Communities and Justice Programme
Empowering our communities
The Safer South Africa Foundation’s ‘Communities and Justice Programme’ is designed to create an expansion of the efforts by the police and criminal justice practitioners, to foster the trust and confidence of communities and empower practitioners within the various criminal justice institutions to be able to adequately perform their role in society. Many individuals within the community have little understanding of the roles and functions of the Police, Courts and Correctional Services. These programmes are intended to open the lines of communication between the Community and the various criminal justice institutions thereby overcoming issues of trust, through education and collaboration, between the police and the community.
To the average person, it may frequently appear that the police are not doing their job or are exceeding their boundaries. By allowing community members a firsthand look at what rules, regulations and policies the police follow, some of the misunderstanding may be alleviated.
The objective of the ‘Communities and Justice Programme’ is not to train an individual to be a “Reserve Police Officer” but to produce informed and empowered members of the community. The community, correctional officers, police officers and attorneys/advocates meet each other face to face in a neutral, friendly community setting and each becomes a person to the other. In the past, community members have simply seen a uniform or a suit and tie, but now they have an understanding about the person behind the uniform.
The goal of the ‘Communities and Justice Programme’
The goal of the Communities and Justice Programme is to promote a better relationship between practitioners within the criminal justice system and the community it serves and to foster a clearer understanding of how each practitioner discharges their duties. Most importantly, confidence and understanding of the various institutions will enable community members to engage with and hold the service providers to account. It will also provide community members with a unique insight into the workings of the criminal justice system by enabling them to meet and hear from (in a structured programme) a range of practitioners, including police, correctional service officers, attorneys and others.
The ‘Communities and Justice Programme’ is not being held to train citizens as police officers, correctional service officers or to exercise police authority of any kind.
What will community members gain from the programme?
The programme instructors/facilitators are comprised of police officers, correctional officers, attorneys, magistrates/judges, civilian police staff members, NGO staff and academics. The programme will be professionally structured and officers will present course modules in a ‘classroom’ setting, describing for example the role of policing a modern society, and will be available to field any questions that arise from the ‘classroom’ instruction. The ‘classes’ will also survey the basics of the work of correctional services including the parole board and provide an overview of how the various departments interface with the rest of the criminal justice system.
In the latter stages of the programme a ‘mock trial’ using members of the community/young learners and attorneys will provide the community members/young learners on the programme with an insight into the workings of the criminal court system.
The ‘Communities and Justice Programme’ can be delivered over a time-period appropriate to the audience.
The final module of the programme will include a graduation ceremony where certificates will be presented by a senior police officer or senior member of the criminal justice system. There is no fee for attending the Community and Justice Programme.