JeVanne Gibbs and Stephanie Pretorius
2 minute read
7 Nov 2013
7:20 am

Police stands by ‘miscalculated’ crime statistics: ‘We did not cheat’

JeVanne Gibbs and Stephanie Pretorius

The ministry of police stands by the crime statistics released in September and called for anyone who alleged that they cheated in releasing the data, to provide any evidence.

Picture: Tracy Lee Stark.

Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi said the ratios were not thumb-sucked, but provided by Statistics SA.

“We have men and women in blue working hard to ensure crime goes down. All our energies are focused on crime being reduced in the country for all to feel safe,” said Mnisi. “We firmly stand by the stats released.”

Mnisi’s comments follow a briefing by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) yesterday, where it was revealed that crime ratios released by the police could be proven to be statistically incorrect. Confusion regarding the statistics arose after police presented the 2012/13 crime statistics in September, when they chose to focus on the percentage increases and decreases in crime ratios between 2011/12 and 2012/13.

In the same way that the population figures can be considered less accurate, so can the ratios.

ISS analyst Gareth Newham called for an inquiry to be conducted by independent statisticians from universities in the country and Statistics SA.

Newham explained the effect of this supposed “miscalculation” was that it downplayed the extent to which certain serious violent crime categories were rising in the country, while exaggerating those categories that were decreasing.

“The SA population figure used by the SAPS to calculate the crime ratios in 2011/12 came from population estimates worked out by Statistics SA based on the 2001 census. Using the 2001 census, Statistics SA estimated that there would be 50.6 million people in the country in 2011,” Newham said. “But data from the more recent 2011 census, showed there were actually 52.3 million people in the country in 2011.”

The Citizen understands that the spike in crime numbers and ratios seemed more acceptable when compared to 2011/12 ratios based on 2011 mid-year estimates, as these ratios were higher than the ratios would be if calculated using 2011 census data.

National police spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said in 10 years’ time the country could be subjected to the same confusing debate, as so-called experts and analysts also have their own approach. “We will only apply the new population estimates, which are based on the 2011 Census results, from the 2012/13 financial period onwards,” he said.

StatsSA spokesman Trevor Oosterwyk said the entity has been working with a number of different government departments and will ensure that StatsSA statisticians work closely with all government departments.