Youth Safety and Religion Programme: Department of Community Safety briefing

Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport (WCPP)

12 September 2018
Chairperson: Mr M Wiley (DA)
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Meeting Summary

The Standing Committee on Community Safety was briefed by a delegation from the Bavarian Police force from Germany, and the Provincial Department of Community Safety.

The representatives of the Bavarian police presented their approach to policing with the focus being on trust as an essential for successful policing. It was established that communication and de-escalation skills of police officers were crucial to gain trust and these skills were acquired through strict basic and further training. It was explained that target orientated cooperation with the different stakeholders was fundamental and successful enforcement of the law was the best way to gain the trust of citizens. Gaining the trust of the people was a long term and never-ending strategy.

The Members welcomed the presentation from the sister province Bavaria and found it to be quite insightful. Though the socio-economic status of the two countries was vastly different there were a lot of strategies that could be employed in South Africa. The Members agreed with the notion that trust was crucial. A Member asked how the police profession became such an attractive field of work for the youth in Germany. It was also asked how socio-economic factors affected behaviour and personal development.

The Youth, Safety and Religious Programme had been developed as a way to keep children and youth off the streets and busy during holiday periods in South Africa, with particular focus on areas with high crimes rates. Over the past six years since its initial piloting till now a little under R23 million has been invested in it. During the current financial year, of the R2.3 million that has been invested thus far, R2 million was dedicated to areas with the highest crime rates. The crimes that were of focus here were murder and gang activity. The project has been successful in attaining its goals and about 108 446 learners have been reach in total since its commencement. There was room for improvement but the Department was proud of the success it has had thus far.

The Members all sought more information on the content of the programmes and wanted to know what skills were being developed by it. A Member asked if there was a chance for ex-gang members who had been successfully converted into a life of religious faith had the opportunity to be involved with this programme. There was also a testimony given from a service provider guest attending the meeting.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks

The Chairperson welcomed the representatives of the Bavarian Police, Mr Bernhard Egger and Mr Peter Breitner. The Western Cape Provincial Department on Community Safety has a close relationship with Bavaria and there had been a committee visit to the province last year which the Members had found to be quite an eye-opener. This current visit coincides with the release of the National Crime Statistics.

The statistics released (on the 11th of September) would be considered a disaster for both the country and the province by any citizen. Irrespective of one’s political persuasion these statistics were unacceptable and a grave threat to not only ordinary citizens but to the fundamentals of an ordinary constitutional state. Tragically, South Africa was a country where visitors enjoy great beauty and hospitality in perfect safety in one area but just a few kilometres away, fear and criminality – often leading to death – was a part of daily life. Every tool available must be used to combat the scourge and crime analysis was one of these tools.

Mr Egger thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to present to the Standing Committee.

“Trust” as a Basic Element for Professional Policing: a briefing by the Bavarian Police

Mr Egger said that trust was an important part of policing and the presentation aimed to explain why. He noted that the circumstances in South Africa were very different in comparison to Germany but trust remained a key element for successful policing. The Police as a whole was in the middle of society and without the trust and help of citizens, police struggle to do fulfil the role of protection. The presentation consisted of four agendas: targets of good police work, value and preconditions for trust building, how do they gain trust and policing in Munich with practical examples on a station level.

For citizens, safety was the most important aspect of police work. Police have to enforce law and to prevent crime. There were many responsibilities too.  The benefits of trusted work were more confidence in the police work and a higher crime clearing rate which leads to less street crime. Another benefit was that a trustful organisation meant the police profession was more attractive to people.

Laws were one of the preconditions for police work. Good staffing and good education were also preconditions. Police work was very complicated and well educated staff was vital as the work was more than carrying a weapon and being physically strong. Resources were another precondition as well as purpose- which were being a part of creating a safe society and communities. As a part of resources, partners were essential. Working as a unit with laws and partners was important but not always easy to achieve as trust contributed a lot to this. It took a long time after the Holocaust for police to be accepted and trusted within the community. More than just laws, guidelines and philosophies were integral for trusted police work. It must be clear that police were not there for the government but that they were there for the people. In the past, police were often there for the government. This also had to be communicated to and felt by the people in order for police to become a part of the community. Both sides of crime, the victims and perpetrators, needed to be engaged with properly for progress to happen.

