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Neighbourhood Safety

Neighbourhood Safety Resources for creating safer communities:
The City of Cape Town’s Metro Police Department launched its Neighbourhood Safety Officer programme (with the support of the Centre of Criminology at UCT) in 2008. The initiative is based on international best thinking in neighbourhood policing/problem-orientated policing and was taken up in the City's Integrated Development Plan as a priority programme. It entails the deployment of dedicated and specially trained Metro Police members in specific “neighbourhoods”.
Another programme based on similar principles is the School Resource Officer programme, which is run by Law Enforcement and is at present operating in forty schools.
At the law-enforcement end of the spectrum within the City's policing service are the Gang and Drugs Task Team,  and the Stabilisation Unit (a contingent of auxiliary officers recruited from local communities), while other specialised units (Problem Buildings, Liquor, Metal Theft, Graffiti, etc) are on call.
Even with these programmes in place, the City's policing is facing two problems:
  • the services are small, and a policy of 'coverage' through patrolling and visibility is simply not working;
  • all the above units and programmes are working reasonably well in themselves, but there is minimal synergy or integration in practice.
The challenge therefore is to find the most effective possible way of using the limited  resources available. Using a neighbourhood-based 'whole-of-society' approach.
The aim is to build a culture and a set of templates and practices as a model for locally based integrated policing, especially in resource-poor communities. 

The Neighbourhood Safety Handbook: A Handbook of Policy and Practice

1. Preamble         

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... Read more >>

2. Principles and priorities

There are a few simple and practical principles guiding this approach to creating safety:

  1. Focus on the future, not the past.
  2. Focus on opportunities.
  3. Think issue-based partnership (‘whole-of-society’).
  4. Different problems and opportunities require different solutions.


3. Tested practices in creating safety

Using the foundation of the design principles for placemaking that we have articulated above, we propose several forms of practice that, if implemented consistently, will lead to less violence and disorder and greater peace, safety and stability in any given neighbourhood.

What all these forms of practice have in common is that they help to create spaces and opportunities for people to think freshly about what they are capable of and develop innovative and effective plans of action.

  1. Neighbourhood Safety Officers
  2. School Resource Officers
  3. Focus Tables
  4. Neighbourhood Safety Teams

If you would like assistance from John Cartwright in applying these principles to particular contexts and circumstances, please contact Elaine Atkins at

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