The decision to block the Milnerton Community Policing Forum (CPF) from receiving crime trends in the area dominated discussions at the last Milnerton CPF meeting held on Tuesday May 3.
Two weeks ago CPF chairwoman Lianne Lippert was informed in a private meeting with Milnerton station commander Brigadier Marius Stander that the CPF would no longer be allowed to attend weekly meetings which the Milnerton police has with security companies in the area.
Ms Lippert said these meetings included discussions of crime trends in the area which she would relay to the various neighbourhood watches via email as well as share it on the CPF Facebook page.
“As the CPF we are here to promote transparency and to hold SAPS accountable for their actions. The key function of the CPF is joint problem-solving and working with the neighbourhood watches to fight crime. If we’re not allowed trend information how do we filter basic information to the neighbourhood watches?”
Ms Lippert said crime trends included a broad outline of what was happening in the area and did not include specifics such as dates or times. “It’s a basic overview of what happened and where it happened.”
At the meeting, held at the Milnerton police station in Koeberg Road, Brigadier Stander, along with two police advocates, told the thirty-odd people attending the meeting that “compartmentalisation of information” was important. “The information we sit with is very valuable to people out there who want to abuse it. I agree that neighbourhood watches can do nothing without information but if you can’t be trusted with information then sharing cannot happen,” said Brigadier Stander.
He questioned whether knowing what crime had already taken place in a specific street was really beneficial and said what was really important was knowing who could help the police solve the problem. He encouraged the chairpersons of the various neighbourhood watches to arrange a date and a time with him to discuss “individual issues” in their areas.
Sub-forum Sector 4 chairman Les Martch said at the moment there are some strong neighbourhood watches operating and that it has helped to alleviate the police’s workload in various ways. He pointed out that people volunteered their time to the neighbourhood watch and needed to know where hot spots were so they wouldn’t be wasting their time. “You can’t have a neighbourhood watch operating and not tell them anything and have them driving around willy-nilly,” said Mr Martch.
CPF exco member Mike Lippert asked how many representatives of neighbourhood watches were present at the meeting and counted six raised hands. When he asked these representatives to raise their hands if they felt they had “a proper partnership with SAPS” no one put up their hands. “Obviously there is a problem because no one feels they have a proper partnership with the police,” said Mr Lippert.
A few neighbourhood watch representatives also complained about the lack of police visibility in their areas.
Garry Jacobs from the Summer Greens Neighbourhood Watch said communication between constables and the neighbourhood watch is important. “If criminals see the neighbourhood watch is in contact with the police that’s visibility. It’s the kind of communication we want and need,” said Mr Jacobs.
Russel Capes, chairman of the Phoenix Neighbourhood Watch (PNW), said police visibility in Phoenix would strengthen the PNW. “The criminals don’t take us seriously but when they see a police van driving by they run away,” said Mr Capes.
On a lighter note, Ms Lippert was proud to announce that the Montague Gardens clean-up operations had yielded great results. Ms Lippert said it had taken Montague Gardens business owners, who were supported by law enforcement, Metro police, social development, solid waste, the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and the CPF, three years to get the area clean.
Some of the streets that were targeted by the clean-ups include Koeberg Road, Station Road, Stella Cove and Railway Road.
The next Milnerton CPF meeting will be on Tuesday June 6.