Police service delivery ‘crisis’

2016-04-15 13:00
(File, Saps)

(File, Saps)

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Pietermaritzburg - The KwaZulu-Natal government has slated the state of service delivery by the police in the province, but lay the blame for the situation on personnel shortages.

The government laid bare the state of affairs in a report based on oversight visits carried out at 96% (176) of police stations in the province, and the results were yesterday tabled in Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu’s budget vote speech.

The department said that, after reviewing their findings, it was “concerned”.

The report was broken down into different areas of police service delivery.

The findings, from visits carried out in the 2015/2016 financial year, revealed a low level of compliance in terms of the Domestic Violence Act and stated that not all police stations have a female officer on every shift.

The report further adds that some stations suffer a lack of “victim-friendly services” that are resourced and functional; a lack of designated firearms officers; and a lack of user-friendly facilities for the disabled.
Sector policing

Sector policing is an approach to crime-fighting where the service area of a police station is divided into smaller, manageable areas known as sectors.

Mchunu’s report states that although stations are able to profile sectors and appoint sector managers, the practical implementation of the scheme is “difficult”. A reason for this, according to the findings, is a shortage of resources such as motor vehicles and manpower.
Detective Services

Mchunu said the department would lobby for improved intelligence support to KZN detectives after finding that most police stations do not have quality facilities for detectives.

For example, it was reported that most stations do not have specialised interview rooms to question witnesses, and not all stations have detective units based on the premises.

Mchunu said statement-taking is still of poor quality at some stations. In the last financial year, the department had undertaken to implement a pilot project to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of detective services by auditing 50 closed dockets in high priority crimes.

However, they hope this year to establish permanent docket audits and case-tracking within the department in attempts to improve the criminal justice system.
Resource management

The report outlined that staff shortages were the highest in the visible policing sector and that absenteeism is at its highest during the weekends and at month end.

Mchunu added that there are also vehicles at some stations that are still not fitted with tracking systems, which are used to ensure that the vehicles are being used for their correct purpose.

“Based on the deficiencies identified, we reviewed the human resource development and recruitment strategies for the SAPS in the province and we remain concerned,” he said.

Another issue affecting service delivery is a shortage of police personnel, with 45% of KZN stations having a ratio of one officer to 700 residents, which is 354 more residents than the international standard.

“This has a major impact on visible policing and service at the crime service centres. There are indications that crime intelligence and the detectives may also have an acute shortage of personnel,” Mchunu said.

After submitting the findings at both cluster and provincial police levels, Mchunu said KZN police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni had assembled a “high-level” task team to work with the department to address the issues, and the stations’ shortcomings would be monitored closely until the end of the current financial year.

However, the DA was not so sure that Mchunu would keep to his promises to fix the province’s police service delivery “crisis”.

The party’s KZN spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison, Rishigen Viranna said the situation was “shocking” and that the department, year after year, did the same evaluation and came to similar findings, but nothing was done about it.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  police  |  saps

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