From a hunch to a hop on board

phie From a hunch to a hop on board

A Dutch PhD student's serendipitous journey of finding and preparing a research topic on policing in Cape Town 

 By no means am I providing any (in)definitive arguments or conclusions on the topic of (community) policing in South Africa, as this post is only based on preliminary orientation. This blog is an informative post on the kickstart of my quest for a new research topic while still working on my PhD project. It aims to highlight how topic formation and fieldwork come together due to both planning and coincidences; and how I went from a hunch to a potentially relevant research project.

It started back in August 2019 when I was reading the independent opinion magazine 'De Groene Amsterdammer' whilst enjoying the sunshine of one of Amsterdam's particularly hot but rare summer days. Turning the page, my eye fell on a piece by Dutch correspondent Fred de Vries on Cape Town's gang violence of which the final sentence caught my attention: "Bonteheuwel, [with] an average of two murders per week, experienced its first victimless month in July. That success is attributed to the Neighborhood Safety Team [NST], a combination of police and local residents, who patrol on foot". With a waterflood of questions running through my mind I hopped behind my laptop and started looking for more information: Was this number correct, and how did they measure that? What is the idea behind a NST? How do they operate and why did they contribute to the drop of local murder rates?

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Chefs en directeuren, bescherm hulpverleners

bus Een man wordt opgepakt door handhavers van de GVB. Beeld Joris Van Gennip

Meer agressief gedrag tegen hulpverleners door de coronacrisis? Volgens Laura Keesman, die geweldssituaties tijdens politiewerk onderzoekt, is er juist een structureel probleem waar werkgevers al jaren onvoldoende antwoord op geven. [..]

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On ongoing fieldwork and zooming in on police experiences

website_massviolence2 Police experiences

A few days ago the Dutch police published new figures on how often police officers encountered violence in the year 2018. Several media outlets reported that violence against officers had increased to around 10.600 cases, which comes down to roughly 25 instances of violence a day. Incidents range from verbal violence (5.000 cases) to physical violence during resisting an arrest (2.600 times), followed by violent encounters during nightlife (1.400) and so forth (, 2019;, 2019). Some media outlets made the effort of talking to officers who experienced violence to share their story. In this blog I want to highlight that police officers experience are an absolute must to understand these new figures on violence. [..]

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Violence and the police, why do we need more research on this?

Police teams Violence and the police

"Man died after incident with the police in Waddinxveen [small-town]: 'Was possibly a confused man'." In red: 'Victim was supposedly hit hard by the police'


Imagine you are that police officer. You went to work this morning, probably hoping to arrive home safe at the end your shift. A call comes in: a confused man needs attention, and you are the officer send to respond. Minutes later you find yourself on top of this man, being called a 'motherfucker' and you're trying to restrain the individual. Not cooperating that well, you shout 'cooperate, now!' to the person and you feel you need to resort to other measures apart from verbal instructions. You punch the individual in the side ribs hoping he will lower his arm so that you can cuff him, and consequently move him to the police car. These are all strategies you learned in your police trainings of course. Then, all of the sudden, the personl stops breathing, and eventually dies.

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Night Life
Night-Life Security Staff

Phie van Rompu

Free fight groups and hooligans

Rozalie Lekkerkerk

Delinquent youth
Delinquent youth

Floris Mosselman

Police teams
Police teams

Laura Keesman


Raheel Dhattiwala and Don Weenink

Vigilante Mob
Vigilante mob violence

Muhammad Asif

Video analysis
Video analysis of violent interactions

Raheel Dhattiwala, David van der Duin and Don Weenink

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