Crime Stats – delay in release of data

Dan Plato, MPP

Western Cape Minister of Community Safety

I am concerned about the sudden change in date for the release of the annual crime statistics for 2013/2014, which was scheduled for release in Pretoria tomorrow but has now been delayed until Friday, without any explanation or apology. Provincial Ministers were notified of the change late last night and will now have to change their flights and diaries in order to attend the release. I will, however, be in Pretoria on Friday to receive the crime statistics and will be studying the results thoroughly.

The release on Friday will also mean that the crime statistics will most likely enjoy less media coverage in the print media, as many newspapers do not publish over the weekend, and might therefore not be interrogated as vigorously if they were released earlier in the week. We believe this is a disservice to the people of this province and the people of South Africa.

On Friday, the SAPS national management needs to showcase any areas of success in policing during the previous financial year but must also acknowledge their shortcomings. They then need to present their plan of action going forward in order to address these problems. Our communities have a right to feel safe.

With serious policing resource shortages in South Africa and in the Western Cape – up to 85% of stations in this province are understaffed – the SAPS has to ensure that every resource, human or financial, is allocated where it will have the biggest impact. My department has done an assessment of the policing needs and priorities of all communities across this province, as required of us by the Constitution, and we have provided this information to the National Minister and National Commissioner. If SAPS management make proper use of the information we have provided they will be able to optimally utilise their limited resources to effectively deliver on their constitutional responsibility to prevent and combat crime; and to protect and secure the inhabitants of the province and country. The Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into policing in the area also recommended that national police management urgently review the SAPS mechanism for determining human resource allocation. This will go a long way towards giving police stations most in need, the resources they need to fight crime.

Without regular crime statistics, however, the law enforcement entities, different spheres of government and the larger safety fraternity are left in the dark and are unable to play their part in making our communities safer by implementing targeted interventions to address fluctuations in crime.

I remain hopeful that the hard work being done by our officers on the ground will reflect in positive changes in the latest crime statistics. Our Thin Blue Line remains the front line in ensuring criminals get their day in court and that thorough policing and investigation translates to convictions and safer communities.

The release of the Crime Statistics on Friday must be met with a detailed plan to not only improve on the statistics but to combat the origins of crime and help create safer communities.