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Crime is everyone's problem

In 2006, 702's John Robbie called on members of the public to pass on tip-offs about known drug dealers or manufacturers in their community. In turn, the station would pass on these tip-offs to police to act on.

The station received hundreds of SMSs, which led to scores of arrests and the seizure of contraband.

This call to action would become the pilot for Crime Line, which was launched a year later in June 2007.

Now seven years later, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Crime Line's custodian, Primedia, have heralded in a new chapter in our partnership.

The partnership has grown over the years and it is imperative for us to strengthen and nurture our working relationship for the benefit of the people of South Africa.

We salute the SAPS team and their commitment to this vision that started with the signing of a new memorandum of understanding earlier this month.

The role of public/private partnerships continue to lead the way in ensuring safer and empowered communities.

How often do you hear the phrase "police acted on a tip-off" in news headlines these days?

The answer is… very often!

The relationship between the public and police is and should be natural.

Police need communities to be their eyes and ears, while we need the police to act on our information and put criminals behind bars.

This model is being used successfully all over the world, but it is without a doubt South Africa that is leading the way. We are planning to take this model to all parts of our continent.

We were first in the world to utilise SMS technology in the fight against crime and our successes and projects continue to impress the international crime stoppers community.

We should continue to build on this reputation of working together as law enforcement, the media, business leaders and the public to achieve our common goals.

In partnership with MEC Panyaza Lesufi and the Gauteng Education Department, we will continue to grow the Young CrimeLiners programme and encourage our children to blow the whistle on crime. We will continue to work with law enforcement to clean-up our schools.

We are now a few days away from the 35th Annual Crime Stoppers International Conference. The conference is being hosted in Africa for the very first time and we are honoured it is in South Africa.

Crime Stoppers is an international body active in more than 26 countries around the world through programmes that are driven by anonymous tip-offs passed on to law enforcement.

They effectively bring together the public, the police and the media to fight crime.

In fact, its programmes solve a crime every 14 minutes somewhere in the world.

Every year they host a training conference to bring the global crime-fighting community together to network, learn, debate and ultimately take advancements and innovations back to their respective countries.

We always wanted to bring the conference here, not as a talk shop, but an opportunity to learn and impart innovations that are used successfully elsewhere in the world.

The theme of the conference is 'It's Time' and by extension, I believe it's also the time of the whistleblower.

Any person who acts on his or her conscience and imparts information of wrongdoing to a relevant authority is a whistleblower.

As much as it is the civil and moral duty of people to blow the whistle on crime, law enforcement and the judicial system have a greater duty to protect whistleblowers.

Crime Line, our partners from the police's Crime Stop and indeed Crime Stoppers International are bodies that are driven by the protection of whistleblowers.

We offer a multi-platform solution for members of the public to expose wrongdoing without having to reveal their identities or expose themselves to retribution. Anonymity is key.

The conference will cover a variety of issues including human trafficking, drug trafficking, crimes against women and children, financial crime, intellectual property theft, cyber crime, environmental crime, motor-vehicle theft and corruption.

It is no secret that criminals are brazen and have no respect for life or property.

They are also innovative and masters at evading justice.

It's time for us to get ahead of the curve.

We deal with highly organised groups that are not confined by bureaucracy, red tape or the law.

We need to beat them at their own game.

The answer is not anarchy, nor the so-called kangaroo courts or we have often witnessed.

Anarchy breeds more anarchy. It is not a sustainable solution.

Instead, we need to become more organised to match organised crime.

We cannot work in silos.

The police cannot be everywhere.

This is why business, the media, non-governmental organisations and civil society are critical components in this organised effort we desperately need to achieve.

Crime has no borders. It doesn't discriminate.

It's everywhere. It's your problem, it's my problem.

Let's all work together and create a safer South Africa.

Yusuf Abramjee is head of Crime Line, a Lead SA activist and chairman of the 2014 conference. Follow him on Twitter: @Abramjee

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