WESTVILLE COMMUNITY POLICING FORUM
What is the concept of Sector Policing? Who sets the sectors? What's it all about?
Legal and Structural information.
An introduction to Sector Policing
Compiled by: Cst Stephen Clark, SAPS Westville Communications Officer
1) The purpose of this story.
There has been a fair amount of confusion and questions regarding “Sector Policing” and the naming, or should I say numbering, of Sectors within Westville. That is Sectors 1 to 4. Some community members have been a little upset thinking the SAPS have joined Metro in “renaming” places arbitrarily. When you thought you lived in Westville North, now suddenly Supt Singh is talking about Sector 1. This is not the case. As you will discover, establishment and numbering of sectors is for Community Policing purposes, and not to rearrange names to confuse where your mail is being sent.
Within the Police Service Act no.68 of 1995, a policy framework was introduced on how a partnership with communities can be established and how these partnerships should function in order to resolve community problems and address the cause of crime and disorder.
This was the birth of Community Policing. A neat definition of Community Policing is: “A philosophy based on a partnership between the Police and the Community to ensure a safe and secure environment in the country.”
3) So, what is Sector Policing?
Sector Policing is basically dividing the entire area into smaller, manageable sectors. It is seen as an enabling mechanism organising and mobilising individuals within communities to establish the philosophy of community policing. It is essentially a “back to basics” approach to improvement of service delivery.
We will see later how these sectors are divided up and boundaries decided upon.
Implementing Sector Policing thus enables the SAPS to police your suburb to the best of our abilities and resources, within the guidelines laid down by the Law.
So, now we have:
* A geographical division of a station area into sectors.
* Active participation by the community in respect of its safety and security.
* The launch of informed, intelligence driven crime prevention projects, at sector level, by both the SAPS and the community.
4) Ultimately, what are the objectives?
Sector Policing is essentially a crime prevention technique. Therefore, the police and the community will be able to join their capabilities and in partnership, effect projects to address contributing factors to crime, identifiable hotspots and vulnerable communities.
The vision is to bring the police closer to the community. We are trying to eradicate the “them” and “us” attitude. Rather if when addressing crime the “we” word is used, we have quadrupled the force against it. By becoming closer to the community, the SAPS can render a tailor-made policing service, by using the marketing term “wants and needs”, expressed by that sector community.
Co-operation between the SAPS and the sector community through consultation and joint projects (bush cutting, street light fault reporting) will enhance healthy police-community relations. I go back to the “them” and “us”.
Sector Policing therefore becomes that platform that facilitates such a close engagement and positive environment.
Some areas have the establishment of Sector Forums. Unfortunately, participation and commitment to these is not always forthcoming. In Westville, we address all the same matters within one forum, the Community Policing Forum.
5) Who does what?
The Station Commander
He or she is in overall command of the process. He also appoints sector commanders and tasks them accordingly via the Crime Prevention Commander and Security Companies are involved in the communication flow and active patrols.
The Station Commissioner also maintains the flow of information within the branches of the station. This is usually done at the daily Station Crime Meeting. With an effective flow if info within the station, crime trends and patterns can be better identified and policed.
The Crime Prevention Head/s
This person or persons has direct operational command and control over the Sector Policing process.
He co-ordinates the crime prevention needs of all the sectors. Specific crime Prevention needs are identified within a specific sector this will be raised at the Station Crime Meeting. He then posts the Crime Prevention members accordingly on a day to day basis. A simple example would be a sudden resurgence of hijackings in a specific sector during a certain time. Projects and operations organised, resources will be allocated to deal with that particular problem or need as well as communicate with that sector community in terms of suspicious vehicles to be on the lookout for, etc.
The CP head will also ensure that the profile of the sector is updated regularly and accommodated.
He will ensure the effective functioning of the sector team and liaise with sector commanders to implement long term proactive strategies.
The Sector Commander
At the beginning of the whole process, this person, in conjunction with the Station Commissioner and Crime Prevention Commander (sometimes they are one and the same person) needs to compile a sector profile, identifying causes of crime and contributing factors to crime in his sector. The need for specific crime prevention operations must be identified. Street watch groups, Security Companies and Metro police Services activities are co-ordinated with the Crime Prevention Commander.
It is also his responsibility to attend CPF meetings. If he is unavailable, feedback is gained form the Communications Officer or Station Commissioner.
6) What is a sector boundary and where do I buy one?
Boundaries should follow certain logical and practical criteria.
Sector boundaries therefore can be drawn along the following lines:
-Alignment with municipal wards.
-Geographical size and topographical features such as rivers.
-Infrastructure such as roads, railway lines, bus routes or freeways.
-Demographics and common needs of the population of that sector such as residential, industrial, farms, population size, etc.
-Available community resources.
-Cluster community interest groups together.
-The manner demarcated must be objective and realistic to ensure manageability.
In this picture of a highly simplified police area, you can see three sectors. Sector 1 is a residential area, 2 small businesses and 3, industrial. The Station Commissioner has had an easy task of dividing up this sector. There are the convenient existing boundaries of a freeway and a river dividing the area. Of course in real life it isn’t this simple.