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Urban Security research at The Centre of Criminology

Crime Rates & The South African Cities Network

 

Local governments must refocus the manner in which it works to improve the security of its residents. There is a lack of common and agreed baselines and the ability to effectively measure the impact of initiatives. Therefore, the plethora of available metrics must be brought together in such a way that it improves understanding of whether citizens are becoming and feeling more or less secure.

 

Background

A Citizen's Guide to SAPS Crime Statistics: 1994 - 2015UCT’s Centre of Criminology and The Safety and Violence Initiative have partnered in conducting a baseline study on the current state of urban safety, violence and crime in 8 South African Cities. Both parties are active participants in the research and policy debates on urban safety, both nationally and internationally. The aim of the study is to develop safety indicators which can be used to better understand and respond to urban security issues.

During the 2015 Millennium Development Goals deliberations, proposed Sustainable Development Goal 11 was to ‘make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’. With 50% of the world’s population currently living in urban environments, a number which is expected to grow, the issue of urban security has never been more prevalent.

Crime and victimization surveys have highlighted the pervasiveness of insecurity and injustice amongst diverse and disaggregated population groups and a 2013 United Nations Survey has indicated that protection against crime and violence is a top priority of citizens. Citizens from all walks of life, including upper -, middle - and lower income settings, attach great importance to the rule of law, freedom from fear and the way in which perceived insecurity undermines mobility, investment and livelihoods. South African, and indeed, African cities, will face considerable security challenges in future due to wide-scale urbanization, pressure on resources and the growing presence of organized criminal groups.

There are no quick fixes for urban insecurity and future policy responses need to expand beyond law enforcement responses and instead focus on development responses. Law enforcement responses have been known to exacerbate insecurity and the development community has acknowledged that urban insecurity needs to be addressed as a development agenda. National governments and urban administrations will need to draw upon multiple financial and non-financial resources and bring together cross-departmental approaches.  

Local governments must refocus the manner in which it works to improve the security of its residents. There is a lack of common and agreed baselines and the ability to effectively measure the impact of initiatives. Therefore, the plethora of available metrics must be brought together in such a way that it improves understanding of whether citizens are becoming and feeling more or less secure.

Who is conducting the study?

The project is led by the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation’s South African Research Chair in Security and Justice, housed within UCT’s Centre of Criminology. The Security and Justice research Chair aims to strengthen and improve research, and innovation of research, in South Africa in the field of security and justice, to build capacities required for research that will enhance understandings of African security and justice and to develop a network of scholars and practitioners. The Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI) is a network of researchers from a variety of disciplines across UCT, who focus on understanding and intervening in the promotion of safety and the reduction of violence in South Arica, Africa and beyond.
The key experts/researchers leading the project are Professor Mark Shaw, the incumbent of the NRF Chair of Security and Justice and head of the Centre of Criminology, Mr Guy Lamb, Director of the Safety and Violence Initiative and Ms Julie Berg, senior Lecturer in the Department of public law at the University of Cape Town and a steering committee member of the Safety and Violence Initiative.  
The experts have appointed one researcher per city who is strongly committed to building capacity at local level. The researchers will analyse data and identify case studies. These researchers are…..

Project Outputs

The project aims to deliver four interdependent deliverables, which will serve as a comprehensive guide for policymakers and practitioners seeking to understand the impact of their programming to promote urban security and safety.  At the end of the study, the researchers will have combined their expertise in order to present a set of urban safety indicators, a report on best practices to counter urban insecurity and violence, case studies and a comprehensive baseline study on urban security, violence and crime incidents in SACN member cities. Each of these four components are briefly discussed below:

1.    The development of a standardised set of urban safety indicators for South Africa cities

By developing urban safety indicators, we can provide a practical guide for policymakers to select optimal indicators for measuring urban safety. Such indicators can be divided into the following three categories - Firstly, a ‘core’ set of indicators which seek to identify different levels of safety between the cities. Such indicators will include police data, relevant survey - and health data. Secondly, there is a ‘developmental’ set of indicators which impacts on levels of crime or insecurity in each city. Such indicators include employment, education and socio-economic status. Lastly, there is a ‘programme’ set of indicators aiming to measure the nature of development or security interventions being taken to respond to issues of safety. 

2.    Best practices report on programmes to counter urban insecurity and violence

Approaches to enhance security in an urban environment in South Africa will need to draw upon innovative responses that are appropriate to the local context. The research will seek to identify best practices that can be highlighted in response to specific challenges in order to promote shared experiences and learning.  The best practices results will be consulted with external experts, and measured against international best practice in order to provide a useful synthesis report on strategies and programme to respond to urban insecurity and violence.

3.    One multi-dimensional motivational case study

One of the city case studies will be expounded in greater depth.  This case study will demonstrate how a project within a city where a multi-pronged approach focusing on addressing the cross-cutting social, economic, political and physical environmental causes of crime has been adopted with relative success.   

4.    Baseline study on urban safety, violence and crime incidents in SACN member cities

The baseline study will reflect the state of safety in SACN member cities. The data collection for the baseline assessment will be drawn from the Indicators Guide to develop a framework of metrics to measure the current state of safety in SACN member cities. A standardised guide for data collection will be provided and will allow for the data collected to be broadly comparable across all the cities of study. This data will be collected by working with a range of governmental and non-governmental actors at the community level. Data available for all the cities will be reviewed in order to compare and contrast overall developments across major urban areas and eventually be consolidated into a single report describing the current situation and prevailing trends in urban insecurity, violence and crime in the 8 selected South African cities, for inclusion in the “State of SACN cities” report.

 

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