Urban Security Reasearch at the Centre of Criminology

Community Safety Models Development


Operationalising a Whole-of-Society Approach to Safety Governance

Actions that governments can take at all levels of government, in collaboration with the private sector and each other, to better assess, prevent, respond to and recover from the effects of extreme events, as well as take measures to build resilience to rebound from unanticipated events.

South Africa has had a comprehensive crime prevention policy agenda for some time in the form of the 1996 National Crime Prevention Strategy and the 1998 White Paper on Safety and Security, for instance. Although not explicit, many of our crime prevention policies call for a ‘whole-of-society’ governance approach to promoting safety in South Africa.


What is a 'whole-of-society' approach?

A whole-of-society security governance approach is to acknowledge that the causes of insecurity, disorder and crime are complex. The solution therefore needs to be complex. It cannot be resolved by a single institution or through a single method or technique. 

Whole-of-society governance simply entails the acknowledgement that a problem as complex as crime (particularly violent crime) needs to be dealt with holistically. It is also to acknowledge that there is a diversity of individuals, institutions and organisations that are already dealing with crime and unsafety in some way. A whole-of-society model thus seeks to identify, mobilise and integrate the resources and knowledge of all those (public and private, state and non-state) who can contribute to resolving a particular safety issue. It does not mean that all role-players have to be mobilised all of the time, it is to align resources to resolving solutions as and when needed recognising the unique contribution that each entity can bring to resolving the issue. 


What is The Centre of Criminology doing?

The challenge, however, is that despite the supporting policy, implementation of a whole-of-society approach has largely failed. This is, in part, due to the need to create the right conditions, so as to effectively operationalise a whole-of-society approach.

To this effect, the Centre of Criminology has been involved in research on models of community safety to address the challenge of operationalising a whole-of-society approach to safety governance. 


Urban Security Models DevelopmentCriminology UCT's recent projects in developing models of community safety in Cape & the Western Cape Province:

Neighbourhood Watches & CPF's: Design of Standard Operating Procedures

  • ​UNODC Guide to Urban Security



Neighbourhood Watches & Community Police Forums: 

Design of Standard Operating Procedures


Safety & Violence Initiative, UCTCentre of Criminology, UCT




The Centre of Criminology in partnership with UCT’s Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI) is currently involved in a project funded by the Department of Community Safety, Provincial Government of the Western Cape. The objectives of the project are to explore the functioning of Neighbourhood Watches and Community Police Forums in select sites in the Western Cape so as to develop a set of Standard operating procedures and a polycentric model(s) of security governance that can inform the development of regulations for the Community Safety Act of 2013. Focussing on Community Police Forums and Neighbourhood Watches is to recognise that these nodes have the potential to harness the knowledge, resources and capacities of a range of state and non-state actors and/or hold state and non-state actors accountable for their actions. In some noteworthy cases these nodes have been effective in doing that; however, overall, across the Province, research has shown that many have not reached their full potential due to a range of issues. 


In light of this, the research has the goal of developing regulations informed by a whole-of-society approach that seeks to guide Community Police Forums and Neighbourhood Watches towards achieving their potential through being Constitutionally-aligned, well-functioning, resource-efficient, partnership-based, sustainable, accountable and regulated. The findings of this research project will also seek to enable the Department of Community Safety and other relevant provincial government departments to devise more focused and context-specific regulations for the Community Safety Act (2013). This in turn will provide an opportunity for provincial government officials to make more informed decisions regarding the promotion of safety and oversight of policing within the Western Cape Province. Thereby contributing to increasing safety in the Province. 

Furthermore, members of the Centre of Criminology and the Safety and Violence Initiative are members of the Steering Committee of the Community Safety Improvement Plan (CSIP) of the Department of Community Safety of the Western Cape Provincial Government. The Steering Committee of CSIP was established in 2015 for the purposes of operationalising a set of whole-of-society design principles for security governance in the province. The Steering Committee is comprised of academics and members of the Department of Community Safety. It meets on a regular basis and its objectives include providing strategic direction to the Department of Community Safety, improving operational functioning, as well as monitoring and evaluation of its programmes.

See the Department of Community Safety’s 5 Year Strategic Plan 2015-2020


 Back to Top


Implementation of the recommendations of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry

Khayeliysha Commission of Inquiry into Policing




The Commission of Inquiry into allegations of police inefficiency in Khayelitsha and a breakdown in relations between the community and the police in Khayelitsha, or simply 'The Khayelitsha Commission on policing' – was established by the Premier of the Western Cape Provincial Government in mid-2012 to investigate policing in the township of Khayelitsha. Members of the Centre of Criminology, with the Safety and Violence Initiative, made submissions to the Khayelitsha Commission of Enquiry. One of the submissions included recommendations for a more professional and legitimate police service as well as a whole-of-society approach to policing, which entails developing dynamic and flexible cooperative relationships among a range of state and non-state entities, including the community itself.  


After the conclusion of the Khayelitsha Commission on policing in 2014, the South African Police Service (with support from NGO's and others) initiated a process of engagement by which the recommendations made in the report could be implemented in Khayelitsha. Members of the Centre of Criminology are part of the joints forum as well as members of some of the sub-forums. The joints forum, which meets on a regular basis, was created to steer the implementation of the recommendations. Membership of the joint forum include for instance: members of the community, academia, government and security officials; NGO's; CBO's; and NPO's. The sub-forums were established to focus on particular areas of concern (for instance, transportation, youth, anti-vigilantism, violence against women and children and so forth), and aim to take forward The Khayelitsha Commission’s recommendations.


 Back to Top



Campus Safety Innovation Hub (CSIH), UCT


Campus Security The Campus Safety Innovation Hub is a recently established initiative within UCT, founded by The Safety and Violence Initiative and The Centre of Criminology. The CSIH seeks to develop a network of researchers, students, campus security personnel and appropriate stakeholders interested in improving safety within the university and its surrounds.  

The aims of the hub are to explore, experiment and study ways in which university spaces (on- and off-campus) can be made safer for all staff, students and visitors.

The CSIH seeks to employ a whole-of-society governance approach to campus safety through exploring ways in which existing knowledge and resources at UCT can be comprehensively and effectively harnessed in innovative ways, so as to improve campus safety.


Back to top                                                                    

< Previous: Crime Rates & The SACN