MEC speaks out on policing bill paper

2013-07-05 22:33
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Cape Town - Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato raised his concerns about the government's green paper on policing on Friday, his spokesperson Greg Wagner said.

Plato addressed a packed public briefing, in Cape Town, which was overseen by the civilian secretariat for police's chief policy director Bilkis Omar.

Community policing forums, government departments, religious groups, and non-governmental and safety organisations also attended.

Plato referred to certain areas of the paper that he felt should be revised.

"Many of these issues relate to the seriously problematic trend of what appears to be a centralisation of power by the national police," he said.

The green paper came about following a review of the 1998 white paper on safety and security in 2010, which sought to address a number of gaps around implementation of the crime strategy.

The draft white paper was presented in July last year, but was criticised for not addressing broader safety and security concerns.

A task team then resolved that a green paper be drafted while retaining the white paper. The white paper is still being reviewed.

The green paper set out a broad vision for the policing strategy and practice over the medium to long-term.

It proposed investigating the feasibility of implementing policy resolutions for a single SA Police Service (SAPS), which was integrated with municipal police services.

This was to ensure metro police services were more accountable, and to standardise the orientation and training of police officers.

Oppose to single police force

Plato said the Western Cape government would strongly oppose any moves to create a single police force.

"Integrating municipal police services and the SAPS would have a disastrous impact on policing crime. The existence of municipal police services is in line with the international trend towards devolving police powers to tackle local problems."

He said the Constitution stated that national legislation had to provide a framework for the establishment, powers, functions, and controls of municipal police services.

He believed there were comprehensive measures in place to ensure these police forces were subject to the same national standards and accountability levels as the SAPS.

The green paper also considered the relationship between the provincial government and the SAPS.

It proposed that provincial MECs had a critical role to play in monitoring police conduct and service delivery, and promoting good relations between police and communities.

However, the paper stated that provinces had to be aligned with the national planning process.

The Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act allowed for the alignment of provincial plans with the secretariat and the integration of strategies and systems.

Plato said the provincial executive had to determine how it fulfilled its mandate and allocated its budget.

"Strategic plans and annual performance plans of provinces must be determined by the provincial government and not by national government through the secretariat," he said.

"In addition, the green paper completely disregards... the Constitution relating to the receipt of complaints about police and policing by the province and dealing with these complaints through investigation or through the appointment of a commission of inquiry."

Limitations

He said the paper did not sufficiently acknowledge the role of the MECs and appeared to limit their role to monitoring adherence to government policy.

Plato also raised his concerns about the review of the role and regulatory framework for the private security industry.

While he agreed the industry needed proper oversight, it was inadvisable to limit or reduce private security in the absence of improved policing.

Plato's other recommendations included the more frequent release of crime statistics and the reinstatement of specialised policing units for drugs, gangs, hijackings, and endangered species, among other priority crimes.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa's spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said on Friday that a broader consultation process involving communities in rural areas was important.

"In fact, one of the issues raised by some of the workshop attendees was the lack of presence of the youth, as there were few young people at today’s session," he said.

Mnisi said the paper's role was not to adopt a "one-size-fits-all" approach to policing.

He said the deadline for comment was extended until 20 July.

According to Wagner, it was announced in the public briefing that the deadline for comment had been extended until 31 July.

Read more on:    police  |  nathi mthethwa  |  dan plato  |  cape town

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