The eThekwini Municipality’s Safer Cities Department in partnership with the Municipal Institute of Learning (MILE) and Imagine Durban hosted the Urban Safety and Crime Prevention Learning Exchange from 03 – 05 December 2014 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre. The Honourable Mayor, Councillor James Nxumalo set the scene and agenda for the Learning Exchange by emphasising that the issue of crime has pre-occupied South Africa for many years. The Mayor highlighted that in addressing issues of crime we need to look holistically at the challenge, not only focusing on crime prevention but also dealing with practical methods to address these challenges.

The Learning Exchange provided City Officials, Academics and Private Sector representatives various perspectives on safety and crime prevention strategies. According to Mr Steven Maselesele, Director of Social Crime Prevention at the National Department of Social Development, when addressing safety and crime one needs to assess the impact the City has as a human entity. What reverberated from the perspectives provided on Day 1 of the Learning Exchange was that local government has a role to play in ensuring Community Safety.

Presentations on Day 2 provided an informative background of Crime Prevention Strategies. Professor Monique Marks from the Durban University of Technology provided her account of Crime Prevention and Safety by exploring the concept of Social Policing. According to Prof. Marks, the law enforcement approach is limited and is a temporary measure to fix the problem.

Of paramount to note is that environmental design and the use and design of public spaces is key in moving the agenda forward on Urban Safety and Crime Prevention. Mr Tinus Kruger, a Research Group Leader from CSIR introduced the Crime Prevention through Environmental Design Strategy (CPTED). According to Mr Kruger, crime and safety needs to be addressed at the planning, design and management level of the City. This then allows for mixed land use, reduction of vacant land and equitable provision of facilities vis a vis reducing crime by providing safety through the build environment.

Day 3 of the learning exchange explored international strategies to addressing crime and safety. The objective was to make connections between institutions and citizens. Ultimately in order for citizens to take a role in their City they have to feel safe. The Urban Safety and Crime Prevention Learning Exchange provided a platform for practitioners and academics, to address issues around crime and strategies required in implementing safety. What emanated from this learning exchange was that crime is a social problem and in order to address this social problem an integrated and collaborative relationship is essential.

Click here to view presentations from the event