Crime and safety tops the lists of concerns in a neighbourhood. And while government and municipalities have various law enforcement and policing measures in place to ensure citizens’ safety, crime can only effectively be combated when communities and the police work together.
This belief underpins the National Crime Prevention Strategy , which states that effective policing has to ensure mobilisation and participation of ordinary residents in addressing crime.
“The rights and freedoms which the constitution entrenches are threatened every time a citizen becomes a victim of crime…To effectively reduce crime, it is necessary to transform and reorganise government and facilitate real community participation.”
Community Policing Forums were introduced in the South African Policing Services Act in 1995 to facilitate the partnership between communities and the police.
Here are five things you need to know about CPFs:
- All policing precincts have to establish a CPF.
According to the constitution, each and every police station has to have a CPF. Each police station receives national resources according to the needs of the communities they serve. In order to correctly represent the needs of a community, the police have to have regular meetings with residents to set the agenda for crime prevention and policing in an area.
Effective police stations have good relationships with the community, that engage in social crime prevention such as drugs and child abuse. This is where the CPF comes in, they act as the vehicle to drive this collaboration
- The CPF is your direct channel to the police.
A CPF is the only recognised forum designed to allow communities to make their safety and security concerns known to the police and a platform to hold the police accountable.
The CPF is essentially the “voice of the people” when it come to safety. They are also responsible for relaying any information from the police to the community.
- Any resident can be a part of the CPF.
The CPF is open to any and all residents interested in improving safety in their neighbourhood. Each CPF is further broken down to sub-forums that cater for specific areas.
Residents, members of local organisations, business owners, community leaders and other interest groups are free to join CPFs or sub-forums and attend their meetings.
And while CPFs are a SAPS mandated body, they have to be objective and completely independent from any political, religious or organisational affiliations.
- CPFs are official, legislated bodies prescribed by the national government.
Every CPF has an executive committee made up of community members with an elected chairperson. Each sub-forum under the CPF also has an executive committee with an elected chairperson.
CPFs have their own constitutions outlining their framework that should be publically available.
They are also mandated to hold regular, minuted public meetings. All documents, meeting minutes and projects have to be made publicly available to the public.
- CPFs play a crucial role in crime prevention.
CPFs are responsible for ensuring that the police are rendering services to the community at national, provincial and local levels. They have to make sure that the police are effectively responding to the needs of the community and that residents feel safe at all times.
They promote problem identification, which guides the police on which areas and issues to focus resources on.
Our Constitution gives all South Africans the right to enjoy an accountable, effective and a service oriented Criminal Justice System. CPFs are just one way of taking ownership of that right.
Crime and safety is a community effort.
Get involved in your CPF and help fight crime in your neighbourhood. Visit your police station and ask about your local CPF.
Active neighbours are active citizens.
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