An analysis of WhatsApp as a tool for crime prevention in KwaZulu-Natal.
Du Plessis, Jodie.
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Violent crime levels are on the rise on South Africa; however, the advent of the Internet, and the subsequent advancement of social media, has drastically changed the way in which community members can get involved in community crime prevention efforts. It is evident that the use of WhatsApp for crime prevention purposes by communities is a new trend in crime prevention; however, there is a limited body of scientific information that illuminates this phenomenon. Therefore, the aim of this research is thus to determine which WhatsApp practices could be regarded as the most effective for use by communities to enhance community-based crime prevention efforts in the area of study. It is argued that this information could inform a set of guidelines for the use of WhatsApp in crime prevention that could be utilised by the various communities in the area of study, and even beyond the demographic borders of the Highway Area. The findings of this study show that WhatsApp is attractive for crime prevention purposes because it has improved the way in which communities can communicate with a broader audience in a much quicker fashion than before. This enhances crime response rates and curbs further instances of crime. The findings of this study also highlighted areas in which WhatsApp use can be carefully regulated to ensure its most effective and lawful use in crime prevention. This research was conducted in the Highway Area in KwaZulu-Natal. In this area, communities are increasingly using WhatsApp for crime prevention purposes, and role-players (e.g. the SAPS, private security companies, emergency services etc.) operating in this area are becoming more active on community-driven WhatsApp groups in order to assist with resources for crime prevention and responses to emergency situations.