The issue of crime prevention

Keith Blake, Ottery

We are entering a brand-new year with its many challenges that we cannot ignore but have to deal with as a nation.

The one issue I would like to bring to the forefront is the issue of crime prevention.The top dog in the yard is the South African Police Services which have to try and do this crime prevention with their presence, operational plans and community communication but they cannot do it alone; they have to do this in conjunction with partners and this is very clear in the South African Police Service Act no.68 of 1995 section 18 (1) (a)m, which states that they have to establish and maintain a partnership between the community and SAPS. We are all aware that some of the other partners in uniform are all the law enforcement agencies, Marine Coastal Management and game wardens and we pray that in this new year these combined forces are going to work even more closer.

As part of this partnership, you and I cannot sit on the fence doing nothing and expect others to do something. First and foremost, we must support and respect SAPS as they carry out their motto Servamus et Servami – we protect and we serve.

We as individuals must become legal crime preventers in our own right by ensuring that we take steps to safeguard our families and our properties and there are many ways of doing this, for example installing alarms, keeping watch dogs, keeping all property under lock and key and taking heed of crime trends in your area.

We must join the registered neighbourhood watches and play an active role to patrol. Businesses have to come on board and install proper surveillance cameras and alarms and hire registered security officers to protect their premises. Security officers are important partners who need to be appreciated and respected as their services and uniformed presence is a crime prevention nemesis for criminals.

The other part of the security services which does not seem to be appreciated is the uniformed car guards at parking areas. They are so important in preventing car theft and theft out of our motor vehicles, not to mention ensuring our personal safety, and we reward their service and presence without recognition and sometimes with a meagre tip.

This year take a new look at these dedicated men and women and appreciate them.

One of the biggest themes in crime prevention is the lack of communication, so promote communication between SAPS and the community.

The community does not attend imbizos and community policing forum meetings when it is advertised, so only a few are informed of issues regarding crime. These meetings should be full house and promote joint problem-identification and problem-solving.

The other issue in this regard is the media. This vital resource is not being fully used and here we need a dedicated marriage between the crime fighters and newspaper editors to talk to us, the community, on crime prevention issues.

Our local councillors also have a major role to play in partnership with SAPS as they can help create structures or environmental design in crime prevention by, for example, installing surveillance cameras, cutting down trees that offer camouflage to criminals, restoring street lights, putting up speed humps and the list goes on – and all to the benefit of us, the community.

“Together Against Crime” should be everyone’s mission and let us be encouraged by a quote from Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

* Mr Blake is a retired police officer and active in various community projects.