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Local News Summary of April, 14th

  • Basel strengthens its police force amid terrorism fear
  • Stupid, expensive, and pointless: St Jakobs monument covered in graffiti again

Basel strengthens its police force amid terrorism fear

Basel’s police director yesterday (Friday) presented the new police action plan against «radicalism and terrorism».

In his presentation at the Town Hall, Baschi Dürr announced that Basel’s police force intents to take tendencies of «radicalisation» more seriously in the future. He presented a «superordinate» concept that builds on the structures of previous police work and said he wants to strengthen the security forces in the area of counter-terrorism.

The state council of Basel-Stadt relies on four fields of action: prevention, crisis precaution, protection, and repression. This coincides with a goal defined in the legislature plans for 2017-2021 to remain prepared for new challenges such as the threat of terrorism.

In its «radicalisation and terrorism» action plan, the state council said that the authorities of the canton Basel-Stadt are generally well positioned. With the new measures, it presented an overarching concept as well as specific reinforcements of the cantonal police. These measures are based on the proven structures and processes of the authorities.

In November 2016, the canton of Basel-Stadt launched an interdepartmental «task force against radicalisation». This step was taken to ensure coordinated action between the departments through regular exchanges and professional arrangements. The «contact point radicalisation», which is part of the prevention service of the cantonal police of Basel-Stadt, is open for anyone who notices the potential radicalisation of a person in their environment.

In 2017, the office received 21 enquiries regarding the suspicion of radicalisation. Nine of these cases were examined in-depth. In addition, the state council is now examining the extension of these structures to create a comprehensive management of threats. Early detection will be strengthened through the inclusion and networking of further departments.

To raise public awareness, a new flyer is available from the cantonal police, which gives the public information about what to do in the event of a terroristattack, using easy-to-understand pictograms as illustrations. Furthermore, the training of the cantonal police and rescue services was extended for better preparation when dealing with terrorist threats. The cantonal emergency organisation (KKO) is also conducting training courses on the subject of terrorism, both this year and in 2019. The concept for dealing with a large amount of injured people at one time is currently being revised along with thecanton of Baselland and will be implemented in 2018.

New protective equipment and submachine guns are to be acquired for the cantonal police corps, as well as a new protection vehicle for the special units. This can be used to evacuate people from incidents or for intervention. In order to pay for the equipment and special vehicles, the state council has applied to the grand council for a one-off grant of 4,49 million Swiss francs and 250,000 francs on a recurring basis.

Stupid, expensive, and pointless: St Jakobs monument covered in graffiti again

It is certainly not just a silly prank but rather a sign of pure destructive anger. Vandals have once again covered the St Jakobs monument at theSommercasino in graffiti.

Genuine graffiti has been part of Basel society for a long time and it is now widely accepted as works of art. However, pointless graffiti that disfigure the city is a major irritation.

The St Jakobs monument, which underwent a complete renovation in 2010, has become the latest victim. This was not the first time this has happenedsince the expensive renovation. Vandals know that they usually get away with it. The police’s hands are tied, because the perpetrators must be caught in the act.

What remains after this act of vandalism is a disfigured monument and high costs for cleaning it off. «In the case of the St Jakobs monument, a special company from Zurich had to be called in yesterday, because only this company can do this specialist cleaning on delicate stonework such as that of the St Jakobs monument», André Frauchiger, from the Basel civil engineering office, said. This makes the whole process rather expensive. «The costs of a cleaning in cases such as the St Jakobs monument amount to between 1,500 and 3,000 francs», said Mr Frauchiger.

Graffiti like at this monument are unfortunately more the rule than the exception in Basel. There is practically no street that has not already fallen victim tothese ugly marks. Once a garage or a house wall has been repainted, it is soon visited by vandals. The canton of Basel-Stadt alone pays 800,000 francs per year for the removal of graffiti. Homeowners have to pay even more than this.

The city is not the only authority struggling with these problems: the Basel Transport Services (BVB) have to spend several thousand francs every year forthe removal of graffiti and re-painting, as well as for graffiti protection at their own facilities and buildings – particularly for bus and tram stops and kiosks. To facilitate the cleaning, an additional protective coat of paint is applied during painting works.

Thanks to the cleaning company from Zurich, the St Jakobs monument has been returned to its former glory. It would be naïve to hope that it will stay that way for long. What remains is the hope of finally catching these vandals. Besides criminal proceedings, they would also be facing large fines.