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City helps neighbourhood watches

The City of Cape Town plans to spend more than R3m as part of the neighbourhood watch (NHW) support programme.

A statement reads that funding has seen more than 25 000 individuals trained since its launch in 2008. “The programme aims to help establish, train and accredit neighbourhood watches, in association with the Western Cape Department of Community Safety. Since 2008, a total of 209 organisations have been successfully accredited and more than 25 000 neighbourhood watch members have undergone training in the broken windows theory and other community policing principles.”

The City’s Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, said they have seen good results through this programme.

“It’s been more than a decade since efforts got underway to strengthen community policing structures and we’ve seen good results.

“The City and province continue to plough resources into the programme, because we recognise the value in it, but also the opportunities for dedicated watch members; some of whom have been drafted into our facilities protection initiative as well as our Law Enforcement Auxiliary service.

“In the current financial year, the City has issued a range of equipment to NHWs, courtesy of ward allocation funding totalling R2 689 million.

“This included the distribution of dash cameras, body cameras, reflective jackets and vests, rechargeable flashlights, headlamps, spotlights, floodlights, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, backpacks, hand radios and accessories. The hand radios are linked to base stations installed in strategic locations across the city. These are linked to the Traffic Management Centre control room in Goodwood for response to emergency requests.

“In addition, 13 dedicated neighbourhood members have been trained to receive, monitor and respond to logged requests using a range of instant messaging platforms.”

Smith said the Safety and Security Directorate is also increasing its own capacity to boost the growing the programme. “In this financial year, just over R1,4m has been dedicated to the recruitment of four community safety liaison officers and a finance officer. The City’s Safety and Security Directorate entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Western Cape Department of Community Safety in 2018, which is guided by the Community Safety legislation, around a code of conduct for neighbourhood watches and their structure, including applying for accreditation with the provincial government.”

Smith said while NHWs are not obliged to apply for accreditation, doing so enables them to benefit from the support and training provided by government.

“Any undertaking is more effective when you have everyone pulling in the same direction, and community safety is no different.

“The Neighbourhood Watch sector can only benefit from accreditation, training and support which helps to create a uniform approach to crime fighting and strengthens the efforts of the volunteers who are working very hard to make their streets safer.”

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