2 minute read
17 Sep 2014
2:45 pm

Release crime stats more often – ISS

Crime statistics should be released more frequently with more detail, the Institute for Security Studies said on Wednesday.

Gareth Newham, head of the governance, crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) speaks about what to expect during a news conference in Pretoria on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 ahead of the release of the 2013/14 annual crime statistics. Newham believes that house robberies, business robberies and other violent crimes will most likely see an increase when police officials release the statistics on Friday. He provided predictions made by ISS based on research through numerous organisations that have already noted a steady increase in crime over the 2012/2013 year. Statistics from the insurance industry show that business robberies and house robberies have increased this year based on the number of claims submitted. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

“The more frequently released the better, the more detailed… the better,” ISS spokesman Gareth Newham told reporters in Pretoria.

“Crime has emerging trends and we can’t have a measure where you wait a year later to release them. It should be monitored monthly.”

Speaking ahead of the release of the 2013/14 crime statistics on Friday, Newham said releasing statistics more frequently would make it easier to pick up crime trends.

The statistics should not be seen as police property, he said.

Newham said the SA Police Service could not “fix policing” on its own.

He said violence could be reduced by focusing on early childhood development.

“If you want to reduce violence, look at early childhood development… That is a sustainable way to reduce violence,” Newham said.

“The nature of murder in South Africa is driven by socio-economic conditions.”

Newham said crime statistics were not a direct reflection of police performance and that the police were “certainly working harder”.

“We have a shortage of social workers. The police can’t deal with the factors that lead to violence… The police can’t fix policing on its own.”

He said the National Prosecuting Authority needed to finalise more cases.

Looking at the 2012/13 figures, most violent crime categories in South Africa went up. Last year was the third time murder increased in 20 years.

According to the statistics from that year, the Eastern Cape had the highest murder rate, followed by the Western Cape, Free State, and the Northern Cape. Limpopo had the lowest murder rate.

Rural areas were more dangerous, Newham said.

In 80 percent of cases the victim knew the perpetrator.

Aggravated robbery had also gone up, as had business, house, and car robberies.

“There was a remarkable increase in business robberies, about a 300 percent increase,” he said.

“These crimes are largely syndicated. You need to identify the syndicates. Good crime intelligence is fundamental.”

Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega were expected to release the 2013/14 crime statistics in Pretoria on Friday.

Newham said during a meeting with the ISS on Tuesday Nhleko indicated he was willing to engage with the ISS.

“If the minister was able to change things, he will. Crime is affecting all of us. We all want the same thing.”

Last year, the ISS said the crime statistics police released last September contained a miscalculation, and that they downplayed the rate of violent crime.

At the time, Newham said police had used population estimates calculated by Statistics SA in 2001, which expected the population to be 50.6 million in 2011, instead of using data from the 2011 census, which showed there were 52.3m people in South Africa.

By not updating the population number, police had understated the increase in serious and violent crimes. At the time the police ministry and the national police commissioner’s office dismissed the criticism.

Police said it would apply the new population estimates, based on the 2011 census results, only from the 2012/13 financial period onwards.