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We do not expect good news: ISS on crime stats

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The crime statistics that will be released on Tuesday could show a rise in the number of murders and robberies in the country, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said.

“We do not expect good news tomorrow,” the ISS’s Gareth Newham told News24 on Monday.

He said if there was a rise, it would show that recent increases were not just a “spike”, but rather a trend.

“It will be a fundamental shift over the big gains we made over the last 10 years.”

He said the biggest flaw in the statistics, particularly for violent crimes like assault and rape, was that they were unreliable.

“Very few people report the crimes. So when the police say the rate is going down, it means there are fewer victims reporting cases.”

Another flaw was that statistics merely say whether a category is going up or down, it does not say what the factors were behind the figures.

In a break with the trend of briefing the media first on the statistics, the figures will be released on Tuesday to Parliament’s portfolio committee on police.

Tracking trends

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s spokesperson Musa Zondi told News24 that briefing Parliament was the first priority.

“We report to Parliament, and any performance by the department must be reported to Parliament,” he said.

“You can’t account to the media without accounting to Parliament.”

He said the previous practice of releasing the statistics to the media was “wrong”.

The SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Thursday that while the levels of certain crimes have dropped since 1994, increases in armed robbery, hijackings, sexual assault and drug related crimes have made it hard to determine if South Africa is a safer country.

“That is difficult to answer, because different trends run in different directions,” SAIRR CEO Frans Cronje told reporters in Johannesburg.

Cronje said it was possible some increases could be due to effective policing.

“[With the drugs figures] this also might be because of changes in drug use and behaviour… changes in living standards might also be a contributing factor.”

A decline in stock theft figures could conversely be related to lesser farmer confidence in the police. News24

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