7 noteworthy points from the crime stats release in Parliament

Police have increased their visibility in the past year. (Gallo)

Police have increased their visibility in the past year. (Gallo)

The South African Police Service has released crime statistics for the 2015/16 year to Parliament, bringing some good news as far as the numbers go. But there are still some big concerns about crime and policing in the country. These are 7 key takeaways from the numbers.

1. Murder is on the rise
The murder rate in South Africa has increased by 4.9%. It is the fourth consecutive year that murder has increased, with the national murder rate now at 34 per 100 000. It was 33 in the previous year.

Attempted murder is also up by more than 3%. The Northen Cape is the only province which has shown a decrease in murders.

2. 83% of crimes are the result of “broad category” crimes
Broad category crimes include murder, robbery and common assault. For the most part, the crime stats reveal a decrease in most crimes, with the exception of murder. Contact crimes have gone up by 1% in the past year, with 65.9% of crimes reported being related to contact crime and property crime.

3. Sexual offences decreased by 3.2%
While the stats show that sexual offences have decreased, it’s also possible that sexual offences are more under-reported now than they have been before. The Crime Stats rely on police reports to indicate how much progress has been made with regards to crime.

4. Communities are stepping up
Out of around 2-million charges laid at police station in the last year, 1.7-million were charges made by community members rather than the police. These charges were all for serious crimes, with contact crimes making up the majority of these crimes. While communities reported 83% of the 2 million charges laid at police stations, police detected the remaining 17%.

Major General Norman Sekhukhune told Parliament´s police portfolio committee that there has been significant progress made in reducing community-reported crimes.

5. We need more social workers, rather than just more police
Police have increased their visibility in the past year, but in order to really create safe communities, Gareth Newman from the Institute of Security Studies says that social workers and teacher are also necessary to help build better communities.

Newman talks specifically about child welfare and the need for children to feel safe. That more charges are coming from communities also signifies how crime is fought not just by police, but also citizens.

6. Police believe they have made a dent in crime
Although the murder rate has been steadily rising, the SAPS in their presentation to Parliament that there had been a downward trend in most crimes, which shows that progress has been made.

“When we say that we have made progress, sometimes it is not convincing, especially when we talk of an area where lives have been lost,” acting police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane said on Friday.

“But the downward trend suggests our efforts are making a serious dent towards reducing crime,” he told the portfolio committee on police.

7. Public safety is getting worse
Newman, however, says that the latest figures demonstrate that public safety in South Africa is not improving. There were 87 more robberies per day in 2015/16 than there were five years ago. The increase in the murder rate is also cause for concern. These crimes, Newman says, happen in spaces where South Africans feel they should be safe – such as at home or in their workplace – elevating citizens’ fear that they have few places where they are safe.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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