Preventing crime in your neighbourhood is about 2 things:
When you care about people, your thinking becomes clear in what needs to be done to prevent crime. Since crime in your neighbourhood cannot be taken care of alone, it needs everyone’s participation and commitment, some form of thinking needs to take place to get people involved and prevent crime.
On the people side then, one has to ask the question “what motivates people to become committed in preventing crime?”
There are a few reasons that motivate people – a caring heart, a just cause and necessity.
- People who care about people will naturally be motivated to help people.
- People who have a just cause will be motivated to fulfil that purpose or need.
- People who find themselves with a need will be motivated to find some way of getting help or contributing for help.
Unfortunately, there will always be those people who don’t participate in the crime prevention programme but benefit from it. Changing the mindset of these people is hugely challenging and energy should rather be spent on the positive actions planned to make your community safe.
Now that we understand to a degree, the people in our neighbourhood, how do you proceed in a programme of community commitment to preventing crime?
First decide how big your neighbourhood needs to be – set the boundaries that are sensible, considering the volume of people / the current crime rate / the challenges in the environment and how those aspects will be realistically be controlled or managed. You don’t want the neighbourhood to be too large, communication and control become issues and bring their own sets of problems.
Let people know in some way that you care about the neighbourhood, and are keen to start a crime prevention programme for the neighbourhood with their participation.
Word of mouth is a good way with least risk from the criminals.
If everyone in the neighbourhood tells their neighbour on the left, on the right, in front of them and behind them within your decided neighbourhood boundaries, you will have already covered who you need to be participating in the programme.
Be careful not to spread the news to wide – keep it in your neighbourhood where everyone should already know everyone.
NEVER underestimate the value of timeous and effective communication and that the personal touch is what it is all about – caring for the people.
- Preparations for the first get together:
- Set the date, time and place for the meeting to be held
- Everyone needs to give thought to and bring ideas to this first meeting on how crime can be prevented in the neighbourhood.
This will contribute to your meeting being crisp and to the point and minimize the “long talkers” taking control of the gathering.
- Start on time (confidence and reliability within the neighbourhood are built on structure and you need both for success)
- Agenda – is the meeting outline so that they fully understand the format of the meeting and what the outcome must be (this will avoid people getting edgy and impatient)
- Time manage – the meeting well. Don’t get side tracked by people going on a tangent or on their own agenda’s – bring them back to the outcomes you want to achieve.
- Use a board or flipchart – to log the ideas people bring to the meeting, so that in the end you will have a positive direction of what needs to be done, who has got to do it and the deadline when it has to be done.
- Practical solution considerations – is it safe, is it doable, is it practical, is it too costly, what is the risk, how do we mange the risk, how valuable will the impact be from doing it, is it legal, how often does it need to be done, who will be doing it, can everyone do it, how do we monitor its effectiveness.
- Leave the meeting with everyone having a purpose – this means that you should be able to practically implement and use some of the ideas discussed, right from the time they leave the meeting.
- Implement the buddy, buddy system (see the Buddy Buddy System flyer)
- Next date – Don’t forget to make a date for the follow-up meeting. You may need a few of these while everyone gets used to the programme. Every week for the first month would be ideal and then taper off to every month thereafter. The committee should be able to keep things in check in between meetings.
- Programme committee – don’t have more than 3 to 5 people on the committee for co-ordinating the programme, it gets messy.
- Co-ordinating the programme:
- Run a checklist or app of sorts – to help you keep abreast of the project and do pro-active planning, run a checklist or reminder system that is effective.
- Communication – keep it strong and timeous with everyone
- Handle any “failures to happen” immediately. Find out the core reason why it failed, discuss the failure, find a solution to illuminate the failure and communicate the change to everyone.
- Keep statistics – what is positively working in reducing crime in your neighbourhood and whats not working in reducing crime in your neighbourhood. Review these stats daily if your crime is high or not less than once a week if it is more on the prevention side.
- Neighbourhood crime
prevention practical ideas:
- Always remember – criminals need time, light and/or darkness and opportunity to do their deeds, do all you can consistently to not give them what they need. Change your routine so that they can’t plan their opportunity.
- Have a plan – you are on your own for the first 10 to 20 minutes generally speaking, so have a plan for inside your house and while outside. Have a plan on where to shop and where not to shop. Have a plan on how to get help and who to call for help. Have a plan on how to notify the neighbourhood of whats happening so that they can be prepared and assist.
- Run self defence session (done by an expert) – where people can learn to look after themselves when alone and in groups.
- Know your neighbourhood people – identify the elderly or vulnerable people and accommodate their needs in the big picture.
- Observe and report – What do I see that is not normal and report it to the correct authority or neighbourhood coordinator.
- Keep useful information – when something does happen make notes on your cell or in a book or on a piece of paper. Write the facts only. Facts like: time of incident / place of incident / type of incident / male or female / tall or short / colour shirt and trousers / anything abnormal like a limp or strange accent / type of footwear and colour of footwear / headgear / eye glasses / fat tummy / very long legs / colour hair / type of car / registration number / colour / model / more than one car / how many people.
- Use practical things to prevent crime – Prickly plants under the window sills, when the sun is gone switch the outside lights on, close your curtains so that your movements inside cannot be seen, know what you can use inside your house as a weapon, be observant, have a pet that can pre-warn you of a problem or unknown person, don’t switch your lights on inside if something happens – you know your house better than they will, carry a torch to the side of you and not directly in front of you, don’t have plants that people can hide behind close to your gates or doors, make sure everyone knows where to go and what to do when an incident happens.
- Personal safety:
There is no place within your neighbourhood crime prevention programme that needs people to put themselves or others at risk or in danger. It is a prevention programme and not a “front line” programme. Families need their dads and mums and brothers and sisters.
Safety is all about the caring and the thinking.
What do we need to care about and what needs to be done to make it happen?
Use our Buddy Buddy System template to help you.