'Police are heavily involved in serious and violent crime' - SAIRR report

2018-10-30 21:33
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Members of the SA Police Service (SAPS) continue to play a major role in perpetrating serious violent crime, according to an SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) report.

The institute released the report, titled Broken Blue Line 3 – its third such report after the first was released in 2011 and the second in 2015.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be that there has been much in the way of change. It still seems that police are heavily involved in serious and violent crime," the institute's head of campaign Marius Roodt said on Tuesday during a media briefing. 

Violent and serious crime high

In the report findings, the institute said it found that there had been no significant decline in police involvement in criminal and other nefarious activities, compared to what was found in the 2011 and 2015 reports. 

It also found that violent and serious crime was high and that the police lacked capacity in many respects, especially well-trained managers, which resulted in a spike in crime levels. 

As with the previous reports, the third report examined the extent to which the police were involved in perpetrating violence.

The report also looked at crime trends.

Roodt said the institute found that there has been an increase in violent crimes generally in South Africa over the past five years.  

"We have seen an uptick in crimes such as aggravated robbery, murder, hijackings and so on, and this is pretty much all linked to problems within the police and possible political interference within the police," he said.

Public trust decline

According to the report, criminal acts by the police range from "opportunistic theft and sexual assault to police collusion with bosses of organised criminal syndicates".

The incidents covered in the report occurred between June 2016 and October 2018, with the vast majority of incidents recorded in the 12 months leading up to October.

The institute also saw a decline in public trust in the police.

"If people start losing trust in the police and the justice system then this has implications for social cohesion, and we can see an increase in mob justice which is all quite worrying," Roodt said. 

The Broken Blue Line 3 followed the methodology of the 2011 and 2015 reports in which the SAIRR analysts identified 100 incidents of alleged police involvement in perpetrating serious and violent crimes. 

According to the report, the 100 case studies were written up and then analysed for trends or patterns of behaviour.

In the 2015 report, the institute wrote about the effectiveness of police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and how many complaints resulted in disciplinary or other action.

In the current report, it compares the findings from IPID's 2013/14 report.

The institute stated in the report that IPID seemed to be doing a slightly better job at securing convictions (whether they were criminal or disciplinary).

"The number of incidents increased by less than 1% between 2013/14 and 2017/18 (from 9 055 to 9 097), but criminal convictions went up by nearly 20% and disciplinary convictions by nearly 75%," it said.

SAIRR Blue Line 3 report

In the report, the institute proposed three additional new policy proposals which it said it thought would go some way to help South Africans turn the tide against crime.

"First, we propose that any security upgrades to one's home or any expenses that are incurred regarding security be tax deductible," Roodt said.

South Africans already spend a lot of money securing homes and protecting families and should be allowed to claim some of this to offset their taxes, he said.

He added that they were also proposing that communities be allowed to elect their station commanders at the time of local government elections, or at the very least, that community police forums have greatly expanded powers to appoint station commanders.

"That way the head of your local police station will be directly accountable to your community," the institute said in the report. The third proposal was that development of well-organised and well-resourced neighbourhood watch schemes, that are integrated with private security providers, be implemented.

Proposals in the institute's second report had not been implemented, the report noted, indicating that the SAPS seemed to not take the crisis seriously.

Among proposals in the institute's second report was reinstilling respect for the chain of command, the establishment of a new investigative agency within the Department of Justice and the decentralisation of decision making in station leadership.

 "It also does seem that the SAPS is currently losing the battle against crime, considering the trend over the past five years," it said.

The full report can be obtained here.

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