Two years ago, the release of South Africa’s annual crime statistics was met with media reports such as “The latest crime statistics are a stark reminder of how far South Africa still has to go to reduce violence and crime” and, after criticism of the statistics released by the SAPS in 2015, they are now compiled in conjunction with StatsSA to ensure additional quality control measures.
On 2nd September 2016, the latest figures, for the year from April 2015 to March 2016, were released and showed a headline reduction in total reported crime of over 2%, against a background of worrying increases in violent crime including murders and aggravated robberies.
The South African Institute of Security (SAIS) plays a key role in the private security industry as it seeks to raise the level of excellence of security professionals, and so sought the assistance of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), to help interpret the latest statistics and consider the implications for the private security industry.
On Friday 28th October 2016, a group of leading security professionals, including members of SAIS and ASIS International, met to discuss the statistics and the possible implications for the private security industry. Lizette Lancaster, manager of the ISS’s South African Crime and Justice Information and Analysis Hub, led the workshop with a highly informative presentation which was later described by a very experienced security manager as an ‘eye-opener’.
One area of great concern to the private security industry is the increasing level of crimes including violence; key increases were murder (up by 3,2%), home robberies (up by 2,7%) and carjacking (up by 14,3%), as shown in the images.
An analysis of crime rates over a longer period shows that these changes are not isolated, indeed, after 18 years of almost annual reductions in the murder rate, there have been increases in each of the last four years. Overall aggravated robbery offences have also experienced a rising trend in recent years and business robberies have increased almost three-fold over the last 10 years.
Despite the immediate negative perception of these trends, some can be equally considered as the success of improvements in physical security and guarding measures in recent years, reducing the opportunities for burglaries and car thefts without the need to confront people. However, an unintended consequence of this appears to be that more and more criminals are now resorting to violence to meet their needs.
Various factors which may have contributed to the changing crime trends were discussed at the workshop with considerations being given to how private security could possibly respond by changing the profile of some of the services that it offers. However, there was also a consensus that no one group of stakeholders has the ability, or an outright responsibility, to address the issues raised, but rather that a solution will require the efforts of all interested parties in a multi-agency approach.
SAIS and ASIS International hold regular workshops for security professionals and would be pleased to hear from anyone wishing to join them, attend the workshops or make presentations on matters of interest to the private security industry.
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