Pacto Pela Vida-PPV
Secretariat of Planning and Management

The Problem

For decades, the state of Pernambuco was known as one of the most violent in Brazil. Studies show that in the 30 years prior to 2007, Pernambuco consistently maintained a level of violent crime among the highest in Brazil, reaching in 2001 a rate of 58.8 deaths by violent assault per 100,000 inhabitants, according to data from the National Health System, linked to the Ministry of Health. Such rate was 111% higher than the national average, which was 27.9 per 100,000 inhabitants at the time. The state capital, Recife, between 2000 and 2005, had the highest murder rate among all 27 state capitals in five of those six years, reaching levels above big cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília. In 2006, the year before the launch of the State’s Program to Fight Violence, known as “Pacto pela Vida” (Pact in Favor of Life), Pernambuco registered 4,478 deaths by intentional homicide according to the same source, following an upward curve since the beginning of the decade.
The studies also showed that during the same period, crime and violence in the state were concentrated in more urbanized municipalities with higher population and they also revealed that 93.4% of deaths by intentional homicide were of male, young or adult citizens. The studies also found a high rate of Violent Crime against property (CVP) – a composite index for all types of theft involving the use of violence, including kidnapping. Pernambuco also showed record levels of violence against women. From 2003 to 2006, the state average was almost a woman killed per day.
There was not an effective public security policy, and this absence resulted in several inefficiencies in the state’s public security system: little dialogue and cooperation between the Public Security Secretariat, the Judiciary, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and other government levels, lack of prevention and rehabilitation initiatives, low rates of imprisonment and investigations’ opening and completion and high availability of firearms without control. Other problems were the high inefficiency in key processes such as offering complaints (Prosecutor’s Office), judging criminals (Judiciary) and arrest warrant execution.
The modernization of the economy favored the expansion of crime and illegal economic activity, such as drug dealing. Besides, there was little Government presence in the regions of greatest social vulnerability. In summary, at the time, it was evident that the State was unable to formulate and implement effective public security policies.
In 2007, after taking over as state governor, Eduardo Campos announced the creation of the Pacto pela Vida Program, with the objective of facing objectively and effectively the state’s public security problem, aiming not only at the reduction of violence and homicide rates, but also involving the fight against the entire set of crimes that caused the population of Pernambuco to live in fear. The program’s main goal is to reduce the state’s homicide rate by 12% each year. The final aim is to achieve, in eight years, the average homicide rate for Brazilian states, which is 27 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The Pacto pela Vida Program is Pernambuco’s first public security plan, and has as main objectives the prevention and qualified repression of violence and the continuous reduction of crime through 138 projects and integrated actions, implemented by various sectors of the state. It is a program led by the Governor and chaired and coordinated by the Secretariat of Planning and Management - SEPLAG, being managed through an integrated management model, which prioritizes the intensive monitoring and constant evaluation of the actions developed in addition to the ongoing monitoring of crime rates through an indicator called CVLI (intentional homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants).
The Pacto pela Vida Program comprises a Steering Committee, coordinated by the Secretary of Planning and Management, and six Technical Chambers: Public Security; Prison Administration; Communication with the Judiciary, prosecutor’s office and Public Defenders; Social Prevention; Fight against crack, and Coping with Gender Violence Against Women. The chambers have the responsibility to coordinate with the representatives of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches, the actions defined by the Steering Committee to reduce violence.
The Pacto pela Vida Program has three major achievements. The first major breakthrough was the continuous annual reduction in the homicide rate since the beginning of the program. The rate, which was of 55.1 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2006, started decreasing with the implementation of the Program, having reached 38.7 in 2011. So, in six years, the rate was reduced by 29.7% in the state, making Pernambuco the only state in the Northeast of Brazil to reduce crime in the last decade.
The second great achievement was to improve the responsiveness of the State, arising from an increased presence of security forces in critical areas, a higher efficiency by prosecutors in denouncing crimes, improved rates of initiation and completion of investigations and increased rates of execution of arrest warrants. All of these were the result of the engagement and integration of the above-mentioned stakeholders in the management of the Program.
