University of KwaZulu-Natal criminology lecturer, Dr Siyanda Dlamini, graduated with a PhD in Criminology and Forensic Studies for his research into crime and community policing, focusing on community police forums.
Dlamini researched the role of community policing forums and their challenges. He focused on two Durban suburbs, Glenwood and Cato Manor. The aim was to gain a qualitative understanding of its challenges in order to find ways in which community policing as an enviable crime prevention strategy can be improved to make communities safer.
‘Crime continues to be a serious problem in South Africa, which has been ranked third on the global crime index as at 2016. The impact of crime on the safety and security of communities, peace and stability in the country as well as the country’s reputation to potential international tourists and investors, need no emphasis. Crime solutions that work, and are cost effective remain elusive,’ said Dlamini.
According to Dlamini, community policing was a standard ideological and policy model guiding mission statements, goals, and reform programmes of most policing agencies across the world. This was after its success in reducing crime rates in different parts of the world since its introduction in the United States of America during the 1970s.
‘More than 20 years into democracy, the question beckons whether community policing, in particular, community policing forums is an effective strategy within South African communities to combat and prevent crime,’ he added.
Information collected from South African Police Service (SAPS), CPF representatives, political leaders and ordinary members of the two communities suggest limited knowledge of and affinity to CPFs by community members.
‘This owes partly to lack of communication, resources, trust, as well as political interference and SAPS organisational culture, which affect the functioning of these CPFs. A comparative analysis between the two areas noted differences in participation by the youth, police, and community members as well as their remuneration. Together, these findings suggest that more effort is needed from both the community and the police for an effective functioning of the CPFs,’ said Dlamini. While Dlamini’s findings may be limited to the two areas, they indicate that an effective implementation of CPFs in resource-constrained and relatively affluent areas in South Africa demands more attention. ‘There is no doubt that this insight could be usefully adapted to maximize CPFs in a related context in and beyond South Africa,’ he said.
The findings demonstrate that if the fight against crime is to have any meaning, it is essential that community policing, especially CPFs be thoroughly understood. ‘This is particularly important in the South African context because community policing without a clear focus on crime risk factors generally has no effect on crime. These risk factors include the so-called “root causes” of crime.
Dlamini claims that understanding community policing outside cultural contexts as the other important area that warrants further inquiry to address challenges of CPFs that compromise effective crime prevention.