An­drew Faull

Pretoria News Weekend - - OPINION -

PO­LICE Min­is­ter Bheki Cele and Na­tional Com­mis­sioner Khehla Si­tole re­cently an­nounced a new “high den­sity sta­bil­i­sa­tion in­ter­ven­tion” to tackle crime. The strat­egy fo­cuses on cash-in-tran­sit heists, car hi­jack­ings, mur­der, house rob­beries, and gang and taxi vi­o­lence.

It in­cludes the de­ploy­ment of deskbased po­lice of­fi­cials to the streets in “iden­ti­fied hotspots”, while ded­i­cated de­tec­tives track sus­pects wanted for or­gan­ised and re­peat vi­o­lent crimes.

The strat­egy comes on the back of a multi-year rise in ag­gra­vated rob­bery, and a re­cent spike in rob­beries tar­get­ing cash-car­ry­ing ar­moured vans. It has al­ready re­sulted in key ar­rests, and should thus be cel­e­brated.

But more than 90% of vi­o­lent crimes recorded each year fall out­side the cat­e­gories named in the strat­egy.

To sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce vi­o­lence and harm in South Africa, po­lice should ex­pand the strat­egy: (1) fo­cus on mur­der hot spots, (2) tackle do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ef­fec­tively, and (3) im­ple­ment tar­geted, ev­i­dence-based in­ter­ven­tions.

First, for the po­lice to im­prove public safety most ef­fec­tively, it should fo­cus a sig­nif­i­cant amount of its re­sources on re­duc­ing mur­der. Mur­der is the most re­li­able crime statis­tic and the best proxy for vi­o­lence more broadly.

Where mur­der is com­mon, so is other vi­o­lence. Mur­der and as­so­ci­ated types of vi­o­lence af­fect far more peo­ple, and cause far more harm than car hi­jack­ings, house rob­beries or cash-in-tran­sit heists.

A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of mur­ders in South Africa is pre­dictable, so po­lice should be able to re­duce it. For ex­am­ple, in 2015/16, 78% of mur­ders oc­curred in

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