The third major achievement of the Pacto pela Vida Program was the reduction of the rate of crimes against property (CVP), which fell by 34.4% in four years in the capital and 26.6% in Recife’s Metropolitan Area.
The CVLI (homicide rate) and CVP (rate of crimes against property) indicators are calculated based on the information about daily occurrences of crimes against life and against property. Such information is fed into the Infopol system by the state police. The indicators are then validated by the Department of Criminal Statistics and Analysis (GACE),a division of the Public Security Secretariat (SDS), through comparison with similar indicators measured by the National Secretariat of Public Security (SENASP) for the state. This information is analyzed by the Secretariat of Planning and Management and serves as a basis for decision making in regular meetings and follow-up monitoring.
The benefits of the success of the Program have not only been felt by Pernambuco’s society as a whole, but especially by the portion of the state’s population which is most vulnerable to crime.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
After winning the election and having the issue of fighting violence been a campaign commitment, the Governor of Pernambuco, in 2007, summoned representatives of civil society organizations, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, the prosecutors, the Universities and the Lawyers’ Bar Association to a forum attended by Secretaries of State. The participants, on 8th May, agreed to a set of 138 projects and actions embodied in a document called Pacto pela Vida, signed by the participants. The Pacto pela Vida Program was implemented by the Government as the state’s first Public Security Plan.

The program has been implemented by SEPLAG, through its expertise in project management, and also by the state agents working with prevention (civil servants in the areas of social service, health, law and support to minorities) and those who work with public security (detectives, military policemen, re-socialization officers and firemen).
It is important to highlight the participation of agents of the State Legislative Branch, which passed laws to provide legal backing to the control, meritocratic and administrative mechanisms, and also enabled the implementation of improvements in prevention and repression initiatives.
The representatives of the Judiciary - Judges, Prosecutors and Public Defenders, participate actively in weekly meetings and work on the implementation of integrated actions of re-socialization. The improvement of the cooperation with the Executive Branch, made possible to implement the demands of the Pacto pela Vida Program.
Another important element of the Program is the fact that it is constantly monitored by the organized civil society, through blogs and discussion forums on the topic of crime in the state, which were created since the launch of the program, such as,, and

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The Pacto pela Vida Program was structured around six strategies derived from its main objective to prevent and reduce crime and violence continuously in Pernambuco. These strategies were formulated during a Conference held in 2007, and were validated and adopted as state policy by the Government in the same year.
The first strategy was Qualified Violence Repression. It consisted in actions which aimed at integrating the public security system. These actions made possible: i) the replenishment of the police force, ii) the implementation of a management model in the public security system, iii) the training of police officers to improve their deterrent and investigative effectiveness and vi) the creation of internal control systems to avoid organizational deviations;
The second strategy related to Institutional Development, and it redesigned and modernized processes and operating routines directly related to the technical capacity of police organizations and the Criminal Justice System. The work processes, which used to focus on the operation of corporations, were significantly altered, so as to focus primarily on the achievement of results and crime reduction.
The third strategy was called Information and Knowledge Management and consisted in the consolidation and integration of information to be safely released, assuring transparency. As a result, Pernambuco started to have nationally reliable statistics of homicides. The CVLI indicator was created, encompassing not only the many crimes of aggression followed by death, like the SENASP indicator, but also deaths resulting from confrontation with the police.
The fourth strategy was named Education and Training, and involved the implementation of a continuous education scheme for the training of new agents and for the improvement and updating of the police’s knowledge and technical procedures. A unified Police Academy was created, for the training of both military and civil policemen, and its teachers were given a pay rise.
The fifth strategy was the Social Prevention of Crime and Violence, and consisted of initiatives which aimed to prevent the crime from happening as well as to change the social and institutional conditions that can influence criminal activity. Among these actions, we highlight the Attitude Program, a crack prevention initiative, which follows three lines of action: (1) Attitude in the Streets, which places professionals in drug use sites, maps users, and provides care for detoxification and recovery of the addict; (2) Support the Attitude, which supports the Attitude in the Streets and welcomes volunteers for a preliminary and overnight care; and (3) Intensive Attitude, which offers to addicts a stay of up to six months in locations away from the place of drug use as well as social and psychological assistance.
