DA proposes crime stats overhaul

By Drum Digital
25 September 2012

The current method of collecting, collating, and reporting crime statistics means few people trust the figures reported each year, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.

"Additionally, the statistics are out of date by the time they are released, which in turn seriously reduces their usefulness," DA spokeswoman Dianne Kohler-Barnard told journalists at Parliament.

For the police to fight crime effectively, and to allow for government to be held accountable for its performance in crime prevention, South Africa needed a new method of collecting, collating, and reporting on statistics, she said.

The time had come for an independent body to take responsibility for crime statistics. That was the only way to restore the public's trust in the figures.

Kohler-Barnard urged Parliament to establish a multi-party ad hoc committee on crime statistics to determine the validity of how these crime statistics were collated and reported.

This would allow Parliament the opportunity to decide whether the current process was working, or if alternatives needed to be explored.

The DA proposed that an independent body be created that would be responsible for collating and reporting crime statistics.

This body, which could possibly be a unit within the civilian secretariat for police, would have a specific mandate to collect reliable real-time data, which took under-reporting into account, to give a full and honest picture of the crime situation.

"This will include how many arrests are made, how many prosecutions are carried out, and how many convictions are secured.

"This unit must be funded autonomously to ensure that it remains independent."

Real-time crime statistics should be publicly available at each and every SA Police Service station 24/7 so that tailored and localised responses could be formulated.

For this to happen, a computerised, integrated criminal justice information system should be introduced and managed by the independent crime statistics unit, Kohler-Barnard said.

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