Saturday, May 18, 2024

FIRST WITH SECURITY NEWS

City of Cape Town trials civil society intelligence grapevine to fight crime

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The City of Cape Town has established a WhatsApp line for neighbourhood watches to help law enforcement fight crime.

The dry run took place on 11 May to test the system.

Two representatives per neighbourhood watch are permitted to join the WhatsApp group to communicate information to police as part of its response planning and execution.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security, Alderman JP Smith said community structures like neighbourhood watches are very often first responders, but also have an ear to the ground in their communities – making them valuable partners in the intelligence sharing space during times of crisis.

“So if, for example, we start hearing chatter about a protest or flooding or any other public safety risk, the organisations on our dedicated WhatsApp channel can easily help verify or confirm information, but more importantly, the platform will give them a direct line to our Joint Operations Centre. Other benefits are that we can cut through the noise far more easily, and more importantly, we are able to direct resources appropriately, and speedily.

On the day of the trial, there were scenarios in five areas – protest action in Hout Bay, Costa Da Gama (Muizenberg) and Sir Lowry’s Pass Village; as well as the escorting of food trucks in Strand, and a missing person in the Milnerton area.

‘This concept is very simple, but potentially incredibly valuable. The more credible information is available, the easier it is to plan, or respond, and who better to be involved than our safety partners at community level. This dry run will go a long way in helping to formalise this practice, and building it into our standard operating procedures going forward,’ added Smith.

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