Crime Prevention Projects
Due to the levels of crime that exist in South Africa, there is a preoccupation in many communities with ways in which crime can be prevented. It is increasingly being accepted that communities have a vital role to play in crime prevention.
The National Crime Prevention Strategy, which was adopted by the South African government in 1996, emphasises the importance of the co-operation of all role players in crime prevention. It states that members of the community can participate in crime prevention initiatives through various objectives, including the promotion of a shared understanding and common vision of how South Africa is going to tackle crime.
Community based crime prevention initiatives such as neighbourhood, business and farm watch projects can be useful in preventing crimes such as robbery, pick-pocketing, burglary, property crimes and car theft. Such projects rely on the belief that crime may be prevented if potential offenders believe that there is a high risk of being caught in specific communities.
Social crime prevention projects, which may also be organised by communities, focus on the importance of socioeconomic structures such as families, schools, churches, recreational facilities and jobs, in the prevention of crime. Such projects are concerned particularly with the young, the old, the poor and the unemployed to reduce the risk of lapsing into crime or becoming victims.
Social crime prevention hinges on the ability to predict when, where and by whom crime is going to be committed. This requires the development of a tool to ‘forecast’ crime which is often concentrated in terms of victim, perpetrator, environment and time. For example, research indicates that 5% to 10% of youth perpetrators commit 50% to 70% of crimes while 10% of public spaces such as shebeens and taxi ranks account for some 60% of crime scenes.
Social crime prevention projects include housing initiatives, policy centred on job provision, an educational policy that focuses on the youth, programmes that foster responsibility in the youth and drug and alcohol abuse policy.
The success of social crime prevention initiatives depends on long-term programmes. However, social crime prevention is often disregarded as a practical strategy. Where projects are initiated there is often little or no evaluation. In addition, such evaluation is often hampered by the long-term nature of the projects as crime prevention methods.
IPT has been involved with a number of crime prevention initiatives since our early work with the South African Police Service and with our school safety initiatives. This has resulted in numerous publications as well as an email-based Crime Prevention Discussion List.
For further information please contact Val