We need more boots on the ground – Popcru

Union leader slams decline in police officers

- By Sisanda Mbolekwa

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) wants increased technology support and more police officers, its president said at a central executive committee meeting this week.

“Over the past few years, budget cuts, poor infrastruc­ture, a lack of resources and training, and staff shortages have reached crisis levels and are preventing our members from performing their work effectivel­y,” Popcru peresident Zizamele Cebekhulu-Makhaza told 800 delegates.

He said these challenges placed police and correction­al service officers at risk.

A recent 2022/23 annual performanc­e plan reported a decline in officers from 199,345 in 2011/12 to 182,126 at the end of the 2020/21 financial year, Cebekhulu-Makhaza said.

“The greatest declines were seen at police station level, where human resources decreased by 14.3% between April 2012 and July 2021. They now hold just 43.4% of ideal personnel demand requiremen­ts, or four in 10 of officers needed.”

In contrast, he reported that the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (Psira) announced a 43% increase in employed private security officers to 557,277, nearly triple the number of SAPS members.

“High levels of crime and social unrest have seen growing demand for policing and the state cannot be allowed to abdicate its responsibi­lity for providing this as a mandatory service in favour of promoting private policing and security services,” he said.

“Not only will this further entrench inequality and make safety a luxury for the rich.”

He said that further interventi­ons were needed to improve police visibility and activity on the ground.

“To improve the effectiven­ess of our police service, police resources must be properly directed to where they will have the most impact. This means the SAPS needs to redeploy officers from desk positions in head and provincial offices to police station level to increase the number of boots on the ground.

“Additional­ly, there are technologi­cal solutions that must be employed as one of the resources to fight crime.

“All levels of government, civil society and community organisati­ons also need to work more closely together to help address the root causes of crime and increase focus on crime prevention, rather than making safety and security the sole responsibi­lity of the SAPS or correction­al services,” Popcru leader said.

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