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TUESDAY 3 February 2015 | 0021 910 6500 | Fax: 021 910 6501/06 | Email: [email protected] | Website: www.peoplespost.co.za TELLING IT AS IT IS LANSDOWNE 41 Induland Cres. Lansdowne Ind. Supplier of a wide range of disposable packaging Tel: 021 691 8811 E-mail: [email protected] Free delivery Conditions apply Since 1998 • All types of Paper, Plastic bags • Cake, Pizza, Party boxes • Serviettes, Garage, Toilet rolls • Cling, Bubble, Lunch wrap • Cutlery, Straws, Heatsealers • Cups, Tubs, Lids • Fomo Trays, Plates • Foil Trays, Rolls • Platters, Domes • Detergents, etc Valid till end of Feb’ 2015 WhatsApp, Zello, Facebook and Twitter are some of the social media applications modern crimefighters are using to curb the crime scourge. This is an illustration. PHOTO: SAMANTHA LEE SOCIAL MEDIA War on crime is online SAMANTHA LEE @Samantha_Lee121 A pplications and social media sites have modernised and simplified the way people communicate with one another. And with easy access, thanks to the smart phone revolution, it has also been an effec- tive crime fighting tool, say locals. With the success of many chatrooms and groups, neighbourhood watches, subfo- rums, sector committees and the communi- ty police forum are using the platform to spread the word. Two groups with successful sites are the Groenvlei Community Watch in Lansdowne and the Lanroe Neighbourhood Watch. Last year, Groenvlei Community Watch chairperson Riyaahd Kearns said they start- ed the watch to assist police in fighting crime (“We name and shame”, People’s Post, 9 September). “We know there is a shortage of manpower at the station and because of the increase in crime we felt it was time to set up a neigh- bourhood watch in our area as well,” said Kearns. With their closed Facebook group gaining much popularity in the community, the group name and shame criminals who are caught in the act. “We are aware we cannot legally release any images to the media or police until the suspects have been found guilty of a crime and although we can’t distribute the pic- tures we take them as a record. “Also we shame them in that they know we caught them and their pictures are on record somewhere. Most importantly, we use it as a platform to inform residents what to look out for and who to keep an eye on,” he said. Another successful social media group is the Lanroe Neighbourhood Watch What- sApp group. The group includes all residents from the area and is used as a tip-off line to alert watch members of suspicious activity and crime in the area. Group administrator Hylton Mitchell says the group has made a positive impact on crime in the area thus far and hopes to grow the network in neighbouring areas. Watch chairperson Adam Fisher could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print. Lansdowne Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson Mike Kabat says he sup- ports the use of these platforms but warns residents to be careful of whom they trust. “We do get information a lot quicker with the use of social media but there is a down side to that as well. We have many groups putting out information without verifying it. When unsubstantiated information is put out there, it causes unnecessary paranoia in the community. There are many social me- dia groups which use unreliable informa- tion. This is not a good idea. These groups must also not accept everyone into their groups because they could be using the in- formation for the wrong reasons,” Kabat points out. Kenwyn Ratepayers’ Association chair- person and former provincial CPF board chairperson Hanif Loonat agrees. “It is a good idea to use social media to fight crime. However, this should not be used to discuss crime combating routines. Criminals also use social media and they can see your plans and use this information against you,” he says. Kabat says the CPF has been in discussion about their use of social media. “We support the neighbourhood watches and street committees making use of these platforms. But the information that is dis- tributed must come from a reliable source,” Kabat reiterates. “I am included in 12 of these social media groups and I would like to see these adminis- trations exercise more control over what is shared. When residents get involved in dis- cussing crimes in detail, especially when they are not mandated to do so, they can jeopardise investigations. This is especially true in the distribution of pictures of some- one in custody. Defence lawyers can use this against the police,” he says. Loonat suggests these groups use the chat- rooms more thoughtfully. “These groups can be used to better the lives of your neighbours by discussing trends and tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime. This platform should be used to educate residents but should not be abused and used to create fear,” he says. Last year, 12 new neighbourhood watches have been formed with the majority of them making use of social media.