Police work only functions if there was good philosophy. Mr Egger described that what made this philosophy was culture. Culture here was what a policeman does at night when nobody was watching. And for this, training and education was the basis. He divided this into three competencies:

  • Field competence – knowledge of law;
  • Acting competence - practical training; and
  • Social and personal competence – personality development.

Leadership formed a part of this competence. In Germany, it takes a long time to become a leader in the police force. There were three levels of education and training; namely police school, police academy and police university. The normal process of gaining rank in leadership was to first attend a police school for two years, followed by a year of practical work and afterwards another three years of working. If one had been proven to be good at their work under constant evaluation, there was an opportunity to apply to a police academy which included a test on social skills. After studying with the police academy for two years, one would be at a middle rank/middle management level which still meant field work. After five years of working at this level, one could apply for a two year programme which involved working at four different stations and being evaluated by four different police chiefs. If one’s marks were good enough, there was an assessment to complete to enter a police university. Only 50% of applicants would succeed. After another two years with the police university, one could slowly make their way up the ranks, eventually landing at police president level. The idea behind all of this was that policing had a lot to do with experience and understanding the many complicated elements in the work.

With this system, the Bavarian police force has gained trust. Statistics show that it was currently the most trusted institution in Germany and that police work was the most attractive work to the youth. This was a huge benefit as it allowed the organisation to be particular with whom it chose to join the system.

In gaining trust, the victims trust was the most important. There was a victim protection act and special offices for crime victims. Mr Egger listed the many types of special offices which included therapeutic institutions, intervention agencies, victim assistance organisations and social psychiatric services.

He described the process of risk assessment for victim protection which was done in conjunction with many different specialists in the field, like psychiatrists and doctors, local government and other fields’ specialists. There was general victim protection, operational victim protection, “light” and operational victim protection which meant for resettlement, identity change and so forth. He gave the example of the crime of murder; 40% of murders were done with guns. In America there was the idea that if a citizen owns a weapon they were safe, but tens of thousands of lives were lost because of guns. So guns did not mean that a community was safer. This kind of notion had to be deeply looked into and investigated.

The offender in a crime was a part of society, and would remain as such. How suspects were treated was crucial for preventing crime as it was important to search for the truth and not just for a conviction. To be successful, the person must be respected (fair handling) as well as the law (interrogation). Gaining trust from the perpetrator allowed for the process of rehabilitation to begin.

Mr Egger went through three aspects of crime prevention; being offender orientated, avoiding the situation and strengthening social control, and gave examples of each. For all of this, crime analysis was essential; it gave knowledge to know what strategies and tactics to implement. This information also needed to be shared and not withheld from partners who could productively engage with it.  He stressed the importance of a high clearing rate of cases and gave a brief overview of the new face recognition research process that was happening.

Mr Breitner followed his colleague’s presentation to reiterate why trust and trust building was so important with the context of examples from his own precinct in Munich. The ratio of police to citizens was 1:429, this was a ratio he was satisfied with but said that it was cooperation with other partners and organisations that was a necessity. Ordinary citizens within the community contributed greatly to successful policing in the roles as liaison officers and voluntary citizen patrols. Trust was created by programmes aimed towards four age-based groups (kindergarten, elementary school, high school and adults). Youth officers significantly aided in citizen focused policing. It was important to remember that trust does not solve cases but it was beneficial in the acquiring of information to solve criminal cases. He explained that when crimes were committed by police officers, this would break the trust of the citizens. It was normal that complaints were filed against police officers but those needed to be investigated and dealt with properly. If there had been a behavioural issue with a police officer, the station needed to formally apologise to the victims as well as have the officer go through behavioural training or whatever was deemed to be the right consequential action. It was hard to rebuild trust after it had been broken.

