14 December 2012

South Africa: Centre 'To Improve Police Response Times'

South African Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa opened the Mangaung 10111 Command Centre in Heidedal in the Free State on Wednesday in a bid to bridge the gap between victims of crime and the police.

Mthethwa said one of the more prominent complaints from communities was the slow police response time on calls logged with 10111 centres.

The opening of the 10111 Command Centre aimed to support the department's "triple-C approach": better command and control within the police, better co-ordination, and better communication, both externally and within the South African Police Service (SAPS).

"An effective station commander must be on the ground, overseeing a station daily; being in touch with the communities, community policing forums and importantly, leading by example," Mthethwa said.

Communicating with communities

"Police must ensure that once they arrest criminals, [they] communicate to society that such scoundrels are now behind bars. Failure to do so leads to anxiety, strained relations and perceptions that police are ineffective, when in fact they are effective."

He also noted positive results on the piloted flagship 10111 project launched two years ago in Midrand in Gauteng in partnership with Business against Crime South Africa, explaining that the idea at the time was to ensure that as they build 10111 command centres anywhere in the country, they benchmark their centres with a clear blueprint plan.

Some of the outcomes resulting from the intervention included assessments and quicker turn-around response calls, effective monitoring systems and significant financial savings to the department.

"Lessons learnt have assisted in improved efficiency, timeous and better management of calls when society reports crimes to the police," Mthethwa said.

'Protecting citizens' fundamental rights'

"Through qualitative management of the 10111 centres, we can improve performance putting in place a human resource complement that is well-capacitated and evaluated on a regular basis," he said.

The department is also currently in the process of reviewing the White Paper on Safety and Security, primarily to ensure that the SAPS turns into functional machinery that is continuously improving on its deliverables.

Mthethwa said this speaks to a transformation process that is results-driven, effective and responsive to the safety needs of society.

"As we emphasised in the draft White Paper, transformation within the SAPS in the broader sense must be aimed at changing the internal police environment and culture into a professional, representative, efficient, effective, transparent and accountable service," he said.

"It must be a service which upholds and protects the fundamental rights of citizens while executing its mandate in accordance with the Constitution and the needs of the community.

"Community-orientated policing must speak to the manner in which police operate and how they understand and engage with the communities they serve. Equally this philosophy must recognise that policing is not something done to people but rather policing is something that is done with people, and to achieve these, systems such as 10111 centres are important," Mthethwa said.


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