Plural Policing Study briefing by Institute of Criminology

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20 June 2007
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

20 June 2007

Ms M Sotyu (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Accountability of Plural Policing in the City of Cape Town

Ms Julie Berg, from the Institute of Criminology, briefed the committee on the findings of the research on Plural Policing, which was conducted in three City Improvement Districts in Cape Town. The study did not extend to the rural areas, nor the provinces. Plural policing involved everyone who formed a direct or indirect part of policing, from the SA Police Services right down to neighbourhood watch. There had been a rise in security networks and private security worldwide. This ranged through state police, private security, communities, businesses, to neighbourhood watches. There had been a rise of security networks in South Africa, particularly the CIDs, and it was also an international phenomenon. There had also been a greater involvement of policing and security networks on the ground by the combined involvement in policing. Partnerships had formed between the S A Police Service (SAPS) and private security bodies such as the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) and Metro Police, especially in the City Improvement Districts, as they were working to common goals. The role of the SAPS had changed in these districts. Challenges included the need to define the role of PSIRA, which currently registered private security members but did not oversee them nor their employers. The Independent Complaints Directorate would not proactively engage in oversight. There was a need for better partnerships and definition of roles. There was a need for re-conceptualisation of policing, and awareness of policing changes on the ground, as well as a need to re-evaluate oversight bodies and check their functions against realities on the ground. The Patten Commission in Northern Ireland provided possible guidelines. The Institute had recommended leaving the working partnerships in their current form, but encouraging community buy in.

Members raised questions on budgeting, the broader role that Community Police Forums could play, whether these were involved in meetings of the SAPS and private security firms, the situation with arrests and patrols, the statistical information to show improvements, whether the private security was fulfilling the role and mandate of the police, and whether there would be formalisation of partnerships in areas where these did not already exist. The Institute's programmes in rural areas, clarity on the different police, concern about duplication of duties, and the responsibility of oversight over illegal companies were also discussed. It was noted that private security companies could not function entirely on their own in the city improvement districts, and that the community police forums were being restructured.

Plural Policing Briefing by Institute of Criminology, University of Cape Town (UCT)
Ms Julie Berg, Researcher and Lecturer, Institute of Criminology, UCT, indicated that the research on plural policing had formed part of a specialist issue in the African Security and Justice programme at the Institute. It was noted that the research was conducted on the accountability of plural policing in Cape Town, and did not extend to looking at the provinces.  The research was conducted in 2006/2007 and she chose three case studies by using three City Improvement Districts (CID). The CIDs were chosen because they presented a new form of governance and policy dynamics within these urban areas. They were Cape Town Central, Epping (industrial), and Claremont (residential and business). 
Ms Berg explained that plural policing involved everyone who formed a direct or indirect part of policing. This ranged through state police, private security, communities, businesses, to neighbourhood watches. There had been a rise of security networks in South Africa, particularly the CIDs, and it was also an international phenomenon. There had also been a greater involvement of policing and security networks on the ground by the combined involvement in policing.

There had been a high degree of partnering between S A Police Service (SAPS) and private security companies and this was particularly evident in the CID, where they had joint operations, sharing of resources, exchange of information, sharing of communication and regular meetings. The private security companies outside the CID acknowledged that private security companies had a greater degree of co-operation with State police in the CID than anywhere else. City Improvement Districts had mobilised people and tapped into the resources that they needed to effectively secure and police the geographical areas for which they were responsible. SAPS' role had changed in the CIDs since private companies had engaged in visible policing. For example, although the SAPS still had a monopoly on cohesive force by effecting arrests, they would not offer visible policing due to lack of capacity. Other private forms of policing would do he visible policing. There was a need for community buy in and The Minister of Safety and Security had referred to this when she said that there were not enough police and enough resources to overcome the complexity of crime. The SAPS and private security companies were working together towards a common goal.

Ms Berg stressed that similar roles of private security policing could also be evident in areas outside the CID, but that the main focus of this research was on the CID. The private security companies would act as force multipliers by assisting the police and handing over suspects and relevant evidence to the police, who would then take the matter further. In the CID the private security companies and SAPS had aligned their goals as a result of similar interests. The CID managed their clients, and had a particular idea of what visible policing should entail, thus private security was now patrolling public parts of the city. This was evident from the metro police, who were broadly involved in security not only in patrolling public spaces in the city, but also in physical environment issues of dealing with crime and grime issues. There was a possibility of abuse by individuals.

In the CID there was a need for public space security in the streets that were publicly accessible, and for private space security, which was generally not accessible to the public without good cause. Mass private property, such as shopping malls, fell between the two. Private security used to monitor private spaces only, but then included malls, and had recently started patrolling public spaces such as the streets of Cape Town. It had now developed into the face of policing and everything it did impacted on public perceptions of policing, and not necessarily on private security alone. The private security companies in the CID formed broader networks, due to accountability to the CID, which answered to the ratepayers such as businesses. The private security companies in these areas had to form good relationships with SAPS to effectively carry out their duty in attaining the goals of visible policing.

