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n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Bivariate analysis of car guard activities as a crime prevention initiative
Being part of a primary crime prevention approach, the private security industry continues to grow in size and importance. Formal criminal justice agencies are apparently incapable to satisfactorily address the issues of crime, crime prevention and fear of crime. Subsequent inadequate police protection resulting from suboptimal service delivery in the form of visible role fulfilment, necessary to create the illusion of omnipresence in the minds of prospective criminals, equally contributed towards the phenomenal growth of this industry. The strategic importance of private security in terms of the deployment of vast human and technological resources, including the presence of car guard activities in strategic public areas, makes it a formidable risk management and asset protection industry.
Formal regulation by means of the Security Industry Regulatory Authority (SIRA), which includes control over car guards, recently evoked media controversy about the viability of yet another "off-spring" of private security, amidst speculation that "vagrants" are now entering the ranks of honest, work-seeking people and pensioners. While this has lead to a "love-them-or-hate-them" situation in lieu of a much needed crime prevention strategy, the value of their presence in public parking areas lacking public police patrols, cannot be denied.
Mindful of the interplay between precipitating, attracting and precipitating factors in crime causation (Benjamin & Masters 1964), the visible presence of car guards, aimed at obliterating crime opportunities and motor vehicle theft in a rural town of KwaZulu-Natal, is a statistical reality. Functionally, car guards are perceived as friendly, helpful and courteous when dealing with the "parking" public. Carrying no firearms to safeguard motor vehicle theft from "territorial ramps" and their sense of caring for people's property, are equally credited. Car guards are, therefore, not regarded as "legal beggars", but rather as an asset in crime prevention.
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