Creating a safer garden

2016-09-06 06:00

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After less than six months, a programme to train youth has seen crime and antisocial behaviour in the Company’s Garden dropping.

The pilot was initiated in April between the Western Cape Government’s Department of Community Safety (Docs), the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) and the City of Cape Town, to run a programme utilising students from the Chrysalis Academy to provide a safety and ambassadorial service to the Company’s Garden and in turn to provide students from the academy with work experience, says the Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Dan Plato.

Muneeb Hendricks, manager of safety and security for the Cape Town CCID, says “these youth, trained by the CCID under an operational supervisor dedicated to this task, act as ambassadors in the space for three months at a time in order to provide them with work experience”.

At the moment there is a complement of 17 students with a recorded 70% success rate of students staying in the programme, Plato says. “The numbers are in transition as some students leave the programme, finding it is not for them, while others successfully find jobs and manage to move on to full-time employment.”

The students are tasked to assist both locals and tourists, address social issues, maintain a visible presence, identify illegal dumping and build relationship with surrounding stakeholders, Plato explains.

“Recently, the Company’s Garden has become an opportunistic place for criminal activity to take place. It is not officially covered by the CCID, and the private security presence that was on site was underresourced.

“However, it has a high volume of foot traffic every day and is a hugely important historic place that caters to both locals and tourists, not to mention the importance of the venues on its periphery such as schools and museums,” he says.

Although the programme was designed to have Chrysalis graduates play more of an ambassadorial role than a security one, the positive spin-off in having them deployed within the Company’s Garden was the fact that their presence resulted in a heightened visible security perception being created, Plato says.

“As these members were partnered with CCID public safety officers who also have the backup of City Law Enforcement officers, arrests were also enabled thanks to the students’ vigilance, and as a result various bylaw infringements have been addressed.”

Some of the results include arrests for robbery, possession of stolen property, drugs and dangerous weapons, the removal of illegal structures, reporting illegal trading and reporting urban issues.

The Cape Town Central Community Policing Forum has confirmed a drop in crime. The Cape Town Central police had not commented at the time of going to print.

To assist the students in their daily tasks, two kiosks were also donated by Docs – one at the intersection of Wale Street and Government Avenue, and the other at the Delville Wood Memorial, explains Hendricks.

“The pilot project has been demonstrating huge successes. We’ve received complimentary feedback from the venues in the area that the students and kiosks are providing that much-needed sense of security in their visible presence, and we have seen a drop overall in criminal activity and anti-social behaviour in the garden, creating a culture of law abidance by its users,” says Hendricks.

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