A joint crime fighting initiative between the South African Police Service, Business Against Crime South Africa and the Private Security Industry

INTRODUCTION

The South African Police Service (SAPS), Business Against Crime SA (BACSA), Security Industry Alliance (SIA) and willing participants of the Private Security Industry (PSI) have entered into a sectoral relationship and have agreed to cooperate towards the enhanced situational awareness of the SAPS using the Private Security Industry’s geographical deployment footprint for the sharing of information called the “Eyes and Ears” Initiative. The referred parties conducted a pilot implementation of the initiative in Gauteng through the Provincial Operational Command Centre (POCC).
BACKGROUND
The National Commissioner met with representatives from Business Against Crime SA (BACSA) during January 2018, requesting assistance from business on a number of issues, which included the collaboration with the Private Security Industry (PSI).

On 13 March 2018, the National Commissioner met with representatives from BACSA and representatives from the Private Security Industry. The main objective was to present the proposal to implement an Integrated Communications Platform with the South African Police Service (SAPS) towards using the ground coverage of the Private Security Industry as the “eyes and ears” to the SAPS for enhanced situational awareness. It was agreed to explore this concept further.

The “Eyes & Ears” concept was conceived and the “E² PILOT PROJECT – GAUTENG – “EYES AND EARS” INITIATIVE” concept agreement was prepared by the SAPS Management Interventions, SAPS Legal Support, BACSA and the PSI. The agreement was signed by BACSA on 15 August 2018 and by the National Commissioner during October 2018.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between SAPS and BACSA provides for an appropriate legal framework to support the cooperation with the Private Security Industry.
EYES AND EARS CONCEPT
The “Eyes and Ears” concept is premised on the fact that the PSI has a large geographical deployment footprint through its security officers, patrol and escort vehicles, tactical vehicles and air support that is in constant contact with its control centres. Their proximity to incidents, crime scenes or crime hotspots could easily provide for responsive situational information that would inform and enable the SAPS to appropriately and rapidly respond to such incidents and track suspicious persons and vehicles.

Participation of the PSI does not change its mandate and powers and participation is through non-intrusive and non-aggressive measures, falling within their legal mandate as private security and as members of society.

The “Eyes and Ears” concept is accordingly a joint crime fighting initiative whereby the PSI formally cooperates with the SAPS by relaying information directly to the Provincial Operational Command Centre (POCC) and in some instances, receiving such relevant information directly from it.

The POCC is a 24-hour operational command centre that is managed through an Extended Core Command Group (ECCG) and the Core Command Group (CCG) that is responsible to ensure total situational awareness within a specific policing area. The POCC is instituted to act as a centralized point where information/intelligence can be collated and where multi-disciplinary and interdepartmental teams can pro-actively and re-actively act on that information/intelligence. It provides centralized command and control and in essence, is a place for managing complex operations (according to priorities) and response to specific crises on national, provincial, cluster and station level.
OPERATIONAL CONCEPT
The PSI, through BACSA, has at least one representative on a 24/7 basis in the POCC. All PSI participants use the agreed Integrated Communications Platform (ICP) which uses the Push-To-Talk (HALO PTT) technology over Cellular communication network and a WhatsApp group to communicate with the PSI staff in the E² POCC.

The intention is not to replace the current radio networks of the private companies with the PTT radios. However, the participating security company may utilise any number of PTT radios. The PTT radios can be setup so that all security personnel that have PTT radios can hear transmissions from the POCC on a lookout channel, but only vetted and approved members within the company/organisation will be allowed to communicate directly with the PSI member in the POCC. Communications will be coordinated by the participating control rooms and will be managed by the specific vetted incumbents. Once a company control room gets the message on the POCC PTT radio, it will still use their existing radio network to relay messages to their members. (The PTT network can also be used by the independent private participants to request assistance from other participants and to share information between them.)

This communication line is for emergency, information sharing, life threatening situations and not to be utilised as a chat group for daily communication.

The PSI representatives then relay requests for assistance and other information to the POCC. The POCC is under no obligation to respond to incidents relayed through the PSI representatives but will escalate such information to the relevant SAPS cluster.

The POCC evaluates all information and / or intelligence obtained according to strict criteria and according to circumstances reported.

BACSA and the PSI also implemented a number of systems to enhance the situational information capacity. These systems include, but are not limited to, Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems and suspicious vehicle databases.

BACSA, the PSI and the SAPS developed and implemented a number of Standing Operating Procedures and an application process for PSI and non-PSI participants (e.g. shopping centres, emergency services, estates, etc), which have been tested and enhanced during the pilot phase.

Incidents that can be reported to the POCC include, but are not limited to:
Business robberies

  • House robberies
  • Traffic offences/li>
  • Not to be used as a general Charge Office or Crime Office

Incidents that cannot be reported to the POCC include, but are not limited to:

  • Complaints against the SAPS
  • CIT robberies
  • Hi-jackings
  • Casino Robberies
  • Associated robberies, bank followings
  • Information about suspicious activities, including house breaking, home invasion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, possession of suspected stolen property, possession of firearm, etc.; to name but a few.

PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS
Any member of the PSI, irrespective of its size or location, whether or not a member of the Private Security Alliance, may join the initiative and become part of the “Eyes and Ears Project”. It is, however, a requirement that such member of the PSI must:

  • be a member in good standing within PSIRA (letter of good standing not older than 60 days.);
  • be a CIPC registered company; and
  • provide Private Security Sector Provident Fund (PSSPF) Compliance Certificate not older than 60 days or a Valid Exemption Certificate.

Participation of non-PSI role-players from the formal sector, for example, shopping centres, emergency service providers, banking industry, casinos, telecommunication industry and estates with control rooms, will be considered.

Participation is voluntarily and at own cost. The group (members of the PSI and BACSA who already participate in the project), incurs no liability for any conduct or omissions by or on behalf of participant’s or individual’s. Responsibilities and liabilities of any participant are based on that provided for by the laws of the Republic of South Africa.

CONCLUSION
Electronic application process is available at www.bac.org.za/sign-up/ or for more information, please contact BACSA at e2@bac.org.za or call 011 883 0717.