Residents of Jeffreys Bay were informed at the Community Police Forum (CPF) on Monday night that robberies have increased in the town by the staggering figure of 250 %.
Unfortunately, because of the new way in which the Police provide the community with crime stats, there is no way in knowing if the figure of 250 % comes off a low base or a high base. In other words it could be increase of 10 cases per month to 25 cases, or it could be an increase of 100 cases per month to 250 cases.
What makes things even more bizarre is that the Police were comparing March 2011 to March 2010. “We need to know what is happening in the town on a day to day basis to effectively combat crime”, said Brenton Williams from the CPF.
“The CPF has been trying to get an answer as to why the Police cannot give the public information about crime that could actually lead to the prevention of more crime but to little avail. It makes a bit of a mockery of the very essence of the partnership between the community and the Police as envisaged by the Police Act of 1995.”
The ban on releasing information about crime stats comes from the national office of the Police and appears to stem from concerns that negative publicity about the state of crime in South Africa could lead to a negative image of the country internationally that could lead to a lack of foreign investment and the drying up of international tourists to South Africa.
Trevor Watkins, chariman of the Jeffreys Bay Residents Association recently likened the refusal of the Police to release relevant crime stats to a listed company refusing to release its financial statements or to a sports team refusing to release the results of a game. “The public has a vested interest in the crime stats, yet the Police refuse to divulge information that could save a person’s life or prevent a crime from taking place”, said Watkins.
South Africans are only privy to what is happening crime wise in their own country once a year when the Police releases its stats. Last year the stats were only available about 6 months after the end of the Police’s financial year end of March, making it extremely difficult for the citizens of the the country to protect themselves from becoming victims of crime.