Media Statement - New Groundbreaking Partnership to Reduce Crime and Drug Abuse in the Helderberg Area
Today, the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town officially launched a new crime and drug reduction partnership project in the Helderberg area. It is a new, groundbreaking model of multi-service drug treatment and outreach centre called Community Awareness, Rehabilitation and Education Services or CARES centres. The Helderberg CARES centre is the first of its kind to be established in the province.
In May, the provincial government launched its strategic plan to combat substance abuse in the Western Cape. This plan is the most comprehensive policy response of its kind in the country. It is being driven by the Premier's Office and implemented across provincial departments in an integrated way. The launch of this partnership and the establishment of the CARES centre are the latest outcomes of this plan.
SAPS Crime statistics reveal that cases of drug related crime has increased at an alarming rate in the Helderberg area:
- The Somerset West Police Station:
67 cases of drug related crime in 2004 increased to 264 in 2010
- Strand police station: 162 to 468
- Macassar police station: 93 to 227
- Delft police station: 320 to 1086
It is clear that the current alcohol and drug programmes in the Helderberg region are not working. That is why the Office of the Premier, in partnership with the Department of Social Development and the City of Cape Town, has launched this new partnership and CARES centre in Helderberg.
The CARES centre will offer a range of services to the community including outpatient drug treatment programmes, patient screening, assessment, brief interventions, education outreach, liaison and follow-up services.
What is groundbreaking about the CARES approach is the ethos of 'affirmative outreach work'. Outreach workers permanently based at the centre will actively identify people who need assistance in the surrounding community, and will bring them into the treatment or other programmes run at the centre. Outreach workers will also help keep people in the programme by following up, and, if necessary, bringing people back to the centre for treatment. They will work in close collaboration with local NGOs, community based organisations, the police, health services, magistrates, prosecutors and other stakeholders.
The outpatient services offered by the centre are also in line with our government's shift in approach to the provision of outpatient treatment programmes, strengthening prevention initiatives, providing more aftercare services and creating a continuous 'treatment track'.
Outpatient treatment programmes:
Despite the great need for treatment throughout the province, and despite the long waiting lists at some rehabilitation programmes, particularly in-patient rehabilitation centres, other programmes remain under-utilised.
This is often because patients' needs are not properly matched with the treatment they receive. Too many patients with less serious substance abuse problems are referred to costly inpatient treatment facilities. The outpatient services offered at the CARES centre will ensure patients with less serious addiction problems get into a treatment programme that is right for them. This will cost the state less so that people with chronic addiction can be prioritised.
The centre will also assist in preventing patients from developing full blown addictions. Local magistrates and prosecutors will have a place to turn when minor or first time drug-related cases enter their courts. Outreach workers will also work closely with clinics, hospitals, night shelters and schools in the area to help identify cases that need to be referred to the centre.
The centre will also ensure people get follow-up support after receiving their initial treatment. This is in line with our substance abuse strategy, which aims to reduce the high rate of relapse cases by increasing aftercare services, which are currently non-existent in our province.
The centre will also assist us in creating a continuous 'treatment track' by monitoring discharged patients and bringing them back to the centre where necessary, to minimise relapses.
Lastly, the multi-service approach of the centre is also designed to avoid people 'falling through the cracks' between services. Instead of being screened at one place, and referred for treatment at another, and then getting follow-up support somewhere else, this centre is a 'one-stop shop'. Maximising the time and consistency with which a recovering person is engaged with appropriate services is a key success factor for effective rehabilitation.
We are confident that the CARES centre in Helderberg will make a valuable contribution towards preventing many citizens, particularly our youth, from entering a life of substance abuse and crime.
However, we cannot fight the war on alcohol and drugs alone. The reality is that drug abuse is very much a symptom of the collapse of families and communities. If we are to run the tide on substance abuse, every citizen must play their part and take personal responsibility for the lifestyle choices they make.