/ 1 November 2007

More cops not the answer to crime, seminar hears

Tackling crime required community involvement and could not merely be solved with more police officers, a seminar on policing in Pretoria heard on Thursday.

”Because crime is a social problem, [there] has to be a social solution, involving more players than just the police,” Temba Mathe of the National Secretariat for Safety and Security told delegates at the seminar entitled Policing in South Africa 2007: Key Issues and Developments.

The ability to deal with and solve crimes did not depend on the police, or their numbers, but rather on the relationship between authorities and residents they served.

The fact that more than 70% of rapes and about 80% of murders happened among people who knew each other reinforced the importance of social crime-prevention initiatives.

”The effectiveness of police crime-prevention strategies will always be limited unless crime prevention is seen as the joint responsibility of the government and the community,” he added.

Institute for Security Studies senior researcher Johan Burger told delegates on Wednesday that the police were often expected to deliver on unrealistic demands and expectations.

”Something is clearly wrong in how we deal with our crime and the fact that we expect the police to deal with crime on our behalf.” — Sapa