JP Smith announces police intel sharing initiative with neighbourhood watches

The new move will see SAPS, Metrocops, private security and neighbourhood watches share info, after learning from the experience of local initiatives during the Durban riots





May 16, 2024

JP Smith announces police intel sharing initiative with neighbourhood watches

The City of Cape Town's Safety and Security Department is set to launch a pioneering initiative, the Civil Security Collaboration Initiative, aiming to enhance safety in vulnerable communities by partnering with local neighbourhood watches.

Inspired by the effective communication and early warnings shared by neighbourhood watch groups during the 2021 protests and looting incidents in Durban, the initiative seeks to formalize and strengthen these collaborations.

JP Smith, representing the Safety and Security Department, emphasized the pivotal role of neighbourhood watches in ensuring community safety. Smith highlighted plans for integrated communication systems and intelligence-sharing between the City and neighbourhood watches.

The initiative has already commenced with training sessions conducted virtually, simulating various scenarios such as missing children, taxi strikes, or public disorder. Smith emphasized the importance of collective agreements and preparedness drills to ensure effective responses to potential incidents.

But this move isn't universally supported by local governments. Some DA-appointed civil servants in safety and security appointed elsewhere in the Cape strongly oppose any devolution to local government and hope to discourage community involvement in security to the full extent of the law, emphasising that all matters must be handled by and through SAPS, regarding the City's devolution strategies and employment of private security as strongly undesirable.

Such civil servants have acquired a reputation for shutting the community out of intelligence sharing and rejecting their attempts at cooperation, for example in the case of the Swellendam protests in August 2023, or recent clampdowns on neighbourhood watch initiatives in Paarl.

However, in the absence of broad trust in the national police, and the increasing effectiveness of private and community safety initiatives like those of AfriForum, The collaboration between the City of Cape Town and neighbourhood watches, signifies a proactive step towards community safety, leveraging local networks and partnerships to enhance security measures and protect vulnerable areas.

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