Crime Stats 2015 – policing policy has to be informed by crime reality
Statement by Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety
Tomorrow’s release of the national annual crime statistics needs to genuinely inform the policy direction for policing, if the South African Police Service (SAPS) are serious about improving the safety of all who live in South Africa and the province.
On a safety oversight visit to Masiphumelele today I observed how people have serious policing service delivery complaints. The community is growing tired of empty promises and unresponsive policing policies.
The crime realities many people in the Western Cape are facing on a daily basis are due to inefficient visible policing, SAPS resource shortages, and a generally insufficient response to gang and drug-related crimes.
The crime realities the province is facing have been well documented through the annual Provincial Policing Needs and Priorities (PNPs) determination process led by the Department of Community Safety. The constitution requires the Western Cape Government to inform the National Police Minister on the results of the PNPs to determine national policing policy.
However, despite our constant echo of the Western Cape people’s calls, the National SAPS management seems unwilling to:
- Re-instate the police reservists, which could assist in increasing a visible policing force;
- Effectively respond to increased public unrest. Public Order Policing (POP) in the Western Cape is earmarked to get 481 additional POP staff over 4 years (from 2015/16) with no additional resources in the first year, and a mere 70 additional posts in year two. Comparatively, Gauteng will be receiving 673 additional posts, of which 288 will be rolled out in year one and 201 posts in year two. POP in the province are thinly stretched with only 352 POP officers out of 20 000 officers in the province able to respond to protest action across the entire Western Cape;
- Reinstate the specialised units, including the gang and drug units. In a written response to a question put to Minister Nhleko in National Parliament, he admits that “There is no intention in the Annual Performance Plan 2015/16 to reintroduce any additional specialised units”. This is contrary to his policy remarks made in his budget speech and a public commitment made earlier this year.
Last year, Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, stated that since the re-establishment of the SAPS’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences specialised units four years ago, there has been a combined 36 225 year imprisonments and 695 life imprisonments in combatting heinous crimes against women and children. We need the same approach to achieve success in combatting gang violence.
The SAPS’ emergency re-enlistment of officers might further be indicative that the SAPS management are realising that their policy successes has been too few and far between.
The policing policies implemented by the National SAPS management need to be based on the crime realities our communities are facing.
We cannot take a long term view and believe all crime is still on the decrease. The shifts in our crime patterns over the last two to five years need to better inform the policing operations currently underway and those planned going forward. This must be done in partnership with communities, to stem the tide against rising crime.
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