Ms Berg conducted interviews with oversight bodies such as the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) and the Provincial Secretariat of the Western Cape. She found that these bodies largely operated without co-ordination of activities with one another. PSIRA usually worked in isolation, and the other oversight bodies only liased with PSIRA for technical issues such as registration of a new security guard hired. There was an attempt by the Provincial Secretariat to co ordinate with ICD, but there was a dichotomy between public and private oversight bodies that led to the  level of division. Other oversight bodies were not aware of the existence of PSIRA. There had been a lack of resources or capacity to fulfill mandates.  PSIRA had five inspectors to deal with the entire province, and ICD had double this number of inspectors although it did oversight over fewer people. Private companies complained that they were not getting the service expected from the PSIRA. There were much deeper issues that oversight bodies could not resolve and PSIRA was not expected to resolve problems in the private security industry such as illegal companies, abuse of power, or lack of training. If a private security officer were to assault someone, PSIRA would not deal with this issue as it was limited to registration of that officer. If he were fired, he could simply be re-hired by another company without the issue being investigated or resolved. Ms Berg suggested that the private security companies should get human rights training to avoid the possible abuses of power by staff.

Many oversight bodies were currently defining themselves according to their function and it would be good if they could overlap their duties, especially in view of the current negative perceptions of oversight bodies. It was up to SAPS to prosecute a private security guard who committed an offence, but only if they had oversight. There was some tension between the independence of oversight bodies, yet their need to engage with root causes of problems. The Provincial Secretariat would visit police stations regularly and find out why these were not functioning, but ICD would respond only to specific events reported to it. She suggested that dedicated oversight bodies would be useful. The built-in oversight of structures such as the community police forums (CPF) was picked up through reporting rather than specific focused oversight. Ms Berg reported that the findings were that that private security had more powers and was pervasive in South Africa, which had the highest proportion of private security companies in the world. The blurring of duties and the need for a better partnership between the various entities was acknowledged, since private companies were taking on more roles that were originally done by the SAPS. Partnerships should be more guarded and formalised. The debate on the effectiveness of PSIRA suggested that it must either evolve to deal with new challenges faced by private security, or there was a need for a new body. There was a complaint that PSIRA did not oversee, but merely regulated private security, and there was a need to acknowledge that it was running the business of policing and must play more of a human rights role. It was alternatively suggested that the provincial secretariat take up the role of mapping out the levels of abuse committed by the private security industry.

Challenges were identified from the results of the study. The mobilisation of policing entities on the ground, but lack of mobilisation of oversight bodies caused problems. Ms Berg was still grappling with whether officers who committed assaults should be dealt with by their own companies or by a single oversight body that should monitor the entire private security sector. Internationally, State police organisations were undergoing an identity crisis as they did not know what their role was because of plural policing. A Singapore study had produced a diagram showing how the State police had moved from their traditional core policing role to form one node of policing.

Ms Berg noted that the study had recommended the need for re-conceptualisation of policing, and awareness of policing changes on the ground . There was a need to re-evaluate oversight bodies and check their functions against realities on the ground. A few years ago the Patten Commission, an independent body studying policing in Northern Ireland, had looked at policing boards, overseeing all bodies involved in policing and managing policing budgets for which all had to tender. The Cape Town Partnership managed most of the CIDs and had a budget, which was largely for security, but under the new form of governance it was able to use the budget as it saw fit. There was the possibility of learning lessons from Northern Ireland. Ms Berg suggested that perhaps partnerships between SAPS and private bodies be left in their current form, for fear of damaging the existing good relationships if changes were to be forced. She added that the Cape Town CPFs played a role depending on the ‘buy in’ and balance of needs.

The Chairperson thanked the presenter, and mentioned that if she had received the presentation earlier she would have also have invited PSIRA, SAPS and the Provincial Secretariat to come to this meeting. She noted that the ANC wanted to regulate and formalise the CPFs by putting them under municipalities.

Ms Berg responded that PSIRA had held a workshop with all the other stakeholders and Ms Berg would also host another workshop to report on her research, where all relevant stakeholders would have the opportunity to comment.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) referred to the recommendations on the Patten Commission and asked if the budget came from government or the private sector. He asked what was the role of the CPF,  if support was needed from the budget for the policing of streets.

Ms Berg replied that she had brought with her a copy of the Canada Law Commission Report, which dealt with policing boards and which might answer Rev Meshoe's questions.  Their budget was a public budget and was assigned to municipalities. Certain states in Canada conducted experiments where they took budget from the state police and gave to municipalities, who then forced the State police to tender for work. There was no CPF mentioned in the Patten Commission, but there might be structures with similar roles.

