Communities produce safety; Police deal with crime. (A Singapore Story)

By Phua Chun Yat.

Terrence, a security supervisor, lives in an economically isolated neighbourhood in Singapore with his family. He has an eight-year-old boy who enjoys playing at the void deck (an open space in the high rise block with lots of blind spots, that are hard to monitor and where a lot of antisocial behavior takes place) with other neighbors in the evening. Several times when the children were playing, some other teenagers would approach them and demand money from them. One of the children decided to call the police, but they only arrived after he was beaten up for calling. As a result, Terrence’s son and the other kids were apprehensive about playing at the void deck again.

Terrence was concerned as the children now had nowhere to play and would stay home to watch TV or play computer games. He decided to ask the parents of the other children to become community patrollers to make sure that their block was safe while the children were playing – and even when they were not.

Terrence managed to organize a team of 4 people who would do twice weekly rounds of patrolling; ensuring that the stairways were not hotbeds of illegal activities. He also shared with them the skills of patrolling which he was familiar with as a security supervisor.

With the heightened surveillance of these 4 people, the bullying and extortion never occurred again. At the same time, there were fewer known occurrences of drug-taking and other illegal activity on the stairways.

What started out as a desire for his son to play safely in the void deck has become a neighborhood’s desire to be safe and secure. Terrence’s team grew from 4 to 6 and they are continuing to patrol regularly.

From this experience we learned that:
1) The community will mobilize its resources, assets and gifts when they see something they value compromised;
2) What started as a small act of protecting his son was amplified to become a community safety endeavor when neighbours joined in association.
3) communities produce safety; police respond to crime.


With thanks to our guest blogger: Phua Chun Yat (Senior Manager) AMKFSC Community Services Ltd, Singapore. Chun Yat has been a strong promoter of ABCD in Singapore since 2013.


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