CPFs back City’s ‘takeover’ of neighbourhood watches

JP Smith

Kraaifontein, Brackenfell and Kuils River community police forums have rallied behind what they say is a City plan to take over neighbourhood watches.

While safety and security mayoral committee member JP Smith denies such plan exists, Kuils River CPF spokesman Winston Davids claims it has been in the works “for the longest time now” and that the the forum has received a letter from the Department of Community Safety about it.

He didn’t want to give Northern News a copy of the letter, though, before the issue had been discussed in greater detail with the department.

Earlier this year, Mr Smith appeared to hint that something like this was in offing when he mentioned at a policing needs consultation workshop that the City would give the smartphones and advanced training to the neighbourhood watches (“Neighbourhood watch swops phones for radios,” Northern News, July 6 2016).

Mr Davids warned that there could be resistance from the CPFs as some could see this as a way of stripping them of powers.

Currently, neighbourhood watches still report to the CPFs. However, talks had been ongoing from last year, and the plans had been discussed again at the consultation in July, Mr Davids claimed.

“I believe they’re drafting papers to finalise everything,” he said.

They had been told by the Department of Community Safety and the City that a CPF was a police oversight mechanism and that this function did not extend to neighbourhood watches.

“I support the move because at the end of the day, the CPFs can’t support neighbourhood watches with what the City has put on the table.

“This move will mean less stress for us,” Mr Davids said.

He said even though he did not speak for everyone in the CPFs, they could agree that the move would give them more time with police oversight.

Giovanni Pasquallie, Kraaifontein CPF spokesman, said the CPFs “have limited powers as it is”. So, filtering that down to the neighbourhood would weaken the neighbourhood structures.

He branded CPFs “powerless organisations” and said he supported City training for
neighbourhood watches.

Mr Pasquallie said he felt a City takeover of the watches would mean jobs for Kraaifontein residents. Instead of using security firms to guard schools over the holidays, the City could train neighbourhood watch members under theExpanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to do that job.

He said cooperation between the SAPS and CPFs was “poor”. While Brackenfell CPF chairman Sean McCleland supported a City takeover of the watches, he felt its Broken Window training programme was flawed and did not meet SAPS guidelines.

“It’s a good thing that they recognise neighbourhood watches, but doing it in right terms is important,” he said.

Mr Smith, however, denied that the City had taken over neighbourhood watches in the metro. The City was merely providing them with supplementary training.

In response to Mr McCleland’s comments, he said the City provided short training sessions on “community-centred crime prevention methodologies”, which he said were not meant to replace police guidelines.

It merely supplements the existing training and is aimed at strengthening neighbourhood watches’ crime prevention capacity.

“The training that we offer is not neighbourhood watch training per se. We offer it to any community grouping wishing to enhance their crime prevention capacity,” Mr Smith said.
He said said the directorate had issued more than 400 radios to neighbourhood watches across the city this year and they had
access to the Metro police control room.

“And they will be able to share information amongst themselves as well as the City’s policing departments.

“Better communication will definitely strengthen the crime prevention capacity,” he said.
Ewald Botha, spokesman for Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, said he had no knowledge of
a takeover, but asked to be sent questions.

By the time this edition went to print, he had not responded.