The City of Cape Town’s Metro Police Social Crime Prevention Section will soon implement its ‘Prevention in Action’ programme in two pilot areas. The initiative forms part of the City’s commitment to building a Caring and Safe City, and aims to mobilise communities to engage in initiatives that promote preventative action on domestic violence.
The programme is the result of a four year development project with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Project Concern International and the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal Networks on Violence against Women in partnership with other stakeholders. The programme has been operational in other areas where it has been working successfully for the last four years.
The programme will be piloted in Bonteheuwel and Temperance Town next to Gordon’s Bay and opposite Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. The project will run from 22 October until December 2012. After the pilot has been concluded, the Department will examine future expansion prospects to other areas.
According to Deputy Chief, Yolanda Faro, experts in the field of gender-related violence all concur that there is no ‘quick fix’ in terms of minimising domestic violence.
“Enforcing the Domestic Violence Act will not necessarily reduce domestic violence related crimes – the key is changing the mind set and the behaviour of the community towards domestic violence,” says Faro.
“The buy-in of communities to reduce domestic violence is vital and their understanding that domestic violence is not a “private matter, but a public matter” is essential if we are to change attitudes and behaviours. This is the foundation to minimising domestic violence related crimes. This programme demonstrates that the City’s Metro Police officers do not only focus on crime once it has happened, but more importantly on trying to find ways to stop crime before it starts,” says Alderman J.P. Smith, Mayoral Committee Member: Safety and Security
The programme will review the referral systems in the two pilot areas and identify the gaps in the community in terms of service providers and NGOs. The programme will ensure that the Metro Police comprehensively complies with its legislative obligations in terms of dealing with domestic violence complaints.
Metro Police will choose a group of six to ten officers to act as ‘Community Engagers’ who will be tasked with identifying role-models that will mobilise the community members to become ‘Community Influencers’. Those identified by the officers will engage with 1500 to 3 000 community members, as well as offer residents affected by domestic violence the necessary support.
“The trained participants will form a ‘Prevention in Action Committee’ and will work together with their communities to prevent violence against women. The Committee will identify a smaller geographical area within their pilot area,” Faro concludes.