Police officers. File image: iStock
It was to be expected that Police Minister Bheki Cele would, soon after revealing worrying increases in serious crimes, go cap in hand to parliament to plead his case for more money for more cops.
He told MPs this week the United Nations’ (UN) recommended police-to-citizen ratio was one police officer to every 200 people.
In South Africa, this figure is one to 375.
That paints a frightening picture of a law enforcement system being badly under-resourced … but it is also misleading in a number of ways.
Firstly, experts do not place much store in the UN recommendations for police staffing. This is because the number of enforcement personnel deployed depends on the area and its crime issues, not the population.
Also, it is of concern that Cele seems to believe that more cops – and more money – is the panacea for crime.
What about ensuring that the corrupt and inefficient police officers in the service are weeded out first?
Just as crime has risen, so have people’s perceptions that crimes are being solved at a much lower rate than ever before.
Simply throwing more bodies into the police is not going to make much difference to that even more worrying statistic.
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