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Partnership between the police and community is vital to crime prevention, and we must each do our bit, writes Yusuf Abramjee.
Johannesburg - I recently returned from the annual Crime Stoppers International (CSI) conference which was held in Barbados with invigorated faith in the role that tip-offs are playing in the fight against crime globally.
Heavyweight speakers from CNN’s Freedom Project, Unicef and Interpol were unanimous about the success information from the public was having in assisting law enforcement in effectively tackling crime.
The common thread in crime stoppers programmes from around the world are public/private partnerships. These partnerships are effectively breaking down the barriers between the public, the police and the media.
In fact, it is thanks to CSI and its programmes that a crime is solved every 14 minutes somewhere in the world.
The power is, indeed, in the hands of the people.
Back home, Crime Line and Crime Stop show the strength of these public/private partnerships. Crime Line has become a safe and effective tool for people to send tip-offs to the police without revealing their identity.
It is not without challenges. Public confidence in the SAPS is at an all-time low.
This can largely be attributed to the high level of corruption in the police and to poor service.
Not to mention that many police stations either lack resources or the will to serve their respective communities.
That is why we need to strengthen these partnerships more than ever.
Crime is not going to go away.
Despite our misgivings as communities about our police, only we have the democratic power to hold them to account.
Sending a tip-off to law-enforcement agencies does not mean that you are doing the job for the police, it rather means that you are taking responsibility for your community.
This week four children met a tragic end in Diepsloot and Katlehong.
We are clearly beyond allocating the blame and more than ever we owe it to our children to play our part, while demanding that the police get their house in order.
This is the time for active citizenship. Somewhere, someone, somehow knows something about a crime.
The police will launch their festive season anti-crime campaign, When Duty Calls, in George, Western Cape, next week. It needs the support of every citizen.
I recently addressed the International Association of Women Police Officers (IAWP) conference in Durban. I stressed the importance of partnerships at all levels.
As much as we point fingers, we must all hold hands. National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega and the police force need the support of the community. The police alone cannot fight crime.
In the global community, we are regarded with respect in terms of our local crime stoppers programmes and our expertise, but we are also seen as a violent and crime-ridden country.
As the host of the CSI conference in 2014, we were often asked in Barbados whether it was safe.
I think we are the only host in the history of the conference that has to present a comprehensive plan on safety and security ahead of next year’s conference in Cape Town.
We have earned this reputation.
But all is not doom and gloom. I was also reminded why we are seen as a resilient people that have overcome great odds in the past.
We can do it again.
We have to.
* Yusuf Abramjee is head of Crime Line and second vice-president of Crime Stoppers International (CSI). He is also a LeadSA activist.
** The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Independent Newspapers
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