Crime Stats – Convictions are Key in a Whole-of-Society Approach against Crime
Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety
The release of the annual crime statistics by the National Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, scheduled for tomorrow, 19 September 2014, must be met with a detailed plan of action to not only bring the statistics down, but also combat crime and make our communities safer.
Although an increase in some crime categories, such as drug related crime can be attributed to more successful policing efforts; we need the criminals to be taken off our streets in order to make our communities safer. Arrested suspects need to be prosecuted with sufficient evidence to ensure a conviction. If not, our crime statistics will continue to increase and our communities will continue to live in fear.
The Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry recently highlighted that conviction rates could be as low as 1% of reported cases in the area; that detectives are overworked; and that problems with detective services in general dates back to 2011. This situation is not unique to Khayelitsha and now that the SAPS have been presented with the final report I am confident that many of these issues will now be addressed.
We cannot allow victims of crime to be let down by failures in our justice system or due to insufficient investigations by the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Too often suspects are being released from custody before getting their day in court due to insufficient evidence to prosecute. Other failures include bail not being opposed for an accused, who is already out on bail for serious offences, due to the magistrates not being informed by the SAPS about the accused’s bail history. We need to see closer cooperation and communication between the SAPS and the justice cluster.
Despite the fact that the Western Cape Government has no operational control over the SAPS in the province and has no direct role to play once criminals are arrested, we are dedicated to playing our part in assuring we address the root causes of crime and help minimise the opportunity for crime to occur.
The Watching Briefs – an initiative introduced by the Department of Community Safety – was established to detect and report on police inefficiencies at courts. The unit has already identified a number of systemic problems which were brought to the police’s attention and resulted in dozens of cases being placed back on the court roll.
The Department of Community Safety believes meaningful partnerships are at the heart of a whole of society approach to increase safety. To minimise the causes and opportunity for crime the Department:
- Focuses on youth orientated partnerships to provide alternative opportunities through bursary partnerships with the FET colleges;
- Partners with the religious fraternity to provide alternative opportunities to youth during holidays;
- Provides training and development of at risk youth at the Chrysalis academy and soon to be established Wolwekloof academy;
- Partners with Municipalities, City Improvement Districts (CIDs), Neighbourhood Watches (NHWs) and Community Policing Forums (CPFs) in the strategic deployment of safety kiosks as a visible deterrence for criminal behaviour;
- Capacitates NHWs and CPFs to ensure effective and efficient safety services and oversight to communities; and
- Formalised its oversight role and responsibilities under the Western Cape Community Safety Act.
Through the transversal Youth Development Strategy in the province, the Western Cape Government tries to instil positive behavioural changes in our youth to prevent them being lured into a life of crime. A number of provincial departments have introduced various interventions under this strategy over and above the department of Community Safety. Many of these are focused on providing opportunities to young people in order for them to become educated, skilled, independent and responsible adults later in life.
We need a whole of society approach where the entire safety value chain plays its part to ensure safety of our communities. The actual number of reported crimes as displayed in the annual crime statistics mean very little if these figures are not used to help inform safety interventions to ultimately reduce crime.
The Western Cape Government is determined to play its part and to partner with the SAPS, different spheres of government, organisations, communities and individuals to create safer communities for the people of the Western Cape.
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