“Go Willi” – Crime Prevention with violent prone young people in and around the Wilhelmsplatz in Göttingen

“Public viewing“ during the Soccer World Cup in 2006 lead to a constant run on public spaces in Göttingen. The Wilhelmsplatz has advanced to become a central gathering space for young people in the inner-city. Most of these youths behave in a peaceful manner. Nevertheless, complaints to the police and municipal authorities of disturbance of the peace, vandalism and criminal assault are mounting. Excessive alcohol consumption and rivalry amongst individual groups of youths foster an aggressive atmosphere, leading to verbal and physical conflict and offences. Criminal acts and offences in this area have increased by about 50% within the course of a year. Offenders and victims alike are almost always juveniles, often under 14 years of age. A de-escalation of the situation and the development of solutions to the basic problems are not only dependent upon the cooperation of all the social authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) but also on an active management of the public spaces.

“Go Willi” endeavours to overcome the limitations that bind each public institution by forming an alliance between public institutions and NGOs. This alliance is defined as “the network”: Police, youth welfare office, local authorities, town planning office, public prosecutor’s office, juvenile court, juvenile justice services, streetwork, drug-counselling service, “Projekt Kontakt” and the inner-city drop-in centre – “Blechtrommel”.

This network pools resources, creating high synergy effects. New methods for case orientated, participatory work in juvenile crime prevention can be developed. The basis for the development of crime-preventive strategies within the network was provided by an analysis of the location and situation. This had been carried out by the “Jugendhilfe Göttingen e.V.”. The “Innenstadtjugendkonferenz” became a platform for the continuity of cooperation and networking. The Präventionsrat Göttingen has been included in the network.

Network partners have agreed on three interwoven components for short-term intervention:

  •     - Police presence (particularly on weekends) and intervention, whenever necessary
  •     - Control through local authorities in cooperation with youth welfare services (e.g. enforcement of youth protection laws)
  •     - Social pedagogic work , focusing on (re-) offenders

Middle- and long-term changes at the Wilhelmsplatz have been developed with the town planning office in order to implement structural alterations which will support high-quality ambience and enhance safety.

"Go Willi" moved into its second phase in April 2008 after the approval of funding. Meanwhile (2012) "Go Willi" is implemented and fixed in Göttingens local crime prevention structures. "Go Willi" is still working at public spaces at the whole inner city parts of Göttingen. Under the guidance of streetwork and youth welfare services, behavioural norms for young offenders and victims are being developed and worked on, whilst taking individual backgrounds into consideration. Multiple offenders and ringleaders are a focal point of the project-work.

Zoom e.V. carries out an external evaluation of procedures and results. The final project report was published in 2010.


The project started in 2006 and is still running.
Last review: September 2014.


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