Mireille Wenger MPP
DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Community Safety
The annual crime statistics show increases across most crime categories, and most notably violent crime, in the Western Cape. These statistics show that the lack of police man-power in the province is affecting the police’s ability to do their work effectively and efficiently.
The Western Cape suffers from the largest shortage of police officers, more so than any other province. While the Free State, KZN, North West and Limpopo have surplus members, the Western Cape is the most under-resourced province of all. In our province, the shortage of officers accounts for 60% of national shortage: 3 out of every 5 members for the country.
The stations that experience the highest crime levels, have some of the lowest number of officers in ratio to the population they serve at 3 -4 times less than the national norm. The people who are most affected by crime have the fewest police officers.
This problem has been compounded by dwindling police reservist numbers. In the Western Cape in 2008, there were 22 159 instances in which police reservists were used. By 2012 this dropped to roughly 2700. In 2013 the police in the Western Cape were unable to even maintain this low level of reservist activity and there was a decrease of over 1000 active reservists amounting to 82 000 less police hours in one year.
The lack of sufficient police officers is having a negative impact on the police’s ability to prevent crime and this needs to be addressed urgently. I will be writing to the National Police Commissioner to get her assurance that the shortage of officers in the Western Cape tops her priority list.
The recent drive to recruit some 600 officers in our province is simply not enough as it does not even address half of the shortage. Furthermore, it will take 2 years before the new recruits are street ready and by which time, through attrition, the shortage of officers will have continued to grow. More needs to be done by national police management to bolster police numbers in our province as soon as possible.
Note to media: The Western Cape Police Management have been asked to brief Provincial Parliament’s Community Safety Standing Committee on the crime statistics on 1 October to better understand what measures will be taken to turn this trend around.