In summary, the benefits of good cooperation within the society were listed as follows:

  • Communication and de-escalation skills of police officers were crucial to gain trust and these skills were acquired through strict basic and further training.
  • Target orientated cooperation with the different stakeholders was fundamental;
  • Successful enforcement of the law was the best way to gain trust;
  • Trust was a basic element for professional and successful policing; and
  • Gaining trust was a long term and never-ending strategy.

 

Mr Gideon Morris, the HoD of the Western Cape Government Department on Community Safety (WCG DoCS), would present on the Youth, Safety and Religion Partnership programme (YSRP). He introduced his team; the Deputy Director Mr Mansoor Lagkar, the Acting Director Mr Trevor Wingrove and the Chief Director, Advocate Yashina Pillay.

 

Briefing by Department of Community Safety on the Youth, Safety and Religion Partnership Programme 

The objectives of the YSRP programme was to provide a safe space for youth within vulnerable areas; those areas which were mainly marked by the murder rate and gang activities, and to involve the youth in constructive activities during some of the school holidays. He clarified that the programmes do not run for the full holiday period but usually only for a week.  The Department partnered with religious fraternities as a number of them had a well-established footprint in areas with high crime rates, and already had youth programmes of their own running. The Department helped to amplify what was done by the established religious fraternities’ youth programmes. The YSRP was piloted in the 2012/13 financial year and has become an annual programme included in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the WCG DoCS.

Mr Morris gave the details of the number of approved institutions, the number of areas where the programme was run, the total expenditure and the amount of youth reached for each year over the past six years. He noted that this was a part of the APP which meant it had been audited and agreements were signed with each of the institutions involved. Over the six years, a total of R22 911 456 has been invested thus far. He continued to give a breakdown of the investment for the current financial year which only included information on the total June/July investment as their programme would be run again during the upcoming December/January holiday period. During the June/July period 89.2% of the money spent had been invested in gang station areas which showed that the programme focused mostly on problem areas.

 He explained the process of how allocations were made. The WCG DoCS opened an advert and place adverts in community papers to invite religious organisations to apply for funding. The deadline for the December/January period had been the 24th of August. After this there was an adjudication panel meeting which consisted of the South African Police Services (SAPS), the Department of Community Safety and Community Police Forums (CPFs). For the upcoming holiday period the adjudication would be completed by the 19th of September.  The recommendation paper from the panel meeting would be submitted to the HoD in the week of the 1st to the 5th of October. Payment allocations would hopefully be completed by the 29th of October.

83% of the programmes were visited unannounced to ensure that it was taking place. The Department also keeps a detailed assessment of the programmes. CPFs and SAPS were invited to conduct unannounced visits. Last year an impact analysis of the YSRP was commissioned which was adjudicated by the Officer of the President. He gave the key findings of the independent impact study which were as follows:

  • The YSRP programme was able to keep children and youth off the street;
  • It was a good foundation for immediate outcomes of safety;
  • The programme experienced zero disruptions of safety concern;
  • It was recommended that the Department be more targeted in the marketing strategies; and
  • Faith Based Organisations should be provided the opportunity to workshop or forum together for engagement and sharing of strategies and design principles.
  • It was also recommended that the WCG DoCS upgrade its technology of the administrative system.

Some of the findings mentioned were of a practical basis but it all was part of an improvement plan, and as a part of the impact process the Department needed to demonstrate that it addresses these concerns raised during the evaluation function.

Discussion

Bavarian Police:

The Chairperson thanked the speakers for the presentation; it had been an illuminating continuation of what was learnt during the visit to Bavaria. He said that he lived in a precinct that had a similar population to the precinct Mr Breitner had given statistics on, but his precinct had half the number of officers and about 40 murders a year which was a tragedy. He continued to say that as South Africa was in a completely different dimension with regards to criminality compared to a sophisticated community like Germany and Bavaria, a crisis intervention would have to take place. The investment in the quality of training of recruit and training of police officers would be a critical factor in this. It needed to be insured that academically qualified people were inserted on station level to improve the efficiency of the work done as well as to get rid of any temptations regarding corruption.

Mr D Mitchell (DA) welcomed the presentation and asked what the percentage of the government budget allocated to policing was. With regards to the youth officers, was there a link between the education department and policing and what allowed the police profession to be such an attractive field to youth? The process of professional development was impressive and he asked if it included constant emotional/psychological support that kept the officers in the system.

