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ISS: Crime stats do not reflect threats

Written by: Derrick Spies
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012

The latest crime statistics released today do not reflect the actual security threats facing citizens, according to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

“Of course we welcome the ongoing reductions in most violent crime categories,” said ISS crime and justice programme head Gareth Newham.

“However, these statistics do not reflect some serious endemic and emerging security threats facing South Africans.”

These included corruption, public violence, group murders, political assassinations, and domestic violence.

Newham urged Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to allow the police to provide more regular and detailed information on these crimes.

As these crime statistics were already six months out of date, people were prevented from knowing about current crime challenges which might affect their safety.

“For example, we know that violent public protests have exploded since 2009, but these are not revealed in the crime statistics,” Newham said.

Much important detail about crime and violence was not provided in the statistics because it was not properly monitored by police or reported on as separate categories in the crime statistics.

The declining rates of murder and assault were largely because of fewer cases of interpersonal violence between relatively young males who knew each other.

However, these broad statistical categories hid threats, such as gang violence, vigilante killings, xenophobic attacks, and murders occurring during robberies.

Farm murders and attacks, which posed a massive threat to food security at a time of fast-rising food prices and that also resulted in rural job losses, were no longer reported on as a separate category for some reason.

To develop effective anti-crime partnerships, the government needed to release more information not less, Newham said.

Nevertheless, the ISS was heartened by the overall reduction in crime.

“It shows that although many crime categories are still at very high levels, in some respects we are heading in the right direction.”

The substantial reductions in violent crime, such as car and truck hijacking, bank robberies, and cash-in-transit heists demonstrated that in some areas, police were improving,” Newham said.