Enabling local government action to make communities safer
Title: Inclusive violence and crime prevention (VCP)
Commissioned by: German 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 2021
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. 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 framework conditions for implementing South Africa’s national policy on violence prevention (as specified in the White Paper on Safety and Security) are improved.
Violence prevention requires contributions from many different sectors (e.g. social development, youth social work, urban development, education and policing) and all levels of government. Therefore, the Inclusive violence and crime prevention (VCP) project 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 youth volunteer programmes, to drive local prevention initiatives. The project works across two complementary areas of intervention:
- Addressing system-level requirements for the effective implementation of the national White Paper on Safety and Security: As expressed in the White Paper, these requirements include developing the business case for establishing a National Centre for Violence and Crime Prevention that will coordinate a coherent, national response to violence and crime prevention; aligning the White Paper with other relevant policies, such as the Integrated Urban Development Framework and the National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence and Femicide; developing models for sustainable public financing of violence prevention measures; supporting generating the evidence-base for cost-effective violence prevention measures, and institutionalising digital tools for knowledge dissemination and guidance.
- Institutionalising and upscaling selected violence prevention measures: The project aims to secure the long-term sustainability and support the national roll-out of two violence prevention measures that have been at the core of the project in the previous commission, namely: 1) Developing municipal capacities for preparing and implementing evidence-based local community safety plans, through multi-stakeholder participatory processes; and 2) The development of young leaders as part of in- and out-of-school youth volunteer structures as a means to activate the power of young people as positive changemakers for safer communities. The project works specifically with the Youth Crime Prevention Desks and Junior Commissioners Project of the South African Police Service.
The VCP project has introduced new support measures targeted at 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 hosted through the South African Local Government Association and a training programme for municipal officials and councillors to prepare and implement local participatory community safety plans. More than 340 officials and councillors were reached through the trainings in more than 34 municipalities. At the same time, intensive support has been provided to 10 municipalities in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng provinces to develop exemplary safety plans.
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 the SaferSpaces 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 285 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), community-based youth crime prevention volunteer structures are provided with skills development and youth activation training, capacitating them to become active agents of change in their communities. Training has been provided to 120 young volunteers and more than 60 of their SAPS mentors at station level. As a result, 27 Youth Crime Prevention Desks are actively implementing prevention and awareness-raising initiatives in their communities in Gauteng and Eastern Cape Provinces. All participants were selected on a 50 per cent gender balance while gender responsiveness is included in all VCP youth trainings.