Compiled by Kotie Geldenhuys
Crime is a global challenge that threatens safety and security within communities, and the peace and stability of the country. As crime compromises the quality of life of ordinary citizens, there is a need for a joint approach by the police and communities. The police have a constitutional mandate to fight crime and ensure the safety and security of the citizens of the country. But, due to the high crime rates that South Africa is experiencing, the SAPS is no longer in a position to combat crime on its own. One of the ways in which the lives of ordinary citizens can be improved is to become involved as communities as active partners in the fight against crime. This means that the fight against crime will be more successful when there is cooperation between the police, communities and other role-players. These include other law enforcement agencies such as the Metro Police Departments and traffic officials, as well as private security companies and local businesses. There is an urgent need for all role-players to form a united front against crime in an attempt to restore law and order in the country.
Globally, community partnerships in policing have been effectively implemented in countries such as the United Kingdom (UK), Australia and The Netherlands. There is no single partnership in policing model that fits all policing environments and policing strategies need to be tailor-made for specific conditions. Police agencies rely on institutional and civil society partners to assist them in dealing with crime as they have come to realise that they are unable to deal with crime without the involvement of the community (Mabunda, 2014). Community policing is a philosophy aimed at achieving more effective crime control, reducing fears of crime, and improved police services through proactive partnerships and programmes with communities. In short, community policing is a partnership between the police and the community to address safety problems (Nkosi-Malobane, 2018).
In an attempt to address the issue of crime in South Africa, the legislature envisaged that Community Police Forums (CPFs) be established at all the police stations in the country to help the police and the community to work jointly to fight crime. CPFs are established in terms of section 19(1) of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Act 68 of 1995 and aim to ensure police accountability, transparency and effectiveness in the community. Another aim of such forums was to bridge the gap between the police and the community and build a harmonious relationship between these groups. A CPF should consist of a group of people from the police and different sectors and interest groups in the community that meet regularly to discuss problems emanating from their communities. Section 4 of the Regulations for Community Policing Forums and Boards in terms of the SAPS Act 68 of 1995 outlines the responsibilities of the CPF as follows:
- Advising the SAPS regarding local policing priorities;
- facilitating the resolving of concerns, problems and complaints from community members regarding policing;
- harmonising the relationships between the police and the community;
- requesting the station commander to provide information about policing in the area on a quarterly basis;
- obtaining regular feedback from the community about the quality of police service delivery;
- initiating community-based crime prevention projects;
- informing the community about the activities of the CPF and engaging them in these activities; and
- ensuring the effective management of the CPF’s resources.
CPFs are constituted to improve communication between the SAPS and the community, to foster joint problem-solving and cooperation with a view to improving service delivery by the SAPS.