Watchers get training

2015-08-04 06:01
You may have seen this poster hanging in your local community hall, identifying how social ills escalate to crime and gangsterism.

You may have seen this poster hanging in your local community hall, identifying how social ills escalate to crime and gangsterism.

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Neighbourhood watches affiliated to the Athlone community police forum gathered recently for a workshop intended to increase the effectiveness with which they patrol their respective neighbourhoods.

Charl Viljoen, community safety liaison officer for safety and security at the City of Cape Town, facilitated the two-day workshop at the Athlone police station. He guided the participants using the “broken windows” method of policing.

Zero-tolerance conceptAlthough not a new concept (after initially being introduced with success in New York in the 1980s), the “broken windows” method, also known as “zero -tolerance policing”, serves as a reminder to communities hoping to rid themselves of the social ills they are experiencing.

Theoretically, the concept places an emphasis on the surrounding environment and setting a trend in which to control social ills.

The theory states that the process of decay starts with the first broken window. Maintaining and monitoring urban environments will aid in preventing minor crimes such as vandalism and public drinking, which in turn help to cultivate a sense of order, which can contribute to preventing major crimes from taking place in that environment.

Viljoen also presented a video of social research the City of Cape Town conducted with residents.

In the test a “broken” vending machine, placed on a street corner, is seen spewing out change each time someone passes it.

A few residents try to insert the coins back into the machine, but to no avail. Other residents are seen standing, waiting for the machine to spew out more coins for them to keep.

The test is aimed at showing community members that by continually giving something to people on the streets, it will in some way have them repeat the cycle.

The message: Handouts from the public will only encourage vagrants to remain on the streets in the areas the respective neighbourhood watches oversee.

Instead of giving out food and/or money, community members are urged to take the vagrants to their nearest shelter or contact the department of social development to find out where the best place is for them to find help, thus taking them off the street and ending the cycle.

WatchesNeighbourhood watches from Sunnyside, Belgravia, New Fields, Vanguard Estate, Bokmakierie, Sonneblom, Garlandale, Habibia, Bridgetown and Crawford attended the workshop as well as community members from Belgravia, Crawford and Statice Heights.

The Bokmakierie Street Soccer and Netball Association, the Proudly Bokmakierie Youth Development organisation and the executive members of the community police forum also joined in on the workshop.

Viljoen also encouraged members to report faults and other service delivery issues to the City more regularly.

The watches will also be equipped with reflective jackets, torches, bicycles and hand-held radios once their members have completed training

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