The sixth strategy was called Democratic Management. Since the formulation of the program, with the Forum held in May 2007, as well as the I State Conference on Public Security, held in 2009, and also through the public security theme rooms in the Regional Seminars in 2011, the Pacto pela Vida program prioritized the participation of civil society in the formulation and monitoring of public security policies.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The first step in the Pacto pela Vida Program strategic formulation happened when the State Forum of Public Safety took place in March and April 2007. The Forum was carried out in two moments: the Thematic Chambers and the plenary session. The Thematic Chamber’s meetings, held on 24th and 25th March 2007, hosted a debate between experts, academics, members of civil society organizations with expertise in specific sectors of public safety and public sector managers from federal, state and municipal levels. The Plenary session held on 21st April 2007 had the task of evaluating, proposing changes, improving and approving the final version of Pacto pela Vida Program. As a result, on 8th May 2007, the Pacto pela Vida Program was officially launched by the Governor of the state, as a public policy. It became the State Security Plan.
The second step was to devise the monitoring system with the implementation of the Pacto pela Vida Steering Committee, on 12th September 2008. After the set up of the Steering Committee, the public security indicators began to be monitored weekly in a situation room where representatives of state agencies involved in the prevention and repression of violence meet. This meeting takes place under the management of SEPLAG. Also in 2008, the monitoring meetings started to have the active participation of representatives from the newly created Technical Chambers of Prevention, Resocialization, Articulation and Safety, gathering other entities outside the executive branch: Judicial Branch, Public Prosecutors Office and Public Defenders.
In 2008, the Pacto pela Vida Program has made progress in its third step, with the implementation of the Governo Presente (Present Government) Program in locations with the highest crime statistics. It is a project that coordinates the actions of various Secretariats for the social prevention of violence. This initiative involved the setting up of Opportunity Centers in such locations, where residents can find out about actions promoted by the Government in those communities, including vocational qualifications. It is aimed at social sectors most exposed to violence and crime, such as people who left rehabilitation and prison systems, victims and perpetrators of violence, people in situations of threat, drug users and addicts, focusing on crack consumption.
The fourth step happened in 2009, when the State Conference of Public Safety was held from 22nd to 24th July, where the Pacto pela Vida Program had its mechanisms, controls, and results externally assessed and approved by the public. A document was produced which supported the actions undertaken so far and called for new actions to further reduce violence and crime.
In 2011, the Pacto pela Vida Program took its fifth step, with the implementation of the Attitude Program, through which the actions aimed at the prevention and assistance services to drug users were increased. With the Attitude Program a set of services provided by the state to crack users and their families was implemented.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The main obstacle is the complexity inherent to fighting crime, since there are many variables - including cultural ones, - which predispose society to violence. Any government program that intends to act in this area will have to deal with the same issue. To overcome this obstacle, the Pacto pela Vida Program, through its Thematic Chambers, adopted a strategy of systematic replanning based on the data obtained during monitoring. The Program has always tried implementing new actions and following new approaches to fighting violence.
Another obstacle was insufficient staff and poor infrastructure of public agencies. This obstacle has been overcome through heavy investment: Total replacement of the vehicle fleet; hiring of more than 10 thousand new police officers, new equipment purchases; building of Public Security Integrated Areas - AIS - new facilities especially designed for battalions and police stations to work together; and also the refurbishment and expansion of prisons and police stations.
A third obstacle was the low level of motivation of the civil servants that would be involved in the Pacto pela Vida Program, which was caused by lack of an human resource policy. To overcome it, improvements in wages and bonuses related to the performance of police officers were granted. In addition, a biannual award was established for the units that met the goals set for reducing crime. Also, bonuses were created to encourage productivity (apprehension of crack and its derivatives, of guns and issuance of arrest warrants).
Another obstacle that was identified was the poor feeding of police information into the database. In order to solve this problem all Police Stations in Pernambuco have been computerized and the network infrastructure has been improved. In addition, police units’ work processes, which used to focus on the operation of the police, have been revised and started to focus mainly on the achievement of results and reduction of crime.
