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In the last five months, nearly 250 young people have participated in what has become one of the Metro Police Department’s most established social crime prevention initiatives. Read more below:

The curtain recently fell on yet another year of successful Metro Police youth camps, when the Department hosted 41 young people from Macassar Secondary and the Cafda School of Skills last weekend.

The group brought to nearly 250 the number of learners who have attended the camps since July. The City of Cape Town hopes that, by the end of June 2017, it will have surpassed the previous financial year’s total of 600 participants.

The youth camp programme was first pitched in 2013 as part of the Metro Police Department’s social crime prevention interventions. The Department devises and funds the programme and the Western Cape Education Department identifies schools to participate.The camps focus on life skills and leadership, with group engagement on a range of topics that come up for discussion including ethics, peer pressure, bullying, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, gangsterism and active citizenship. Physical activity and demonstrations by the Metro Police K9 and Equestrian Units have also become firm favourites on the itinerary.

‘These camps are about providing a change of scenery, away from the often bleak reality that many of our young people face every day, and challenging them to start thinking differently about their relationship with law enforcement and those around them. We’ve seen some really troubled individuals for whom the camp was the penny that finally dropped and who left with a completely different world view and attitude. Some of them have become leaders in our youth cadet programme and I am immensely proud of them, but also of our dedicated staff who make these camps happen,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

In the last 18 months, the Metro Police Department has spent just over R1,2 million on the camps which have also become a recruitment tool for the department’s youth cadets. Learners who showed the most improvement in behaviour and discipline after attending the camps were selected to register as youth cadets. The cadet programme started with a first intake of 32 members and has subsequently grown to 125 cadets.

The cadet programme aims to help its members become active community leaders by instilling a sense of social responsibility and working in partnership with the Metro Police Department and other law enforcement agencies to fight crime and keep the city safe. Cadets are eligible to wear the uniform, go out on public duty (under supervision), and receive membership award certificates.

Earlier this year, the Metro Police Department facilitated driving lessons and access to other training interventions and potential bursaries for 27 cadets who were in matric or had already completed their schooling.

‘The cadets are proof of how seriously we view youth development. This programme is also proof how a weekend away from home at a camp can pave the way for potentially life-changing opportunities. We often hear about a lack of opportunities for young people. I think the Metro Police Department has achieved two things with this programme. Not only are they providing tangible opportunities for young people, but they are also deconstructing the myth that law enforcement and social development can’t go hand in hand,’ added Alderman JP Smith.

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