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Crime solutions emerge at safer city seminar
Working together and using technology to advance the fight against crime was a common theme that ran through a consultative safer city seminar held on 21 February at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
 
The seminar, aimed at eradicating spaces where criminals operate, was informed by the global sustainable development agenda in the form of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that draws the attention of the world to safety issues. They also echo the call to local government, working together with strategic partners, to fully exercise its complementary role of promoting safety.
 
Welcoming delegates, eThekwini Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer said: “Cities have observed increased levels of crime due to rapid urbanisation. Communities live in fear and policing in twenty first century needs vigorous conversation to fix fractures that impact on safety. Through this seminar we are confident that global participants will provide insight into lessons that helped them become more efficient. Drawing on expertise from locally and abroad, I call for comprehensive collective actions from all stakeholders to get rid of this scourge of crime that is affecting every facet of society. For a city to succeed, it is of paramount importance that crime is tackled head on. The alleviation of crime and making our communities safe is a top priority for the City.”
 
Noluthando Magewu, Acting Deputy City Manager for the Community and Emergency Services cluster, commented that the complexity of crime had developed over years and the law is one step behind. “Our strategies need to be more preventative, proactive and smarter using technology to advance a safe city.
Key speaker, Sean Michael Smoot, of Chicago USA, using the Boston terrorist attack and other case studies, said building trust between law enforcement agencies and the public is essential to stabilise communities.
 
The use of technology was also a hot topic of the day as case studies demonstrated how mobile devices and applications can be used to improve effectiveness of the police by using data, analysis and algorythms.
 
Parboo Sewpersad, Metro Police Spokesman said he was excited by the possiblities of improving policing by using technology. “The use of technology could revolutionise the operations of Metro Police Unit. Metro Police already work with community paltforms and other stakeholders, but there is always room for imporvement and a closer working relationship.”
 
Acting Head of the Safer Cities Unit, Bongumusa Zondo said: “Cities are engines of growth and development. For this reason research has found that most people are moving to cities with hope that their lives will change for good. As more people move to cities, the pressure is mounting for city leadership and administration to ensure that all people are safe and feel safe in both private abd public spaces. This calls for integrated and comprehensive programmes which are developed through active participation of all relevant stakeholders, such as organised civil society, organised business, academia and government through an all-of-society approach.”
 
He further added: “The said integrated and comprehensive approach should be based on undertanding local needs for law enforcement, situational crime prevention and social crime prevention. Through such an approach government accepts that the co-production of safety is a collective responsibility, strategic programme and foundation for successful communities, increased investor confidence and fullfiling lives where communities enjoy services and are continuously engaged.”
 
“Yesteryear policing approaches could no longer allow for effective policing in the context of shrinking resources and competing development needs. The twenty first century police service needs to be fully equiped with relevant skills and qualities to engage with communities and develop suitable level of trust while fully equipped with relevent tools to allow him or her to exercise duties at ease while collaborating with other officers with the safety and security space.”
 
Going forward, the City will identify an area within which to conduct a pilot project, document learnings and then propose the implementation of the project throughout the region.
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