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Facilitation between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Community Police Forums (CPF)

Over the last five years the South African Police Service (SAPS) have undergone, and continue to experience, the challenging and difficult process of transformation from a police "force" to a "service". This transformation has not been without problems, including a lack of funds, poor internal co ordination and communication, decreasing morale and the amalgamation of 11 seperate police forces. Added to this was the assimilation of previous MK cadres the Self Protection Units (SPU's) and Self Defence Units (SDU's) as well as "kits" constables and reservists.

Throughout South Africa problems with policing have been exacerbated by the poor public image of the police which results from previous problems with apartheid policy and its brutal implementation and is reinforced by the current increase in crime within the country. The result has been a tendency to "blame crime and violence on the police rather than adopting a broader understanding of the whole problem". This distrust has fuelled both vigilantism and the privatisation of justice with an increase in private security, kangeroo courts, and other extra-judicial responses to crime.

Possibly one of the most serious consequences of weak public confidence in the police is the drop in both police morale and the inclination to provide excellence in service. The situation in South Africa is critical and the lack of a culture of training and lifelong learning in the police service is contributing to the problems of an organisation which is demotivated and fragmented.

As a result of this the relationship between police and community is often fraught with difficulty and so a significant portion of the IPT's work has been in the area of facilitating dialogue between Communities and SAPS in the area of Community Police Forums. This process starts with training of the individual groupings in order to establish common ground-rules for dialogue and a common understanding of conflict resolution and problem solving processes.

This is followed by the facilitation of joint sessions which aim to build trust and eventually lead to the establishment of joint structures for the facilitation of common developmental solutions.

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