TOP policing chiefs swapped their native South Africa for the cobbles of a historic city market place.
Six senior members of staff from Gauteng Police Service and its local authority’s community safety department visited Durham on a tour of police forces in the UK.
They were especially keen to study how police in other countries engage with their local communities, and their visit to Durham included an event where they met the team behind its Safe City project.
Gauteng is the smallest of South Africa’s nine provinces and includes the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg but has the fastest-growing population.
The delegation, which spent two days in the county, included four high-ranking officers from the South African Police Service, three of whom served as operational commanders at the 2010 World Cup.
Their trip also took in police projects in London and Merseyside.
Inspector Paul Anderson, who leads the city’s neighbourhood policing team, said: “They were looking to adopt neighbourhood-style policing themselves and wanted to know how we engage with our community.
“They have 132 police stations in their province, but their communities are extending out, so they’re looking at mobile police stations.
“They took some ideas from us and we took some from them.”
The visit came about after the South Africans saw coverage of the Safe City campaign online.
It was launched last year in a bid to make Durham the safest city in the UK and has already seen a number of initiatives put in place to tackle issues including shoplifting, underage drinking and petty crime.
Among the ideas discussed by the two teams was a know your neighbour programme, run in South Africa, which would encourage people to reach out to their nearest residents to boost links in the community and help cut the risk of crime.