“A good neighbour increases the value of you property”
– Czech Proverb
To know your neighbours is a proactive way to add an extra level of security to your house, your neighbourhood and assists in circumventing criminal activity. Most home burglaries occur during the day when people are away at work or at school. Burglaries are generally not random events and they involve a simple selection process i.e. select the home that is easy to access, that is currently unoccupied and that has an easy escape route. You and your good neighbours can watch out for each other and if they observe anything suspicious, when you are away from home, they can report this to you and the police.
In South Africa, another way for you to get to know your neighbours and proactively tackle crime in your neighbourhood is to participate in community policing and community policing forums.
Community policing is about making crime control more effective, improving co-operation between the police and civil society and addressing community safety concerns in a more focused manner. Enhancing the quality of information made available to the police, improving communication with the police, providing a more accessible police presence and aligning the communities’ values to that of the SAPS, is how neighbours in all areas can benefit.
The structures used to facilitate these partnerships between the police and the community are the community police forums (CPF). These are legislated structures (under the South African Police Service Act, No. 68 of 1995 Section 19 (1) and 64c (f)) that typically comprise police departments and community based organisations such as schools, religious organisations, youth groups, ratepayers’ associations, civic organisations and businesses . Other interested members of the community, who are not part of any specific organisations, are also eligible to participate.
As indicated on the website Lyttelton Sector 1 CPF, the CPF aims to solve the problems of physical and social disorder and neighbourhood decay, through greater police accountability, transparency and effectiveness in the community.
According to the KZN Community Safety website the functions of a CPF are governed by the CPF’s constitutions, but will generally include:-
- Promoting accountability of the local police to the community and co-operation of the community with the local police.
- Monitoring the effectiveness and efficiency of the police serving the community.
- Examine and advise on local policing priorities.
- Evaluate the provision of services such as:
- Distribution of resources
- The way complaints and charges are handled
- Patrolling of residential and business areas
- Keeping records, writing reports and making recommendations to the Station Commissioners, the Provincial Commissioner and the MEC.
By joining your local CPF you strengthen the relationships among neighbours, neighbourhoods, the community at large and the police. It empowers you, and other members of the community, to have a say in securing the community. To get details on how to join your local CPF, speak to your local SAPS Community Policing Officer or Station Commissioner and they will give you more details.
5 Ways to be Good Neighbours
- Get to know your neighbours on each side of your home and the three directly across the street
- Invite them around for a meal and a chat and establish trust
- Agree to watch out for each other’s home
- Communicate often
- Join your local Community Policing Forum
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