Corruption Watch launches tool that gives public access to police budgets and resources

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  • The Veza tool was developed after Corruption Watch won the Google impact challenge in 2018.
  • The tool allows the public to not only report corruption, but to also access a police station's budget and how much recourse they have.
  • The data found in the tool was provided by the various police stations in the country.

Civil rights group and corruption watchdog Corruption Watch (CW) has launched a tool to enable the public to access police budgets, rate and review a station's services and nominate police officers who are doing a good job.

At the virtual launch of the Veza tool on Wednesday, CW's head of stakeholder relations and campaigns, Kavisha Pillay, said it would help improve transparency and accountability in the police.

The open data tool uses information provided by the 1 150 police stations in the country. It was developed after CW was one of four winners of the Google Impact Challenge, which tasked local innovators to solve a social problem using technology. 

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"The launch of this tool signifies a new area in how technology can be used to advance social justice not just in SA but also across the world," added Pillay. 

"This tool is dedicated to our whistleblowers and the communities they serve, their bravery, their courage and their hopefulness for a better tomorrow is the sole inspiration for the work that we do as an organisation." 

Some of the features of the tool include being able to:

Features of the Veza tool
  • Report incidents of police corruption and police misconduct.
  • Access interactive maps of police corruption trends and hot-spots.
  • Access information relating to your rights when you encounter the police.
  • Access information on all 1 150 police stations across the country, such as locations, resources, budget and personnel.
  • Locate your nearest Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) unit.
  • Rate and review police stations based on your personal experience.
  • Nominate honest and ethical police officers based on your experience.

Pillay said the data provided by police stations was for the 2019/2020 academic year and they had already submitted a request for new data.

She added preliminary readings of the data showed a discrepancy in resources allocated. 

"So one of the key trends you will start to pick up is more affluent areas will have better-resourced police stations versus more vulnerable communities and this is what we are hoping communities and people on the ground, as well as others, will start acting on so we can start to reduce that imbalance of how resources and budgets have been allocated towards police stations."

Pillay noted they had not received full data from some of the stations. 

The head of justice and violence prevention at the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham, said the tool would aid in improving transparency within the police.

"In a democracy like South Africa, the police simply cannot be effective and really improve public safety unless they really are open and transparent and have good relationships with partners both in civil society and in the private sector, but specifically at a local level.

"This also provides the police with the opportunity to provide information and use that information as a basis to have discussions at police stations, in community policing forums," added Newham.

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