A fifth obstacle, shared by most police forces in the world, was the corruption in part of the police force. In order to address it, the Pacto pela Vida Program prioritized the strengthening of the activities related to policing the police. This was done through the creation of an Internal Affairs Division common to all police forces, which operates in specially built headquarters, the deployment of intelligence actions and the implementation of changes in the laws to allow a faster dismissal of bad policemen.
Finally, another obstacle was the historic low productivity of the justice system, which could be seen from the low quality of police investigations until 2007, the backlog of unconcluded lawsuits and the lack of speed in the judgment of the proceedings. This obstacle is being faced with greater integration among the members of the Judiciary and the other actors involved with the violence fighting, as well as by carrying out task forces for the reduction in the stock of cases.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
A first set of investments was made in the recovery of the working conditions of the state police. From an average of R$24 million invested in the four years prior to the Pacto pela vida Program, the state government started to invest an average of R$ 81 million per year in actions such as: i) replacement of the entire fleet of police cars and purchase of helicopters ii) expansion of the operational fleet by 50% iii) purchase of basic working equipment such as weapons, vests and handcuffs, and iv) total equipping of the Fire Department.
Another set of investments was related to the improvement of physical infrastructure and spatial coverage of the security forces. From 2008 to 2011, thirty police stations were completely refurbished and six Integrated Security Areas (AIS) were built in the State.
The implementation of the Pacto pela vida Program resulted in the technological modernization of police work. Analog communication was replaced by digital communication, with the construction of six telecommunication sites, replacement of radios and implementation of videoconferencing for communication between the Military Police command and the Battalions in the countryside. All police stations were computerized. It enabled the implementation of the Electronic Police Reports and the online feeding into the Criminal Occurrences Information System. A Video Surveillance Center was also established, the largest in all North and Northeast regions, with the installation of high-resolution cameras on 450 strategic locations in the city of Recife.
Investments were also made in the organizational restructuring of the police force with the creation of seven new Women's Protection police stations, the Homicide Department (DHPP), the Drug Enforcement Department (DENARC), the Department of crimes against property (DEPATRI) and the Department for the Protection of Children and Adolescents (GPCA) were created.
In order to make the Pacto pela Vida Program operational, it was necessary to invest in human resources. The replenishment of the police force was a priority, and over 6,000 military police officers, 3,000 civil police officers and 1,000 firefighters were hired. These new employees were mobilized in police operations devised and implemented within the scope of the Pacto pela vida Program such as Operation Fire carousel, in which a blitz is carried out to approach to vehicles; Operation Zero Risk, in which establishments that sell alcoholic beverages are approached; Operation Crack, to close drugs selling points and Operation Counter Threat, which carries out the hearing of people who make threats to others.
Regarding human resources, wage improvements were granted and compensation based on merit was implemented, both for police units that managed to get the best performance in reducing crime, but also those units with better productivity in the police procedures. The Award for Social Defense was instituted and it benefited about 30 thousand Public Security professionals from the units that reached the annual goal of 12% reduction in the homicide rate. These initiatives meant a 87.7% increase in the investments in human resources, in real terms, compared to the level observed before the implementation of the Program.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The sustainability of the Pacto pela Vida Program is based primarily on the change in organizational culture that is already being experienced by the security forces of Pernambuco. This change is the result of work processes carried out daily for five years and have been internalized in the organizations involved in the program, such as: working with goals, prioritizing intelligence initiatives, commitment to results, improved quality of investigations and commitment to transparency and accountability. Another initiative that promoted the culture change was the training of more than 24,000 police officers, or 80% of the workforce, in the routines and practices of the Pacto pela vida Program.
Regarding the financial sustainability of the Pacto pela Vida program, after its implementation Pernambuco’s annual investment in public security using its own resources reached a new level, 86.6% higher than what used to be done previously.
