National police crime statistics should be released once a month and not when they are out of date, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said on Thursday (12/09/2013).
"Police update crime statistics every 24-hours. We only get it after it’s been outdated,” ISS governance, crime, and justice head Gareth Newham said.
"If you could get it once a month... communities could see what’s happening in their neighbourhoods and start acting without the help of police.” This would take a ”massive burden” away from police and residents would be able to take precautions, implement initiatives and change ineffective ones.
"Right now, people have no clue what’s happening in their areas.
"Communities should be entitled to quickly identify emerging crime trends.... It’s our information, we deserve it.... We pay our taxes.” Crime statistics were between six to 18 months out of date when they were released, and the decision not to release them monthly was a political one, he said.
Withholding detailed and regular information about crime went against the constitutional principles of transparency and accountability.
"Communities and individuals are not able to assess their safety risks.” This undermined transparency and building partnerships to reduce crime.
The ISS believed certain factors would influence crime figures for the 2012/13 financial year, including police resources being diverted for public violence, the new police leadership, the deterioration of the crime intelligence unit, and concerns about police brutality and corruption.
The crime statistics were due to be released next Thursday.
In the 2011/12 financial year, South Africa’s murder rate was 4.5 times higher than the world average, said Newham.
There were 43 murders a day on average and 50,688 cases of violence against children, an average of 140 cases a day.
In that year, there were 180,573 cases of violence against women, an average of 496 cases a day.
Interventions should include reducing children’s exposure to violence, improving parenting skills, increasing self esteem among young adults, and changing attitudes.
These interventions required the assistance of social workers, teachers, community development workers, and health professionals.
"In the past 10 years we’ve hired 70,000 additional police officers, while we have a shortage of over 52,334 social workers,” he said. - Sapa