Neighbourhood Safety Initiative - Preamble
“Die bendes maak dit baie moeilik om hier te leef. Ek het hier grootgeword. Toe ek ‘n kind was, het die skole ons besig gehou met goed soos sport en houtwerk, maar my kinders ken dit nie. Hulle kan nie na skool bly nie, dis te gevaarlik met die bendes in die strate …. [Die politieke partye] moet ophou om wonderlike beloftes te maak wat ons weet hulle nie kan nakom nie. Hulle moet kyk na die kleiner dinge wat saak maak, soos die gemors in ons strate.”
“The gangs make it very difficult to live here. I grew up here. When I was a child, the schools kept us busy with things like sport and woodwork, but my children know nothing of that. They can’t stay on after school, it’s too dangerous with the gangs in the streets … [The political parties] must stop making wonderful promises that we know they can’t keep. They must look at the small things that matter, like the mess in our streets.”
Resident of Bonteheuwel, Cape Town, in Rapport, 20 January 2019.
Policing (effective, visible, professional and publicly accountable) is an essential element in creating and maintaining safety and a sense of safety in any given neighbourhood.
But safety is more than the absence of harm (just as peace is more than the absence of war), and law enforcement, however effective, is not able to deal with potentially disruptive socio-economic issues at neighbourhood level (such as absent fathers, dependency on alcohol, heroin or other drugs, teenage pregnancy, school dropouts, etc.).
In order to build and maintain real and lasting safety, therefore, law enforcement must be complemented, on equal terms, by an approach to neighbourhood policing and safety-building that is locally focused, problem-solving and future-oriented. This may be referred to as ‘placemaking for public safety’.
In this context we think of a ‘neighbourhood’ as an informally demarcated area that can realistically be covered on foot or bicycle and forms a reasonably consistent whole with respect to its typical problems of safety and liveability. It may take many different forms, such as, for example, a small village, a high-rise apartment building or several blocks of houses, shops, sports fields and other amenities.