Rev Meshoe requested clarity on the broader role that CPF could play.

Ms Berg mentioned that the CPFs became a forum where the variety of role players could meet and gave them space to discuss issues. It encouraged relationships and openness due to the safe space provided. The CPFs had potential to encourage the ‘buy in' by various players and to utilise their resources.
Rev Meshoe asked for elaboration on the CID private security.
Ms Berg replied that CID was used as an abbreviation for City Improvement Districts private security.

Ms J Sosibo (ANC) referred to the regular meetings between SAPS and private security, and asked about the involvement of CPF in these meetings.

Ms Berg answered that these bodies did have a range of meetings on their own, including some with the CPF. Furthermore there were weekly forums between SAPS and private security companies, and sometimes other entities such as the CPF. There were both separate and joint meetings.
Ms Sosibo asked about patrolling done by PSIRA, and whether they were working together with Metro. In cases where arrests had to take place she asked what the private companies would do.

Ms Berg replied that it was difficult for her to ascertain the levels of working relationships. There seemed not to be much co-operation between Metro Police and Private Security presently, although there used to be a history of involvement. In the CID, private security companies would call whomever they needed to assist with arrest. For example, they might make the arrest themselves and take the offender to the police. If there was a by-law infringement they would call the Metro Police. The Private Security had complained of the slow response that they sometimes received from the Metro Police

Ms K Barnard (DA) asked if there were formal results that could indicate the percentage improvement of these districts where private security has moved from the home into the streets.

Ms Berg said that there were results from CID on their crime statistics, but it was necessary to note the displacement of crime. Certain types of crime had been dealt with successfully in the CID, along with mass cleanups in areas like the station deck. There were perceptions by State police that there had been less street crime since private security became involved.

Ms Barnard enquired whether the private security fulfilled the statement in the State of the Nation address that visible policing would be a priority. She asked if the private security was fulfilling a mandate that the President gave to the police.

Ms Berg replied that in the CID the private security were fulfilling that role, but not in the outlying areas. The CID represented a range of businesses, and ratepayer individuals and looked at broad areas. If they were to take over this mandate formally they would need more training, particularly in areas of human rights and legal knowledge, and the lack of this was once of the reasons further co-operation would not develop outside the CID. The City District managers hired the best private security guards that were unlikely to transgress the law.

Ms Barnard referred to the formalisation of partnerships and the suggestion that regulation might disrupt the existing relationships. She asked about those areas where there was no relationship between the SAPS and private security, and whether here steps would be taken to ensure that relationships would be formed. She asked if the formalisation of partnerships would be advantageous in regulating these relationships.

Ms Berg replied that in areas where there was no relationship between the two this had resulted from divergence of goals. In the CID there was a common goal, which justified the partnerships. Another explanation for relationships not being formed was that the private security companies did not require police service in particular lines of work, such as guarding. Furthermore, should partnerships be formalised, there would need to be an extensive enquiry into the types of relationships to be formed, and how this would be done.

Mr L Diale (ANC) asked whether the Institute of Criminology was establishing itself in the rural areas.

Ms Berg responded that she focused on CID due to her interest in the development of private security that was prevalent in these areas. The Institute did have a programme that looked at assisting communities to police themselves, because there was a different type of private policing which differed from that in the urban areas. Her focus was on urban development, and the comments she had made would not necessarily pertain to rural areas.

Mr S Moatshe (ANC) commented that South Africa had a large private security industry, which was divided into its own categories. He requested clarity on State police, marine police, private security paid by state funds and the difference in their roles. He was particularly concerned about duplications across these various bodies.

Ms Berg replied that the duplication of duties was not necessarily a factor, because private security was involved in various policing activities. Those policing areas where there could be  duplication would be detective work and visibility in policing, which formed a segment of the policing sector. There was no duplication regarding specialised services.

The Chairperson remarked that she had learned a lot from the presentation by Ms Berg. She suggested that the Committee should visit all the private security companies. She further believed it was the responsibility of PSIRA to exercise oversight over the illegal companies She was concerned about the lack of visibility of PSIRA as private security companies did not know about PSIRA. That raised questions as to their mandate. She acknowledged issues of capacity amongst the police, but noted that private security companies could not be expected to function on their own because they did not have powers of arrest, nor the power to carry  firearms. She reiterated that the ANC was in the process of restructuring the CPFs and giving them a broader mandate. She expressed interest in what was happening in the rural areas regarding safety, and noted that this kind of information would be appreciated in provinces such as KZN and Gauteng.

Committee business
The Chairperson circulated the draft programme for the third term, which would be adopted next term.

The meeting was adjourned.


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