Enabling local government action to make communities safer
Title: Inclusive violence and crime prevention (VCP)
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: South Africa
Lead executing agency: Department of Cooperative Governance as chair of a national Steering Committee
Overall term: 2012 to 2019
People's mobility and quality of life, their participation in public life and in sustainable development greatly depend on their safety and freedom from violence and crime. The high level of violence in South Africa is one of the greatest obstacles to the country’s development. Although the situation has slightly improved over the past few years, the country still ranks high in comparison internationally. Extreme inequality, high unemployment, inadequate access to public services and a lack of prospects; particularly for young people, are key factors contributing to violence in society, alongside the legacy of socially and spatially segregated urban development that took place during apartheid.
The conditions for building safer communities with a specific focus on violence and crime prevention are improved at the local level, with support from national and provincial levels.
Violence prevention requires contributions from many different sectors, such as social development, youth social work, urban development, education and policing, and at all levels of government. Therefore, the inclusive violence and crime prevention project (VCP) follows an integrated, holistic and partner-centred approach to supporting violence and crime prevention efforts in South Africa. It works with the South African government on national, provincial and local levels as well as with relevant civil society actors, to enhance the implementation of South Africa’s safety policies at the local level. At the heart of the project lies the strengthening of capacities of local government and civil society; particularly in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng Provinces, with a focus on urban areas. The project works across three complementary areas of intervention:
- Closing the implementation gap: In line with the recommendations of the National Development Plan and the White Paper on Safety and Security, stronger vertical and horizontal cooperation between government levels and sector departments is supported in order to improve the implementation of policies on local level. Clarifying roles, functions and resource allocation arrangements between the three spheres of the government system is crucial in this regard.
- Collaborative thinking and action: The project develops and strengthens platforms for knowledge exchange, networking and cooperation within government as well as between government and non-governmental actors. Cooperation between actors at different levels (national, provincial and local) and sectors is promoted in order to strengthen an integrated approach to violence prevention. This is a central pillar of the White Paper on Safety and Security.
- Active youth for safer communities: The project strengthens youth-centred approaches and promotes the active involvement of young people in preventing violence. The focus is on two fields of action: School-based prevention programmes and youth volunteering for community safety.
The VCP project has introduced three new support measures targeted at the local government as part of the implementation of the national White Paper on Safety and Security: An induction training and a guide booklet for newly elected municipal councillors on their roles and responsibilities in community safety, an online tutorial for safety practitioners, and a provincial government-led training programme for municipal officials to develop and implement local participatory community safety plans. More than 350 officials were reached through the trainings in more than 34 municipalities. At the same time, intensive support is provided to 10 municipalities in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng provinces to develop high quality safety plans.
As part of policy advice, the topics of violence prevention and urban safety have been integrated into the national Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) and support has been provided to partners in metropolitan municipalities for pilot implementation of measures around safety in public open spaces. In addition, the VCP is supporting a peer learning and joint advocacy platform of cities on urban safety (Urban Safety Reference Group) hosted by the South African Cities Network.
The White Paper on Safety and Security advocates for an integrated approach to violence and crime prevention based on a solid knowledge and evidence-base as well as civil society partnerships. A core VCP measure in this regard is their Safer Spaces online portal, which is managed by the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service, along with an advisory group from government and civil society. The site is the principal national platform for knowledge exchange and showcasing of good practices in the sector of violence and crime prevention in the country. The number of users of the site from government institutions, NGOs and other stakeholders has increased steadily. Up to 2019, the site has built a community of practitioners of 264 registered users, who share their particular expertise on relevant topics such as gender-based violence, substance use, gangsterism and crime prevention through environmental design.
In partnership with the South African Police Service (SAPS) youth volunteering structures at police stations are provided with a skills development and youth activation training, capacitating them to become active agents of change in their neighbourhoods. Training has been provided to 140 young volunteers and more than 50 of their SAPS mentors at station level. This has led to 27 active Youth Crime Prevention Desks implementing prevention and awareness raising initiatives in their communities in Gauteng and Eastern Cape Provinces. Furthermore, through the Youth for Safer Communities Programme developed and implemented in partnership with the NGO, Masifunde Learner Development, more than 8,000 young people at 40 schools in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro have been enabled to play an active role in implementing violence prevention measures in their neighbourhoods.