The facilities protection pilot project launched earlier this year to curb vandalism and theft at 10 City facilities has provided the blueprint for the expansion of the project in hot-spots across Cape Town. The City of Cape Town intends to more than double the resources allocated to its facility protection officers (FPOs) initiative. The programme was piloted in Nyanga and Gugulethu earlier this year, with the appointment of 50 local neighbourhood watch members as facility wardens and eight auxiliary law enforcement officers to patrol and protect sports complexes and community centres. They work under the leadership of operational commander, Senior Inspector Linda Gantsho.Since their deployment, there have only been three cases of vandalism and theft from facilities, incurring damage of just over R70 000. Compare this with eight other cases of vandalism, with damage incurred at R800 000 for the same period last year. The FPOs have also made 13 arrests, has issued 479 fines and confiscated 2 200 counterfeit DVDs/CDs and even impounded a truck involved in illegal dumping.‘The statistics are all the motivation we need to expand this programme to other areas. Not only do we safeguard our facilities for the enjoyment of the communities they serve, but we also provide employment and an economic injection into these same communities. The facility protection officers also offer another layer of visible policing as their patrols and powers are not limited to the sports fields and libraries they are employed to protect,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security Alderman JP Smith.The City has dedicated a R20 million budget for the programme for this financial year for salaries, four weeks of training per recruit, equipment and vehicles. The number of staff will increase from the initial 58 to 224, comprising 64 auxiliary law enforcement officers as shift leaders and 160 facility wardens. The brief will also be expanded to include other City facilities like libraries and clinics.The initial deployment will be at 32 identified facilities in Mannenberg, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Philippi, Delft, Khayelitsha, Seawinds, Langa, Mitchells Plain, Uitsig, Atlantis, Wallacedene and Ocean View.“The continued success of this programme will rely heavily on the level of community involvement. Many communities would be all too familiar with a clinic, library or community centre being closed as a result of vandalism or theft, robbing them of crucial services. The culprits are seldom outsiders. “ We’re building safer communities while at the same time improving the economic fortunes of hundreds of people by providing work opportunities,’said Smith.