publish meeting minutes and encourage inter-municipality information exchanges between permanent councilmembers. Report of The Chief Prosecutor of Georgia 2018 (Prosecution Service of Georgia, 6 Feb. 2016), http://pog.gov.ge/res/docs/ReportoftheChiefProsecutor2017.pdf.
 Natia Mukhiashvili (Prosecutor at Analytical Division of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia), interview with IRM researcher, 16 Oct. 2018.
 Report of The Chief Prosecutor of Georgia 2018 (Prosecution Service of Georgia, 6 Feb. 2016).
 Report of The Chief Prosecutor of Georgia 2018 (Prosecution Service of Georgia, 6 Feb. 2016).
 National Statistics Office of Georgia’s criminal justice statistics are available at: http://www.geostat.ge/index.php?action=page&p_id=602&lang=eng.
 Mukhiashvili, interview 16 Oct. 2018.
 Gogidze and Gzirishvili, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Georgia Progress Report 2016-2017 (OGP, 30 Apr. 2018).
 Malkhaz Chkadua (Regional Offices Manager at Transparency International), e-mail correspondence with IRM researcher, 31 Oct. 31, 2018.
 Chkadua, interview 31 Oct. 2018.
 Focus Groups conducted by IRM researcher: Akhaltsike 19 Oct. 2018; Ozurgeti 22 Oct. 2018; Zugdidi 23 Oct. 2018.
 Kvira, “Presentation of the Local Council in Bolnisi, within the “Local Councils” project” (29 Jun. 2018), http://kvira.ge/407472; ProfNews, “Samtredia Regional Prosecutor’s Office organized presentation of the Local Council” (4 Aug. 2017), https://bit.ly/2CPtsUm; Zari News, “The Prosecutor’s Office established a Local Council” (Zari News’ YouTube Channel, 10 Aug. 2017) https://bit.ly/2Q83H5s.
 Strategy of Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia 2017-2021 (Prosecution Service of Georgia), http://pog.gov.ge/res/docs/saqartvelosprokuratuirsstrategia.pdf.