The City of Cape Town’s Neighbourhood Watch Support Programme is in the home straight of yet another successful financial year.
The programme was first launched in 2008, to help establish, train and accredit Neighbourhood Watches (NWs), in association with the Western Cape Department of Community Safety.
Since then, 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.
‘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 Neighbourhood Watch Support 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,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
In the current financial year, the City has issued a range of equipment to NWs, courtesy of Ward Allocation funding totalling R2, 689 million.
This included the distribution of dash cams, body cams, 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 NW members have been trained to receive, monitor and respond to logged requests using a range of instant messaging platforms.
The Safety and Security Directorate is also increasing its own capacity to boost the growing Neighbourhood Watch Support Programme. In this financial year, just over R1,4 million 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.
While NWs 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,’ added Alderman Smith.