Stats indicate crime is going down, but so is police confidence

Since 2010 there has been a decline of home robberies and housebreakings from 6.8 to 5.7% in 2015-2016. Theft of personal property also went down slightly, from 2.5% in 2011 2% in 2015-2016. While this may sound like good news the same survey reveals that South Africans have less confidence in the police and crime protection units.

The percentage of South African households who are satisfied with the South African police decreased from 64.2% in 2011 to 58.8% in 2015-2016. There is also an indication of dissatisfaction of how courts handle crime cases – 43.6% of South Africans believe the courts are too lenient on criminals and the confidence South African households have on courts consistently declined from 64.5% to 52.3%.

In addition to this, the survey shows a significant decline in faith in police protection. South Africans indicated they saw a decline of police presence in their area from 42.3% a day in 2011 to 33,1% in 2015-2016. This is while the percentage of households who said they never see police on duty increased from 12.5% to 19.4% in the same years.

Corruption is a great concern for South African households and the dissatisfaction with police may come from their perceived involvement in corruption. Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said in his presentation this morning, “traffic fines and police are law enforcers and they constitute 27% of what people think are drivers of corruption.”

Decline in South African’s satisfaction with police protection. Picture: stats sa

There is also a lack of correlation between the numbers collected by the victim of crime survey and the perception of South Africans regarding crime in the country. The low number of crime reporting are a concern, this may be another indication of the lack of trust in our justice system. In his report Lehohla echoed this and stressed the need for reporting of crimes. The crimes which remain under reported are livestock and crop theft. Under reporting rates for livestock theft is 70.7% and for theft of crops is 82.7%.

Sexual assault was not included in this particular survey. According to Dr Isabel Schmidt, executive manager of social statistics at Statistics South Africa, “the reason for this is because sexual assault cases are so underreported that there aren’t sufficient numbers to analyse”.

While statically crime in South Africa seems to be on a decline, this must be viewed crucially with the increase in the distrust of South African law enforcement units and justice systems.

South Africans’ perception on how courts deal with criminal cases. Picture: Stats sa
South Africans’ perceptions of corruption drivers. Picture: stats sa


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