JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CRIMESTOPPERS INTERNATIONAL (CSI) AND PRIMEDIA’S CRIME LINE
South Africa has become the first country on the African continent to be awarded a seat on the board of directors of Crime Stoppers International (CSI) following the success of Primedia’s Crime Line SMS tip-off service.
The announcement was made at the end of a week long visit to South Africa by a senior CSI delegation headed by its vice-president, Michael Gordon-Gibson.
“We invited representatives from Crime Line and the South African Police Services (SAPS) to sit on their board of directors. Crime Line head, Yusuf Abramjee, and SAPS representatives Assistant Commissioner, Vinesh Moonoo, and Senior Superintendent, Attie Lamprecht from Detective Services Headquarters in Pretoria have accepted our invitation,” said Gordon-Gibson.
Abramjee said he was “delighted to be given the opportunity to serve on the board. I’m certain that South Africa will be able to make a positive contribution to the international body by sharing our experiences and also learning from them.”
CSI is active in 1200 countries around the world. “We have also agreed that South African will lead the way and work to establish Africa as a formal Crime Stoppers region.
“It is clear to CSI that following the magnificent success of Crime Line in South Africa that the Crime Stoppers concept can be extended to other countries in Africa with both parties working together to help make Africa a safer place for all communities,” said Gordon-Gibson.
Acting CEO of Primedia, Kuben Pillay said the awarding of a seat to South Africa “is yet another indication that Crime Line is making an impact both locally, and
globally and we are delighted.” Primedia has invested millions of rands into the campaign as part of its corporate social investment programme.
Crime Line was launched in June 2007. 560 arrests for various crimes have been made so far and R24-million of seizures have been recorded. The anonymous 32211 SMS service and www.crimeline.co.za has the support of government, the South African Police Service, various companies, media organisations and NGO’s. A number of organised crime syndicates have been broken following tip-offs to Crime Line.
Gordon-Gibson explained: “We have a representative from Interpol sitting on our international board and our South African counterparts will now have an opportunity to interact on the world stage. I was most impressed to see Crime Line and the SAPS trying to track down Gauteng’s most wanted in a media campaign last week. The public must assist.”
“I met Yusuf last year at our annual conference in Bermuda, and we were all very impressed by Crime Line’s successes. My role in Crime Stoppers is to facilitate global expansion, so countries that don’t have Crime Stoppers but want to start the service, come to me.
“In the last year there’s been significant interest from the African continent. So, I going to rely heavily on South African representatives to guide me and help me make recommendations to these countries. I have to use the expertise and the good work that’s already in place here to expand throughout Africa. I won’t be the one driving the expansion; it will be lead by South Africa,” said Gordon-Gibson.
“Crime Line works well. The figures speak for themselves. I also think it’s important that Crime Line is run by a private organisation like Primedia because they’re totally independent from the police. You have a very strong partnership with the SAPS, but you’re trusted by your communities and people do trust the media platforms…This is very powerful.
“We at Crime Stoppers International have already made a paradigm shift, thanks to South Africa’s Crime Line. Before, Crimestoppers was tied to the telephone, but Crime Line has shown us the value of using the media-of-choice: an sms. It’s been incredibly effective in getting information through to law enforcement in South Africa and that was where the intelligence gap was for us in the UK and elsewhere. We were hearing from older people who used telephones, but hadn’t tapped the youth until we started using secure online reporting and safe smses. This has opened up a huge demographic to the police, who are supplying information that they’ve never had before,” said Gordon-Gibson.
Other countries which how followed South Africa’s example include the US, Canada, parts of Europe and Australia. The Middle East and India are expected to start shortly
The CSI vice-president added: “The philosophy has always been that this partnership (which we’re now extending by giving SA a permanent seat on the CSI board) must be mutually beneficial to both parties. Crime Line has said they have a lot to learn from CSI philosophies and principles and in return, the way Crime Line is leading the way in utilising the sms-culture will benefit the CSI countries and offices that are starting to adopt this.
“CSI is there to support law enforcement: not to compete with or to replace, but to support. It’s another avenue to get communication through to the police, and I think the creative use of technology can only benefit this process.
“Global partnerships like ours are essential moving forward: organised crime knows no boundaries and law enforcement must get away from parochial outlook where police don’t look or act outside their area. Integration between regional and international crime-fighting organisations is crucial if we hope to tackle global crime syndicates.
Abramjee concluded: “For Crime Line it’s an honour to be invited to sit on the international board of CSI. We believe it’s great that South Africa has been recognised as a leader in this sms technology, and the CSI board is a terrific platform to spread these ideas to our neighbouring countries, the rest of the continent and the world.”
South Africa will take up its seat at the next CSI board meeting in Canada next year.
Crime Line has received a number of accolades since its launch. The Security Association of South Africa and NGO Matla a Bana are amongst the organisations that have presented awards to Crime Line. At Crime Line’s first anniversary in June this year, SAPS top management presented an award to Abramjee for his role in combating crime. Last year, the South African cabinet praised Primedia for the initiative.