The opposition Democratic Alliance says two-thirds of the posts in the South African Police Service (SAPS) office tasked with crime research and statistics analysis are vacant.
The party says a reply to a parliamentary question states that 49 of 74 budgeted posts within the SAPS Research and Statistics office remain unfilled.
“Of the 25 positions that are currently filled, 13 are non-research related assignments,” crime spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard says in a statement.
‘This means that only 12 researchers and statisticians currently serve the entire SAPS with crime data – an abysmal state of affairs, which we believe reflects a real crisis of leadership within the police force,” she adds.
“Also of deep concern is the fact that the Ministry of Safety and Security failed to respond to another parliamentary question tabled by the DA, which asked for information on the expenditure of the Research and Statistics office over the past five years.
“While the Ministry revealed budgeting data, no information on spending was provided, hinting at the possibility of serious under-spending. This would not be surprising in lieu of the significant number of vacancies.
“Equally unsurprising is the fact that, according to the parliamentary reply, the Research and Statistics office “[did] not have the human resources” to provide information on the total number of documents it has produced over the past five years – as was also requested by the DA.”
Kohler Barnard says the police “needs to be able to gather, analyse and then disseminate crucial crime-related data in as effective a manner as possible” in order to tackle “our country’s crime epidemic head-on.”
She adds the present position is “untenable, especially given the significant resources – including a R202 million annual budget – allocated to the Crime Intelligence Division of the SAPS”.
The problem is not limited to mid-level posts – “as is illustrated by examining the chain of command up from the Crime and Research office. According to a recent SAPS circular, one of the 49 vacancies in the Crime and Research office appears to be the Section Head of Crime Research.
“The individual in this post, in turn, would usually report to the Crime Information Management unit, where, according to the circular, two director-level vacancies were being advertised. The next person up the ladder would be the Divisional Commander of the Crime Intelligence Division of the SAPS. Except, again, the position is vacant. And at the top of the pile, of course, we have a suspended National Police Commissioner.
“As we outlined in our August 2008 Criminal Justice plan, the DA believes that urgent measures need to be taken to enhance skills at all tiers of the Police Service, and bring an end to all political appointments. In particular, we believe in the need for international law enforcement best practice to be incorporated into SAPS training, and for the establishment of an elite training academy. In the mean time, our Police Service cannot hope to win the fight against crime if it does not properly staff units that have a central role to play in that mission,” Kohler Barnard says.