Formal recognition for neighbourhood watches
This month the Knysna police held a public meeting with sector 1 residents regarding policing matters, community police partnerships and other factors affecting the policing area in the Upper Town sector.
The meeting took place on 17 October at the Russel Hotel and included the Knysna police, CPF and provincial department of community safety.
The main focus of the meeting was discussing the process to be followed regarding neighbourhood watch accreditation, and the Western Cape department of community safety’s deputy director: neighbourhood watch project Ayesha Fortune was on hand to explain the procedure and benefits of such an accreditation.
As residents are aware, neighbourhood watches have become more prevalent over the last few years.
Before Fortune continued, Knysna CPF chair Cheryl Britz described the Upper Town neighbourhood watch as a group with a big heart. She added that although there have been some challenges with accreditation of all neighbourhood watches in Knysna, the CPF and police are currently busy with the process.
Fortune said the accreditation of neighbourhood watch structures forms part of the Western Cape Community Safety Act, Section 6, but added that it is not compulsory, although there are advantages to the accreditation.
“It allows the specified neighbourhood watch to be formally recognised, it assists with the regulation of such groups, ensures functionality, and allows for accurate records to be kept by the department,” she said, adding that it also encourages cooperation between the community and the police.
Fortune said that after the proper accreditation procedure has been followed and the proper forms have been filled in, accreditation is valid for two years.
Among the requirements for accreditation is fingerprint screening of all patrollers, identifying the area of operation and also the mode of communication used by the watch. “The process takes about three months after all forms have been received. At present there are already 153 accredited watches across the province,” said Fortune.
Among the advantages of accreditation is that basic training is offered by the community safety department. This includes accredited first-aid level 1 and basic firefighting training.