Partnership building in public policing: communities’ perceptions towards the role of community policing forums in crime prevention in Mthatha (Eastern Cape)
Mlomo, Patricia Noma.
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Conducted in Fortgale and Southernwood (Mthatha, Eastern Cape), the primary aim of the present study has been fostered by an exploratory-descriptive analysis of the respondents’ perceptions of the Community Policing Forums, in particular. The study seeks to statistically ascertain whether the Community Policing Forum initiative is an ideal partnership building technique for crime prevention in Fortgale and Southernwood. The research further seeks to establish the nature and extent of community participation in the Community Policing Forum meetings. Also imperative is the need to identify the nature and extent of the most salient problems or barriers between the communities and the public regarding Community Policing Forum and crime prevention. It is also incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain the respondents’ degree of understanding of the meanings of the following concepts; community policing and community police forums as logical foundations for a democratic approach to policing in South Africa. Generally, community policing should manifest itself through a major paradigm shift from centralised police departments that practise reactive policing, to more decentralised police structures that emphasise a proactive and problem-solving approach where the police work in close partnership with the communities they serve. This contemporary approach has four clear functions, namely: (a) the public advising the police about their immediate problems and needs, (b) the police educating the public about crime and disorder, (c) the ventilation of grievances by both ‘sides’ and (d) the provision of feed-back by the police about their successes. According to Sutherland (1950), criminal behaviour is acquired through interacting with criminals. Research indicates that a routine activity and the changes in activity patterns often create an opportunity for the commission of crime or increase the risk of direct-contact and predatory violation because it brings together three elements, namely: a motivated offender, a suitable target and the absence of a competent guardian at a given place and time (Cohen and Felson,1979). Anomie is a concept developed by Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) to describe an absence of clear societal norms and values. The researcher used a mixed-method approach, comprising the pre-experimental design (one short case study) and the non-probability sampling. The sample size comprises 300 respondents and 150 respondents were recruited from each one of the two areas of study. The findings revealed that the Community Policing Forum is an ideal tool for crime prevention and its effectiveness is quite apparent; and evident from the findings is that the public from both areas is well educated about community policing. Furthermore, the present study is further poised for the creation of a sustainable partnership between the police and the public in both Fortgale and Southernwood, which are the two areas of investigation.