“I don’t know about you, but I do know what I want for the community I live in. I want to know my neighbours are looking out for my wellbeing, because they know I will be looking out for theirs. This doesn’t mean I have to like my neighbour, some people just aren’t that likeable! But what is does mean is I know when my safety may be at risk I can count on my neighbour, likeable or otherwise, to assist me. There’s no rocket science here, it’s just the simple, practical application of the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That’s community safety.”
– Dr. Geoff Dean
We live in fast-paced, information-rich, digitally-connected world where many opportunities exist to do community and personal harm.
There are, unfortunately, those among us who are prepared to use deceit, manipulation, exploitation, bullying, harassment, abuse and violence to get what they want to satisfy their perverse needs, excessive greed, or extremist ideology.
The safety of the community cannot be left solely to police and security agencies. There will never be enough police and security officers where they need to be when they need to be there. In fact, police and security rely on quality information from the community. It is the community that occupies the streets, shopping centres, parks, bikeways and beaches that can be trained to be alert to potential everyday risks and possible threats that cause severely harm – emotionally, psychologically, or physically – or even potentially kill innocent people, who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Governments must lead the way in supporting community safety enterprises like the SAVE network in order to avoid the potential risk of vigilante-style groups popping up in the community to take matters into their own hands.
This is a current reality and an emerging risk trend in many Western democracies where alarmingly normal citizens become engaged in sectarian hate groups against others they perceive as threats to their community.
Community safety is a key priority for all levels of Government in Australia, especially when major public events occur, such as the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
One potential way Governments can harness and steer community fear and anxiety about fear of crime and terrorism threats, in a proactive and productive manner, is through providing small scale start-up training funds for grassroots ‘community safety cluster’ groups registered with SAVE network.
Governments, corporations, businesses and services have a legal duty of care to foster safe and secure community governance to protect everyone from harmful risks within their sphere of influence in civil society. Harmful risks include regular and random risks.
Regular risks are risks that are likely to occur every day at public spaces and at major public events. These risks are mainly criminal activities such as robbery (identity theft through pick-pocketing of credit cards); cyber scams (online frauds); personal assaults (fights due to excessive alcohol or drug-fueled rage, one-punch attacks) and personal violence (sexual violence, partner violence, and sexual harassment).
Random risks are risks that occur less frequently but are often more catastrophic in terms of personal harm and the reputational damage to a community. They include random acts of violence that can range from soft targets like convenience stores and petrol stations to driving a car/ truck at pedestrians, knife stabbing in a street, park or crowded space, activist’s protests that turns violent, to extremists placing home-made bombs.