Another aspect that promoted the sustainability of the Pacto pela Vida program was the promulgation of several legal milestones that ensured the institutionalization of the measures adopted within the scope of the Program, such as: i) the formalization of the Pacto pela Vida Program as a public safety policy in 2007, ii ) the publication of Law 13,368, in 2007, establishing criteria for distribution among municipalities of the main state tax (ICMS) depending on results in reducing homicides iii) the publication of Law 14,024, in 2010, establishing the Public Security Award for law-enforcement officers (merit), iv) the publication of Law 14,320, in 2011, establishing mechanisms for measuring the productivity of civil and military police; v) the publication of Decree 38,576, in 2012, creating the Technical Board to Fight Gender Violence against Women.
The dissemination of procedures, practices and outcomes of the Pacto pela Vida Program happens regularly at institutional level, through the Government Annual Report, the Social Action Report published every four months, the Criminal Conjuncture Quarterly Bulletins (available for public viewing in and the specific site of the Program ( The Program and its successful results also have been the subject of articles and reports in the state, national and international media, such as those available in, and http :/ /
This dissemination made possible the transfer of the Pacto pela Vida Program’s technology to municipalities and other states. The newly elected mayor of the state capital has already adopted in his government program the implementation the Pacto pela Vida Program in Recife, even with the participation of some professionals from the state government. Another example is the state of Bahia, which after sending teams to visit Pernambuco for more than three months, launched in 2011 its Pacto pela Vida Program, with the same operations and the same name. The country’s capital, Brasília, and the states of Goiás, Paraíba and Alagoas also got inspiration from the mechanisms adopted in Pernambuco to create their own programs to fight violence. Other countries, such as Argentina, Paraguay and Colombia, have also sent missions to the State of Pernambuco to learn about the Pacto pela vida Program.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The first and most direct impact of the Pacto pela Vida Program was the continued reduction in crime rates in Pernambuco after its implementation, whether in crimes against life or in crimes against property, changing the violence curve, which used to be ascending and now is continuously descending.
The homicide rate of 55.1 seen in 2006 fell to 53.97 in 2007, 52.68 in 2008, 46.2 in 2009, 39.9 in 2010 and in 2011 it finally reached 38.7, and is projected to reach 35.9 in 2012. There was a 29.7% decrease in the homicide rate rate in Pernambuco in six years. Comparing the results of the first four years of the Pacto pela Vida program with results from similar programs implemented in other countries, the reduction in homicide rate achieved in this period in Recife (-35.4%), was higher than results obtained by the Zero Tolerance program in New York (-8.2%) and the program to Fight Violence in Bogotá (-17.5%).
Another major impact, which results from the first one, is the fact that Pernambuco is no longer one of the most violent states in Brazil, according to data from the Ministry of Health data, which, in turn, results in an improved sense of security perceived by society.
Some important lessons were learned in the process of developing and implementing the Pacto pela Vida program. One concerns the preponderant importance of doing an accurate diagnosis of the problem situation in order to guide the Government actions, as the one carried out before the 2007 Forum and which guided the discussions of that event. Another lesson we learnt is related to the integration and engagement of technical staff in the process of building a strategy aimed at acting effectively on the violence issue, bringing a high level of reliability and technicality to the process of formulation and implementation of the program.
Another lesson is the importance of the implementation of an intensive monitoring system of the actions developed and ongoing monitoring of crime rates for the analysis of the difficulties encountered and the taking of corrective actions.
And finally, the sponsorship and intense involvement of the State Governor, the main authority of the Program, stand out as the one of the most important factor for its success.
The results of a program like the Pacto pela Vida, creates in the population a feeling of increased safety resulting from more effective Government actions. With the implementation of the program, crimes that victimized part of the population, and that were not even investigated, have become a priority target for the police force. It is this sense of respect for the most vulnerable, which makes the Pacto pela Vida program a striking and pioneering initiative in Brazil. Losing the position of one of the most violent states in the country, with continuous year by year reductions in homicides, and more than 4,000 lives saved make the Pacto pela Vida a success story, leaving as a legacy to the population safety as a public asset throughout Pernambuco.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Secretariat of Planning and Management
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Vivianne Câmara
Title:   Analyst  
Telephone/ Fax:   558131823852
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   1377, Aurora St - Santo Amaro
Postal Code:   50040090
City:   Recife
State/Province:   Pernambuco
Country:   Brazil

          Go Back

Print friendly Page