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Need for better crime fighting strategies: Expert

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Overwhelming policing priorities coupled with a lack of any clear crime fighting strategies could be to blame for the poor 2014/2015 crime statistics released on Tuesday, according to a criminology expert. Police commissioner, Riah Phiyega and the national minister of police, Nathi Nhleko unveiled the annual crime stats for the past year with murder, violent crime and aggravated robbery all grabbing the headlines with sharp increases.

Professor Mark Shaw, director of the Centre of Criminology at UCT said the statistics on murder, both nationally and in the Western Cape were of grave concern, with the decline in murder seen since 1994 undergoing a change over the past few years.

“It is not entirely clear why the murder stats have continued to rise over the last three years. We know some reasons why that may be the case; economic conditions, and increases in armed robbery and gangsterism. I think we need a much clearer strategy to respond if we are going to turn this around,” he said.

Also on the increase is aggravated robbery, both at a residential and business level. Both have shown sharp increases in recent years according to Shaw.

“I would agree that those are policeable crimes and relate to the number of murders. These are the three categories I think do not bring good news from the crime statistics,” he declared.

There was some good news in the fact that some longer term declines were continuing, particularly in the areas of burglary and car theft. Shaw attributed this continued decreases as being directly related to improvements in technology.

Minister Nhleko in particular has been quick to divert blame for the increase in certain crimes on lacklustre policing. Shaw was partially in agreement, however he said this was very much dependent on the crime itself.

“If you look at robbery at household and business levels, hijackings, truck hijacking having shown countrywide a very high increase, those are crimes that can be investigated. Those in my view are a pack of really policeable crimes, and I think instability at the top of the police agency and a loss of focus are contributing factors to that increase,” he added. VOC

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