The Role of National Crime Prevention Strategy in South Africa

The crime rates in the country are incredibly high, which poses a severe threat to the country’s democracy. Crime is also a violation of people’s human rights, so there must be a solution to reduce crime rates. The National Crime Prevention Strategy is one of the solutions implemented to reduce the high crime rates.

The National Crime Prevention Strategy was developed as a long-term program that would create conditions that would reduce the motivation and opportunities for crime, while also transforming the criminal justice system’s capacity to handle crime.

The Aim of National Crime Prevention Strategy

The government developed the National Crime Prevention Strategy through extensive research and analysis based on international experiences. The aims and objectives of the NCPS are:

  • The creation of a policy framework that allows the government to address crime in a manner that will enable the use of resources from all government agencies.
  • The sharing and promotion of the shared vision of how crime will be tackled as a nation. The vision should allow for initiatives that can occur on both the provincial and local levels.
  • The development of national programmes aimed at kick-starting and focusing on the efforts from various government departments to deliver better services that will resolve the issues that contribute to high crime levels.
  • Increasing civil society’s participation to mobilise and sustain initiatives aimed at crime prevention.
  • Having a dedicated crime prevention capacity that researches and evaluates departmental and public campaigns while also facilitating successful crime prevention programmes at local and provincial levels.

The difference in the National Crime Prevention Strategy is it moves from mainly focusing on taking a reactive stance towards crime control by allocating resources to responding after crimes to shifting towards becoming more proactive and concentrate on crime prevention. The crime prevention strategy considers the following challenges:

  • The crime data that exists that might be unreliable and misleading and then gaining more reliable crime information will enable the deployment of resources aimed at strategic planning.
  • The media’s representation of crime plays a role in shaping the public’s perceptions.
  • The country’s political history has also played a role in the legitimation of violence associated with politics, which has led to the decriminalisation of some categories of crimes related to intergroup conflict or political rivalries. This has led to some blurring regarding legitimate forms of protests and those regarded as criminal activity.
  • The country’s violent history has also left behind a “culture of violence” that has contributed to the country’s high levels of violence; influencing criminal activity.
  • The poverty levels that are historically shaped are also a factor that contributes to the increasing crime levels. Some cultural and sociopolitical factors have contributed to the growth of gangs and crime syndicates.
  • The marginalisation of the youth in the job market, combined with the slow economic growth, has created many “at-risk” young people.
  • The easy access to firearms contributes to violent crime and the escalation of violence levels related to rape, robbery, and car theft. 

Four Pillars of National Crime Prevention Strategy

The government created the four-pillar approach to develop crime prevention initiatives at the municipal and provincial levels; the pillars include:

Pillar 1: The Criminal Justice Process

The first pillar focuses on making the criminal justice system more effective and efficient. It also provides a method to deter criminals and reducing the risk that they will become re-offenders. The programmes involved in this pillar include:

  • Increasing the criminal justice system’s effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Increasing the access that dis-empowered groups have to the criminal justice system.
  • Allocating resources of the criminal justice system for priority crimes.
  • The integration of inter-departmental management and policies for coordinated planning, action and use of resources.
  • Improving the service victims of crime receive during the criminal justice process by increasing accessibility and sensitivity to their needs.

Pillar 2: Reducing Crime through Environmental Design

The main objective of the pillar is to increase safety through the development of crime prevention considerations. The second pillar aims to design systems that reduce the opportunities for crime to occur and improve the detection and identification of criminals. Some of the objectives of this pillar include:

  • Increasing awareness of possibilities of environmental design in decreasing and preventing crime.
  • Encouraging the use of environmental designs in areas such as the design of delivery systems.

Pillar 3: Public Values and Education

The third pillar is concerned with initiatives that will change how communities react to crime and violence. The existing moral climate within communities and their attitudes towards crime plays a role in their willingness to take responsibility towards crime and are essential factors in reducing crime tolerance. Therefore, the pillar aims:

  • For the general public to get a better understanding of the criminal justice system so that there is full participation from them.
  • To increase their awareness of crime so that there is the development of stronger community values that increases the society’s pressure against criminality.
  • For the promotion of nonviolent conflict resolution, awareness of gender issues, and empowering sectors affected by victimisation.

Pillar 4: Trans-national Crime

The programmes in the fourth pillar aim to improve the control of cross border traffic relating to crime as international and regional criminal syndicates play a role in the promotion in South Africa. The aim of this pillar is:

  • Encouraging the restriction of the smuggling of commodities across borders by increasing the regulation of border zones and any other ports of entry.
  • The coordination and mobilisation of border policing of resources in Southern Africa.
  • Improving the coordination between South African agencies for better border regulation, implementing immigration policy, and controlling ports of entry.
  • Deploying intelligence capacity to look into regional movements and the methods used by crime syndicates.

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