Western Cape Government and the City Join Forces to Improve School Safety
The City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government are committed to working together to create secure environments in which teaching and learning can take place without fear or disruption.
In line with this commitment, we are pleased to announce the launch of a pilot project that will see School Resource Officers being introduced to a selection of schools within the Cape Town Metropole.
A School Resource Officer (SRO) is a sworn Metro Police officer assigned to a school on a long-term basis.
Funded by the City of Cape Town and aligned to the programmes of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and the Department of Community Safety, the SRO Pilot Project aims to build safer school environments and safer communities by having a dedicated person to coordinate and improve on existing school safety initiatives. We do not intend to militarise the way in which schools run and are protected.
By forging effective partnerships between participating schools and the communities in which they operate, the SRO Pilot Project aims to supplement existing school safety programmes.
Each SRO will be responsible for working with the principal, school safety committee, learner support staff, school safety volunteers, departmental officials and all other role players at or assigned to their school to identify and address the underlying problems which may lead to disorder, ill-discipline and crime, and implement strategies to overcome these problems to make schools and their immediate surroundings safer.
We will be working together to select and train appropriately qualified and skilled Metro Police officers who are equipped to provide the following support to participating schools, as well as their staff, learners, parent groups and the communities in which they operate:
- Providing law enforcement services to participating schools and areas adjacent to these schools.
- Providing relevant advice and support to school staff, school safety committees, school safety fieldworkers and school district coordinators.
- Developing and implementing school-based crime prevention programmes and programmes that promote good behaviour and social cohesion within the school environment.
- Improving the readiness of schools to deal with emergency situations.
- Assisting schools with the early identification of illegal activities involving youth at risk.
- Creating networking opportunities that promote community involvement in school safety initiatives.
- Providing supervised after-school activities for learners on school and community safety-related topics.
We are in the process of selecting and training SROs who we believe can provide this support and be visible role models accessible to the school communities they will serve. The SROs are being selected in accordance with the directives and selection processes of the City of Cape Town and in consultation with the WCED.
Once selected, the SROs will be employed by and will remain under the control of the City of Cape Town. The SROs will work with and provide support to school staff but will not control, influence or interfere in matters of curriculum delivery and school discipline nor will they act as school counsellors or educators. They will be resources to schools that will be dedicated to improving the safety and security of the environments in which learning and teaching can take place.
Working with the Western Cape Government, the City of Cape Town hopes to build a positive relationship between the Metro Police and the youth in the Cape Town metropole so that school-related violence and crime can be reduced and prevented. We believe that this project will also help to build better community-police relations.
To give effect to this initiative, the Safety and Security Directorate of the City of Cape Town and the WCED have entered into a memorandum of understanding to define their respective roles in the SRO Pilot Project.
The SRO Pilot Project has been aligned to the strategy of the WCED's Safe Schools Programme which focuses on:
- Crime control by modifying and enhancing school environments.
- Crime prevention by changing the attitudes and behaviour of learners and school staff.
- Systems programmes by developing effective partnerships between schools, the communities in which they operate and other role players.
During the pilot project, the SROs will ensure that all incidents of school crime are reported to the WCED's Safe Schools Call Centre and will assist their schools in protecting teaching and learning time.
The SRO Pilot Project has also been developed in consultation with the Department of Community Safety to ensure that synergies are created and maximised between participating schools, the WCED, the SROs and school safety volunteers provided by the Department of Community Safety.
We are also pleased and grateful to have the advice, support and expertise of the US-based National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) who are currently working with the project team over the course of this week and next week to share their expertise and to develop our SRO Pilot Project, including the training of SROs and the development of an information management system. We look forward to seeing our SROs completing a week of training with NASRO and will release more details about the training programme next week.
The first phase of the SRO Pilot Project will commence in January 2013 for a period of 12 months with six participating schools from the Cape Town metropole. A SRO will be allocated to each of the participating schools in the first school term next year.
The participating schools have been selected from different parts of the Cape Town metropole by the WCED in consultation with the City of Cape Town and the Department of Community Safety following a careful analysis of crime statistics and school safety needs.
The following schools will participate in the first phase of the SRO Pilot Project:
- Chrystal High School (Hanover Park).
- Phoenix High School (Manenberg).
- Bishop Lavis High School (Bishop Lavis).
- Lotus High School (Lotus River).
- Sizimisele High School (Khayelitsha).
- Oscar Mpetha High School (Nyanga).
The City of Cape Town will be responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the pilot project, as well as the conduct of SROs they employ.
School principals and their management teams will remain responsible for the operation and management of their schools but will have oversight over the SROs in all matters relating to learner and staff safety.
The City of Cape Town and the WCED's Safe Schools division will meet on a monthly basis for the duration of the pilot project to monitor the implementation of the project and to ensure that this initiative has the best chance possible of succeeding.
At the end of 2013, the City of Cape Town and the WCED will evaluate the first phase of the pilot project, make the necessary changes and extend the pilot project in its final phase to four more schools.
At the end of the final phase of the pilot project, we will review the successes and challenges of the pilot project and decide whether and how to continue and expand the scope of the project.
The City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government look forward to working better together to improve the environments within which teaching and learning take place so that our learners may have better opportunities to receive a quality education than before.