Amid a rise in crime, the City of Cape Town has deployed 100 Law Enforcement officers to make the city centre a safer space.
The launch on Wednesday August 24 took place outside the new Emergency Police Incident Control (EPIC) room in Buitengracht Street.
The EPIC control room, which is a pilot project, is an information sharing centre which houses all the security departments, including Traffic, Law Enforcement, Metro police, the Central City Improvement District (CCID), and SAPS.
The centre uses technology such as security cameras, real-time screening and digital information and data sharing.
There is also a control room and dispatch centre, which will dispatch authorities to a scene where they are needed.
At the launch, Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said there was an increase in robbery, assault and aggravated robbery.
According to statistics recorded by the City, in the last quarter, from April to June 2022, common robbery had increased by 61.4% when compared to last year during the same period.
Robbery with aggravating circumstances increased by 87.5%, and assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm increased by 21% for the same periods.
“For this reason, we have been training people to get ready to deploy this staff.”
He said Law Enforcement officers were deployed on July 1, and have since received additional training to gear up for the deployment in the city centre.
“It’s not viable to turn our back on the CBD. It is the centre of our city and it’s a tourist attraction and brings events to Cape Town. We cannot let it deteriorate with these statistics.”
He said while it was important to have boots on the ground, it was not enough to keep up with the crime patterns, and the EPIC centre was piloted for this purpose.
“This is using all of the resources we have more effectively.
“In an ever-changing world, the combination of a physical policing presence and force multipliers like improved technology and full exploitation of the data and analyses that come with that technology becomes critical.”
He said they will use the lessons from this pilot to replicate the project city-wide in the future.
He said areas in the wider city where violent crimes are rife had also received a deployment of 1000 additional Law Enforcement officers.
Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the City wanted the CBD to be a place where everyone can feel safe walking to and from the bus stop or the train station, and where women feel safe visiting restaurants and bars at night.
“The rise in petty and violent crime in the CBD has left people feeling vulnerable. That is why we took the decision to budget for an unprecedented Law Enforcement deployment of 100 new officers to the CBD alone.”
The City has allocated a record R5.4 bn safety budget this financial year.
The deployment and the EPIC centre was welcomed by security role-players in the area.
CCID security manager Muneed Hendricks said the deployment is going to make a huge difference as Law Enforcement officers complement the crime-prevention efforts of the CCID and SAPS that are already in place.
About the EPIC room, he said: “This is a great initiative. All crime prevention agencies are more effective if they collaborate and work together.
“It will allow us to work smarter, not harder by harnessing technology to manage and dispatch our resources where they are needed the most in the shortest possible response time.”
He said it will also eliminate the duplication of law enforcement.
Nicola Jowell, ward councillor for parts of the city centre and Green Point, said the project was encouraging.
“The deployment will be to the CBD and surrounding areas linked to the inner city such as the Atlantic seaboard.”
She said while the city centre was showing significant positive strides, it was known that once there is increased deployment in one area, the crime does disperse and hence the importance of also deploying these resources into the surrounding areas.
Ward councillor for the city centre Ian MacMohan also welcomed the initiative, and reiterated the concern of dispersed crime in neighbouring areas. He added that there was a plan in the pipeline to address it.
SAPS had also welcomed the initiative and the partnership to reduce crime in the city centre.