Yesterday, December 16, 2017, the police and members of Sarawak Community Policing Association conducted a community policing walk around a hypermarket in Batu Kawa, Kuching. The key objective was to create awareness among members of the public of the strategies that they could adopt to prevent a crime from taking place.

“Prevention is better than cure”, “United against crime”, “Our community, our responsibility” are the usual words we use in crime prevention. We are encouraging everyone to join forces to take precautions so that possible thefts will not occur.

Today’s article will highlight the concept of community policing where the police and community work as a team in crime prevention. Most of the facts are from my research for my PhD thesis and my experience in Sarawak Community Policing Association.

What is community policing? Community policing is, in essence, a collaboration between the police and the community that identifies and solves community problems. With the police no longer the sole guardians of law and order, all members of the community become active allies in the effort to enhance the safety and quality of neighbourhoods.

Community policing has farreaching implications, namely, the expanded outlook on crime control and prevention, the new emphasis on making community members active participants in the process of problem solving and the MPV patrol officers’ pivotal role in community safety. The neighbourhood patrol officers, backed by the police organisation, help community members to mobilise support and resources to solve problems and enhance their quality of life.

Community members voice their concerns, contribute advice and take actions to address these concerns. Creating a constructive partnership will require the energy, creativity, understanding and patience of all involved. Reinvigorating communities Reinvigorating communities is essential if we are to deter crime and create more vital neighbourhoods. In some communities, it will take time to break down barriers of apathy and mistrust so that meaningful partnerships can be forged.

Trust is the value that underlies and links the components of community partnership and problem solving. A foundation of trust will allow police to form close relationships with the community that will produce solid achievements.

Without trust between the police and citizens, effective policing will be a concern. Foundation of successful community policing The foundations of a successful community policing strategy are the close, mutually beneficial ties between the police and community members. Community policing consists of two complementary core components – community partnership and problem solving.

To develop community partnership, the police with the community will form a quest for better crime control and prevention, and must pool their resources with those of the communi ty to address the most urgent concerns of community members. Problem solving is the process through which the specific concerns of communities are ident i f ied and through which the most appropriate remedies to abate these problems are found.

Goal of community policing The goal of community policing is to reduce crime and disorder by carefully examining the characteristics of problems in neighbourhoods and then applying appropriate problem-solving remedies. The “community” for which a patrol officer is given responsibility should be a small, welldefined geographical area. Beats should be configured in a manner that preserves, as much as possible, the unique geographical and social characteristics of neighbourhoods while still allowing efficient service. MPV patrol officers are the primary providers of police services and have the most extensive contact with the community members.

In community policing efforts,they will provide the bulk of the daily policing needs of the community and they will be assisted by immediate supervisors, other police units and appropriate government and social agencies. Effective community policing depends on optimising positive contacts between the MPV patrol officers and community members. The use of patrol cars is one of the methods of conveying police services. Police departments may supplement automobile patrols with foot, bicycle, scooter and horseback patrols as well as add “ministations” to bring the police closer to the community.

Regular community meetings and forums will provide the police and community members an opportunity to air concerns and find ways to address them. End result of community policing Fear of crime shall be reduced if the community members are to participate actively in policing. People will not act if they feel that their actions will jeopardise their safety.

Some good examples are the neighbourhoods at Hui S ing Ga rden, Ja l an Int an, Pisang West, Stapok, and BDC. Neighbourhoods come together to patrol their housing estates to prevent crime from taking place. In Kuching, there are 48 housing estates which have organised crime prevention watch groups with Sarawak Community Policing Association. In a recent survey conducted by the association, fear of crime in Kuching Police District is low when compared to five years ago. We congratulate the police for the outstanding crime prevention strategies.