Ms P Lekker (ANC) started by welcoming the presentation and stated that she had not had the opportunity to join the visit to Bavaria with her colleagues. Germany was one of the wealthiest countries in Europe whilst South Africa was a developing country. In terms of the socio-economic conditions of South Africa’s communities, particularly looking at the stations in the worst areas marked by the crime statistics, they were predominantly poverty-stricken areas far away from urban areas with resources. She asked that if there had not been enough resources and investment during one’s upbringing, what outcomes would come as a result of that. When speaking of the role of enforcing law, preventing crime and responsibilities, were these seen as solely the police force’s responsibility or was it handled as the responsibility of government and the communities. She agreed that building trust must begin at young ages. In South Africa it was common that misbehaving children were taken to police stations to be scared into being good. This created the view from young that police conducted punishment and were to be feared instead of trusted to provide a sense of security. She reflected that she was born and raised in Nyanga which was known as the murder capital of the country. In the late 1990s to early 2000s there had been a peace project funded by Bavaria to increase visibility of the citizen patrol in the area. This had really helped improve security and the sense of protection but the discontinuing of it had negatively affected those who lived in the community.

Mr B Kivedo (DA) said that it gave hope to hear such a positive story of change especially after the release of the crime statistics in the country. He quoted the logo of an insurance company, “trust is earned”, and said that this was proven by the Bavarian police. He noted the easy access to the police force which started from the kindergarten age group through to adult education. The Bavarian police made sure that it was a part of the curriculum. He said the point that police should belong to many entities and other community organisations had been an important one as it allowed it them to pick up information from the ground. He said that the interaction with perpetrators seemed as if it was moving away from punitive measures towards rehabilitation which was a positive move. A glaring difference was the philosophy of the Bavarian force that it communicated to the citizens that they worked for them and not for government. It built trust to know that the citizens’ security was of prime importance. In the South African scenario the lack vigilance was an important challenge to be addressed.

The Chairperson said that the Members had given more comments than questions. He allowed the representatives to answer the questions posed.

Responses

Mr Egger thanked the Members for their interest. He was unsure of the percentage of the budget allocated to policing but over the past two years the budget has been increased by about 30% due to the progress made. He said that trust in policing needed to be made into a statistic and shared as they had done so that progress could be monitored more accurately. The education and training of recruits has become less military inspired, as so much time was wasted just marching around. When there were new and young officers at stations, their input was also highly regarded instead of being dismissed by the older leaders as it would be in the military. There were many opportunities to attend seminars during the course of the year which would have many focuses such as leadership, communication and behaviour. He said that government work in Germany was attractive because of the security and benefits and another factor was that police had a good reputation. Socio-economic factors had a big impact on people’s behaviour but education was the biggest factor especially for personal development. The responsibility of crime prevention was shared with everyone and the government. He noted that police officers did not aim to teach learners during the contact sessions but to create visibility and build trust. It was very true that trust was earned and could not be bought and it was also an on-going process. Police were not seen as individuals by the citizens they interacted with but seen as a whole which meant the words and actions of one could negatively affect police as a whole. Visibility of the police force was a necessity, they must not sit and wait for a call but rather be in the streets and prepared. They also actively sought feedback from those they had worked for by going to get reviews and suggestions from the citizen’s three-months after the incident. That helped build trust too and gave the police the opportunity to learn from their actions.

Mr Breitner said that four times a year for two days each there were seminars that had to be attended by the officers on how to handle critical situations, including behavioural and communication development. He also had the option to send 20% of his team for additional training on what was needed whenever it was deemed necessary. The youth officers worked together with the teachers and the teachers also attended seminars with the officers for a few days a year. There was a contract between the Ministries of Education and Internal Affairs.

Ms Lekker asked if there were cold cases encountered in the line of work in Germany and if so, how were those approached.

