City considering adding numbers to improve response time

The City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security Directorate is considering rolling out a limited 24-hour Traffic and Law Enforcement service to improve response to transgressions and by-law complaints after hours.

The Directorate will implement this after careful study of budget needed for the operation.

Currently, the Metro Police Department is the only enforcement agency within the directorate that operates on a 24-hour basis, in line with its establishment requirements.

Law Enforcement provides a limited 24-hour service through its Rapid Response Unit (RRU). However, the unit’s primary function is to oversee security at City-owned premises, including clinics and libraries, and to respond to alarm activations at these premises.

The City’s Traffic Service does not render a dedicated 24-hour service in the metro area, as operational duties cease at midnight. The department does, however, conduct special operations overnight, focusing on illegal street racing and drunk driving.

‘Crime levels and general adherence to the law continues to be of concern to us, as the enforcement statistics show week after week. When we look at the number of complaints that our enforcement agencies receive, Law Enforcement is by far the busiest, with hundreds of complaints a month including issues of vagrancy, noise nuisances and complaints relating to animals. Thus there is a need to boost our capacity, especially after hours. The alternative would be to have a much more responsive and responsible citizenry that doesn’t require the levels of policing we are forced to consider, but unfortunately that is not the case,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

A workshop in September 2014 considered the format that an expansion of the Traffic and Law Enforcement services would entail. More recently, a final report on the financial implications of such an expansion was tabled at, and endorsed by, the Safety and Security Portfolio Committee.

In terms of the proposal, 48 existing Law Enforcement staff and 26 from Traffic Services would be split into teams to cover various parts of the metropole at a cost of R6 850 000 per annum, including staffing costs, overtime contingencies, increased fuel usage, repairs and maintenance.

‘I don’t think anyone would turn down the opportunity to have 72 additional uniformed members on patrol after hours to help safeguard our city by responding to a range of by-law complaints, but also helping to maintain law and order on our roads. It will also be a welcome boost to our Metro Police Department which is spending more and more of its time and resources reacting to matters relating to gang and drug activity. I am therefore very keen to rally support for this proposal and make it a reality in the new financial year – if the budget allows,’ added Alderman Smith.