Police used ‘wrong figures’ to work out crime stats

2013-11-06 15:36

The SA Police Service used the wrong population figures to work out crime ratios for the 2012/13 crime statistics, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has said.

“We all know there is some level of manipulation of crime statistics at police station level. There have been some prosecutions regarding that,” said Gareth Newham, who heads the governance, crime and justice division at the ISS.

“It is the first time we see such errors on statistics from the national level,” he said.

Crimes such as murders were calculated against a population of 100 000.

Newham said the police had used population estimates calculated by Stats SA in 2001, which estimated that the population would be 50.6 million in 2011, instead of using data from the 2011 census, which showed that there were 52.3 million people in South Africa.

By not updating the population, the police had understated the increase in serious and violent crimes.

“The police used old and outdated population estimates of 2001. The changing crime ratios were not matched with the new population ratio.”

Where serious crimes such as murder, robbery and assault were indicated to have gone down, raw statistics indicated that they had gone up.

Newham said the difference regarding these inaccuracies at provincial levels was up to 10%.

He called on Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to establish an inquiry into why such an error had occurred.

“We recommend that the inquiry include independent statisticians and the outcome should ensure that this does not happen again.”

The ISS had not succeeded, despite several attempts, to meet national police commissioner Riah Phiyega, said Newham.

“We have written letters and have been waiting for the past seven weeks since the release of the statistics. We have also invited the police to this seminar, but have had no response.”

Phiyega’s spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale was not available to comment this afternoon because he was in a meeting.

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