Using PGIS to Conduct Community Safety Audits

Gerbrand G. Mans

Abstract

Crime is one of the major factors influencing the quality of life of all South Africans and it is therefore a priority to reduce it. To reduce crime, crime prevention is important. Crime prevention is where the focus shifts from the traditional way of the police fighting crime, to the active participation of the community in preventing crime. Doing a safety audit is the first step in implementing a local crime prevention strategy.

The hypothesis of this paper is that using Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) is a very competent method for conducting safety audits. The hypothesis will further be developed by looking at the importance of community participation and the spatial aspect of crime when conducting safety audits. Attention will also be given to the best methods and tools to be used when conducting these audits. To conclude, the effectiveness of the use of PGIS will be discussed utilizing results from a case study.

Preliminary results indicate that PGIS is very efficient in this context. Firstly, participation allows the community to take ownership of the local crime prevention strategy. Secondly, because the spatial component of the information is not lost, crime prevention hot spots can be identified. Accompanying GIS systems allow different datasets to be integrated. This provides a platform for collaborative planning between the community and local authorities. Methods applied involve integrating the P-Index technique with existing PGIS techniques to facilitate participation. Useful tools in the process of linking PGIS and Spatial analyses of crime hotspots were aerial photographs and the Schutte Scale.

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