Shadow Crime Report: How up-to-date, Local Information can help us Fight Crime
Year after year the annual crime statistics released by the South African Police Service (SAPS) are criticised for being reactive, too late and out-dated. With this in mind, the Western Cape Department of Community Safety has now developed a system which allows us to use alternative indicators to crime statistics to compile a “shadow crime statistics report”.
The data used to compile this, our first Shadow Crime Report has been obtained from the SAPS (crime statistics) and the mortuary statistics for 2008 -2012. This information allows us to conduct multiple analyses with critical additional information needed for proactive responses. This information allows us to be more responsive, allocating our limited resources more effectively and to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to crime, allowing for localised responses according to the safety needs that exist in communities. If we can identify a specific area with a high number of alcohol related crime, we can investigate liquor outlets in that area and take the necessary action should any illegal shebeens be found. Another opportunity would be to target our safety initiatives in an area that has a spike in crime over a specific period, e.g. increased road blocks, safety awareness meetings with the community, and we can request SAPS to heighten their visible policing operations.
As provided for in the Community Safety Bill, the Western Cape Government (WCG) has started developing an integrated safety information system that considers all potential sources of safety information at our disposal. This integrated safety information will also serve to identify trends of crime and the reaction to that by the police so as to allow for the monitoring of police in terms of section 206(3) of the Constitution.
By using alternative sources of information (such as mortuary stats and independent research reports) we can be more responsive to the safety needs that exist in our communities and also make use of our limited resources more effectively.
This information has permitted us to identify, for example:
- a profile of victims, based on factors such as gender, race or age.
- Gender:The vast majority of murder victims in the Western Cape last year were male. 87% of murders recorded were male, compared with 13% female. Considering that males make up approximately 48% of the population of the province, this shows that men are more likely to become victims of murder than women.
- Age & Race: Similarly, we were able to analyse the age group of victims and found that 63% of murder victims in the Western Cape were between the ages of 18 and 35 years old, yet population demographics tell us that the 30-54 age category accounts for the highest number of population in the province (32%), meaning that younger people are disproportionately becoming victims of murder. Likewise, the majority of murder victims were classified as African (59%), compared with 38% Coloured murder victims.
- By analysing the data collected for this report, we have been able to determine the profile for murder victims in the10 most crime affected policing precincts is an African male, aged 18-35 years, who has died of stab wounds, between midnight and 6AM, specifically over the weekend.
- Nature of injury:while most murders in the province overall were from sharp objects (stabbings) – 49%, the number of murders by shootings in gang plagued areas is significantly higher than the provincial norm.
Table 1 - List of Police stations with most gunshot murder victims 2011/2012:
The rate and number of murders committed in known gang areas has increased by significant margins since 2008, while over the same period of time little success has been achieved with the prosecution of murder cases in those areas.
E.g. From 2007/2008 - 2011/2012, of the 197 cases of murder registered at the Phillipi police station (responsible for Hanover Park), there have only been 35 convictions resulting in a 17.7% success rate over a period of five years. If the convictions are considered against the number of prosecutions finalised, the success rate is slightly higher at 25.3%. Indicating that, for the past 5 years, 75% of murders in Hanover Park and surrounding areas remain unpunished.
We have also been able to identify, for example:
- The 10 police precincts which recorded the highest number of murders in the last year: these ten police stations, out of 149 police precincts in the province, account for almost half - 41.1% (1011 cases) - of all of the murders recorded in the Western Cape (2290 murders).At these 10 stations, more than half of the murders committed, were committed on weekends and mainly between midnight and 6am. These stations were: Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Harare, Gugulethu, Kraaifontein, Delft, Mitchells Plain, Phillip East, Bishop Lavis, Mfuleni.
- the cyclical nature of murder in certain areas. These indicators tells us that January and February generally have the lowest numbers of murders with a peak over the festive season in December. However, this is for the province as a whole. If one examines specific areas, different patterns start to emerge. For example, Nyanga shows a decline in murders over this same peak period.
All of this information demonstrates the significance of localised information which can now be used for more specific interventions that can have a far more meaningful impact.
With this kind of information shared by different levels of government, the SAPS could heighten their visible policing operations in the affected areas, illegal liquor outlets could be more easily identified, and various other interventions could be introduced.
We will release this shadow crime report every 6 months, with the aim of eventually providing quarterly reports. We believe that more regular reporting of crime information and making this information available to the public will go a long way in curbing crime, educating the public about crime in their area, and allowing the whole of society to play an active role in making our communities safer Better Together.
The report is now available for download at the following link:
Western Cape Shadow Report on Safety Information
Spokesperson for Minister Plato
Cell: 072 623 4499