The Chairperson urged that when the representatives spoke to the National Commissioner that they compare the two countries and bring in the idea of a transitional crisis management phase as that would be a necessity in this country. He said that housing was a big problem for South African police as they were often recruited far away from the place of their deployment and continued to live there whilst working at the station. Police officers did not earn enough - especially the lower ranks - to afford to move to housing closer to their homes. Also many of them lived where crime rates were the highest which put them at greater risk. He asked if there was housing support subsidies or dedicated housing for the officers in Germany.

Mr Breitner said that there were similar housing difficulties because Germany was a very expensive place to live and the salaries of young officers were not high enough to afford closer housing. Over the past two years he had not had any officers who did not manage to find close living space and what often happened was that the recruitments came together to share a nearby living space which they would stay in during shifts and afterwards return home. In practice housing was not a huge problem and he thought that trust was perhaps a factor in it. The mentality was that it was better to share a small space with some colleagues and receive a small income if it meant that they could be a police officer anyway.

Mr Hanns Bühler, the Resident Representative of the Hanns-Seidel Foundation, said that the challenges faced in South Africa were very difficult and could not be compared to the situation in Munich.

Mr Breitner said that he personally lived 25 kilometres from his station and he, like many others, relied on public transport as it was so efficient and reliable.

Mr Bühler added that police officers could use public transport for free. The idea behind that was there would always be police officers in the public transport systems which increased security and visibility.

Mr Egger replied that there were special units for cold cases. There were two types of cold cases: cases that were solved but the perpetrators were not found and for that there were targeted footage search teams who focussed solely on searching for the suspects across the globe; and the typical cold case which always gets relooked into when there was new information found or new techniques (like fingerprinting, DNA and facial recognition) developed to aid in solving the case. He did not know the exact success rate with the cold cases but he reassured Members that cold cases were never neglected. There was a legal deadline to solve the case to avoid cold cases from happening. The clearing rate for murders was between 90%-95%.

The Chairperson thanked the guests and delegation for joining the Members for the meeting. He asked two of the Members to present the tokens of appreciation to the representatives. He thanked them again and wished them safe travels.

Department of Community Safety:

The Chairperson opened for the Members to ask questions.

Mr F Christians (ACDP) asked if there was a targeted approach for youth in gang-stricken areas for behavioural change/development. He felt that it was one thing for the children to be entertained during the holidays but they needed to be taught something that would improve their lives.

Ms Lekker asked what skills were taught to the youth attending the programmes, and what the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding with the religious fraternities were to ensure the safety and resilience of the youth. She continued to ask what opportunities were bought to the religious fraternities by these partnerships and how the fraternities were recruited. In the gang-stricken areas there were 89 areas targeted, she asked what the desirable outcomes of the money invested into it was and the success rate of the outcomes. She asked for clarity on exactly what the Department had been monitoring.

Mr Mitchell welcomed the presentation and said that as long as children were being kept off the street and been given a safe space the programme had been successful. The development of other skills could come later. He said that the content of the holiday programmes needed to be carefully designed. With the deadline for submissions, he asked how this affected the content of the programmes. He indicated that he thought different faith organisations would receive assistance and not the same ones repeatedly.

Mr Kivedo said with regards to religious fraternities, he personally knew of many “second chance” people who he described as ex-gang members who had converted to a religion and made a total turnaround in their lives. He said that these people knew the dynamics of crime and gangs and that they had valuable information to offer. He asked what the possibility was of deploying people of similar circumstances based on the skills, expertise and experience they could offer.

The Chairperson asked the audience if there were any service providers who were receiving the investment of the Department in attendance. If so they were offered an opportunity to speak after the questions had been answered.

Mr Morris referred to the questions on the targeted approach for the development of skills in the youth and said that those sorts of programmes were extremely costly. There was a budget of less than R200 per youngster whereas those skills development programmes worked with a budget of about R38 000 per youngster. The YSRP was about what was affordable and reaching out to a greater amount of kids. As this programme relied on the already established religious fraternities’ youth programmes, the Department did not have full control of the content of the programmes. A subsidy of R50 per day was given and it was required that the youth attending were each given a meal. He believed that the core business of religious fraternities was about behavioural change. The exposure to that type of environment and a safe space was the intention for the YSRP. There was now an improvement plan that would run over two or three years after this financial year was complete.

