Getting the crime statistics right

November 2012 Security Services & Risk Management

It is long past time for an independent body, comprising both public and private security, to take responsibility for our crime statistics.

I agree with some of the observations on the crime statistics by the DA’s Diane Kohler Barnard, shadow police minister, and have reservations about others. Most particularly I concur that there is a real and urgent need for information of such vital public interest to be compiled by a multi-resourced team.

It is long past time for an independent body, comprising both public and private security, to take responsibility for our crime statistics. There are many professionally staffed organisations that can bring the skills and experience and be of enormous assistance to the police in accessing, compiling and analysing this country’s crime statistics. It is the only way to restore the public’s trust in the figures that have been gathered and the inferences that can be drawn from them.

Most frustratingly for such bodies as SASA, the figures are at least 18 months out of date robbing them of any real relevance or substance except for historical reference. We need information, especially the numbers and modus operandi, that are as current as possible as the elements that enable rapid solution response and give real value and relevance to our strategising.

The criminal mind seeks to keep a step ahead and for the police and other security organisations to devise counteractive and proactive measures to defeat them becomes impossible working with outdated figures.

For one, SASA’s contribution would be professionally presented, accurate and incisive especially for those crimes that impact on corporations, business personnel and residences. It makes no sense for our police services to ignore an information resource that operates at the coalfaces of crime and is tasked with an enormous responsibility.

Ms Kohler Barnard says that “for our police service to fight crime effectively, and to allow for government to be held accountable for its performance in crime prevention, South Africa needs a new method of collecting, collating and reporting on statistics” and that she will be calling on Parliament “to establish a multi-party Ad Hoc Committee on Crime Statistics to determine the validity of how these crime statistics are collated and reported. This would allow Parliament the opportunity to decide whether the current process is working or if alternatives need to be explored.”

We would add to that statement by saying that to get the job done properly, it should not be left to policemen and politicians alone, but to South Africa’s wider security community, both public and private. It is sad to say, but many fine policemen have left the SAPS because of insufficient pay and benefits and lack of promotional prospects. Some have left the country and others the security industry. A significant number, however, have joined private security firms and others have started security companies of their own, so they have not been lost to the sector but are playing a vital role in keeping South Africans safe and secure. Their voices are important and should be heard, and what better way than in a team that helps collate and strengthen the national security collective.

We must be realistic and accept that the SAPS will be reluctant to accept private security help, but that does not mean we intend to stop trying.

Understandably perhaps the SAPS might consider much of their gathered information confidential and fear it might fall into the wrong hands if they widen their information management resources. We do not accept that. We believe we can be as security conscious as any in the sector. Can we convince the powers that be at SAPS that input by officers of the law such as ourselves can only be valuable and far-reaching.

It makes no sense to ignore the private security industry. It is a fact that private security personnel registered in accordance with PSIRA rules outnumber SAPS employees by four to one. This statistic is not lost by SAPS, evidenced by the fact that the minister has a bill before parliament that seeks to change existing laws that govern the industry.

To the government we would say: “We can help, we really can. Do not keep us at arm’s length. Let us work as a team. South Africa would be the winner.”

For more information contact iFacts, +27 (0)82 600 8225,


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