Mr Lagkar said that in terms of the allocation of the budget, it was about R50 per youth per day and it varied according to the requests of the organisations. The total budget allocated to each organisation was between R16 000 and R21 000, depending on where it was located. Organisations in areas with higher crime rates received a larger amount compared to areas of lower priority.

Mr Morris noted that for a project with at most R21 000 for the week was not a lot of money. He corrected Member Lekker that it was not 89 areas but 89 institutions in gang-stricken areas. The marked gang areas amounted to 26 in the province and those were determined by the police. He had previously asked the Police Commissioner how those areas were determined and he was told that the areas put themselves onto the list based on the amount of murders and gang-related activities. The desirable outcomes were measured by ensuring that if for an example there was an agreement that the institution would have 30 learners in attendance for five days, the Department would check if the space was safe and then the learners were provided with a meal. That was the extent of the monitoring and the WCG DoCS did not go into the details of the content of the programmes yet.

Mr Lagkar said that if the audits were approved, an agreement had to be signed. The agreement defines what amount was being issued and what the targeted amount of youth would be reached by the particular institution. It also spelled out that there had to be a suitable venue arranged for the programme to take place, and there needed to be a facilitator for every 20 youngsters in attendance. An indemnity form for each child had to be signed by a parent or guardian. The monitors of the programmes were able to check the attendance register which would be on display at the venue when visiting.

Mr Morris said that the deployment of “second-chancers” as youth workers was being looked into and it was possible that they received a stipend. Extensive research had been done on what activities were most preferred by the communities. Religion had been a very highly requested one, especially in the poorer areas for women and children. This Department was the only one that was currently making any kind of investment into religious fraternities. He believed that these organisations contributed significantly to the stabilisation, crime prevention and the promotion of safety in those communities.

The Chairperson welcomed the guests to give input.

Reverend Samuel Dean of the Yeshua Covenant Church in Kraaifontein thanked the Chairperson and the Committee for the opportunity to speak. He was the Chairman, CEO and senior pastor at his institution. His organisation had been in partnership with the Department since 2013 and a very good relationship had developed over the years. The programme was essentially a partnership between government and the religious organisation. This also helped to change the perception of government from the view of the affected youth and communities. The programme had done a lot with regard to providing safety and security; and gave the government the chance to be involved with communities on ground level. His organisation was highly community-driven, it was fully compliant with government and it was registered as a public benefit organisation as well as a non-profit organisation. Over the past years, it has reached a lot of youth and children in Kraaifontein even though the Department policy has changed in terms of restriction regarding the number of beneficiaries. None the less, his organisation continued to reach thousands of children. It maintained registers, photographs, videos and media reports to prove this. During this year’s June/July holiday period there were 1058 children and youth in attendance for the week-long programme. His organisation ran various programmes and worked in partnership with another organisation which catered for boys in drugs and gangs. Apart from the religious programme, there was also involvement in the rehabilitation of youth since 2014. The little support received from the Department was needed and has been very helpful in enabling the organisation to expand the programme and be more efficient in bringing about change in the community.

Rev Samuel also served on the board of the CPF in Kraaifontein and during a recent meeting with SAPS it was reported that his community has been quietened in recent times when it came to drugs and gangsterism despite the ongoing gang violence and murder. He reiterated that the YSRP had been very helpful. He referred to questions on what the content of the programme entailed and said that his particular organisation said that every time the programme was run, it brought in experts on early childhood development, directorate social workers and police to join and assist in providing information on crime prevention and avoiding school drop-outs and teenage pregnancies. The programme was used as an opportunity to also empower the youth. His organisation separated the younger children from youth and engaged with them in those separate groups. There were also fun activities like art and jumping castles for the children to partake in and were always well supervised in a protected and safe area. Recruitment was done using posters, social media and the Tygerberg radio station. The support provided by the Department and its YSRP programme had been extremely helpful to his organisation and he expressed his appreciation for it.

The Chairperson thanked Reverend Samuel for his testimony as well as the HoD and the Department for its presentation.

The meeting was adjourned.

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