SAPS on Personnel Training: briefing

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28 February 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

28 February 2003

Documents handed out:
SAPS Training Presentation
SAPS Foundational Issues Presentation
Committee Programme for 2003

M E George (ANC)

SAPS plans to introduce annual tests on physical fitness to ensure that its members are in sound physical health. This was revealed after the Committee raised concern on the growing number of overweight officers. The committee was informed that SAPS training environment had undergone a dramatic reconstruction over the last two years and that SAPS had revisited certain aspects of training programme to ensure that it was aligned with its strategic objectives.

The committee heard that the training path had been linked to the career path and that key competencies had been clearly marked and set apart. The committee was further informed that SAPS had extended modalities of training beyond the training institutions to on the job training and that training had been modernised in terms of methodology to keep in touch with the changing socio-economic imperatives taking root in the country. The committee was informed that SAPS had an active training co-operation with several African countries.

The Chair informed the meeting that the presentation by SAPS would focus on the training of its members. He noted that in the past and at various committee meetings the issue of whether or not SAPS members received adequate training had cropped up. He urged members to engage SAPS meaningfully by giving suggestions on areas they feel improvement would be necessary.

Briefing By Commissioner Singh
Comm. Singh pointed out that SAPS was happy to engage the committee on this critical phase of personnel development. The presentation would focus on the basic training, detective work, station management, officer's programme, and statistics of in-takes and statistics of numbers trained over the last two years. She clarified that training should not be viewed as an end in itself but that there was need for a sustained efforts in order to keep the standards up.

Comm. Singh pointed out that the training environment had undergone a dramatic reconstruction over the last 2 years. SAPS had revisited certain aspects of training programme to ensure that it was aligned with its strategic objectives. The training path had been linked to the career path and that key competencies that were to be achieved had been clearly marked and set apart. SAPS had extended modalities of training beyond the training institutions to the on job training and that training has been modernised in terms of methodology to keep touch with the changing socio-economic imperatives taking root in the country.

Comm. Lombard informed the committee that the main focus of the basic training component was crime prevention and solving. He pointed out that SAPS had a set national standards that must be complied with in that proficiency issues touching on management, investigation, on the street (to be streetwise) and language were the key focal areas. He noted that members were taught on the imperative of duty of care to the public where for instance if in the opinion of the concerned officer a suspect posed a threat to the public then there was a duty to oppose bail. He observed that the assessment programme was more skills oriented and not theoretical.

Comm. Lombard explained the recruitment criteria by noting that under regulation 11[1][a][vii] members were required to be proficient at least in English and one of the other official languages. As selection criteria the fitness test focussed on the potential to be able to reach organisational standards after the basic training. These two crucial entry criteria go together with tactical standards and that they were compulsory for all functional members of the SAPS and that they were recognised as standards to be tested at least annually with implementation targeted at 2005.

Comm. Lombard noted that overall the basic training programme aimed at four goals namely: it aimed to provide the organisation with members that comply with its profile as a competent police official. It also aimed at reviewing the training methods in order to move from theory to practice and to create a logical flow in training. The final objective was the assessment of the impact of the training. This last component was a new invention that aimed at satisfying that the training achieves the desired results.

Comm. Phalane talked the committee through the training resource base infrastructure that SAPS maintained and noted with appreciation that most of the training facilities had been revamped and were in good shape. Most training institutions now had shooting ranges, a library for research purposes and gymnasiums for physical training. He informed the committee that in the year 2001/2002 a total of 2068 members were trained and that in 2002/2003 the number shot up to 7088 members.

Comm. Phalane noted that the leading training institution was the Pretoria college with a capacity of 1700 recruits followed by Bisho which after upgrading would take 700 recruits then Chatsworth with 144 recruits, Oudtshorn with 400 and Graaff-Reinet with 350 recruits. The field training officers programme graduated 1825 officers in the year 2002 and that overall in 2001/2002 a total of 79,520 members out of which 22% were females had be trained. He added that the figure in 2003/2003 financial year to the end of December is 53,589.

Comm. Phalane explained that the detective programme covered methodology on facilitation, group work, case studies, practical experiences and building dockets. He pointed out that in 2000/2001 a sum of 5495 members went through the programme and in 2001/2002 the number rose to 7311 and that the figure shot up again in 2002/2003 to 9764.

Comm. Phalane explained that the officers' programme targets the rank of Captain upwards and that the new promotion policy ensured that the programme was a pre-requisite for inspectors to be appointed to the rank of Captain. After undergoing the programme, the learner would be able to perform the compulsory tasks, which were expected of his office in SAPS in order to project a professional image and improve service delivery. He continued that the programme lasted 6 weeks and it was basically residential.

Comm. Phalane informed the committee that the station management programme that was being developed would introduce tactical management and general administration as a module. The programme would also cover community relations, financial management, logistical management, human resources management and specific service delivery. The target group for the programme would be station commanders and members to be appointed to that office. The duration for the programme would be 4 weeks residential with a toolkit and mentorship.

Mr Swart (DP) asked if language proficiency was part of the curriculum for in-service training to which Comm. Singh replied in the affirmative.

Mr Swart inquired what happened to serving members who did not have driving licences.

Comm. Lombard replied that driving licences were part of the recruitment requirement but that there was an independent programme running to cater for serving members who did not have driving licences which was funded by a donation from the EU.

The Chair asked what would become of the training institution after it had served its purpose.

Comm. Lombard replied that the institution would then convert to an advanced driving school, which was already part of the SAPS programme.

Mr. Swart inquired about the capacity for basic training in the current financial year.

Comm. Lomabard said that basic training would have far released 7279 members at the end of this year and that it was projected that next year's batch would be much higher.

Mr Swart sought for clarification on the training of officers from other countries noting that priority should always be given to the national training needs.

Comm. Singh clarified that training institutions basically serviced the needs of SAPS but that due to the collaboration agreements with other Africa countries especially joint border policing it became necessary to admit a few personnel from those countries for training.

Mr Ngubeni (ANC) inquired if basic training took into account personal development and family needs that members were so often confronted with noting that incidents of suicide had been on the increase among the SAPS ranks.

Comm. Singh pointed out that relevant modules had been built in the training programme to deal with softer issues that confront members and helped them maintain healthy life-styles.

Mr Clelland asked if SAPS used psychology tests to address officer's predisposition to suicidal tendencies.

Comm. Singh pointed out that SAPS had a very good unit of psychologists who carried out an in-house test on stress management, resilience, trauma and split second decisions among other tests.

Mr. Ngubeni noted that there was no mention of the relationship SAPS had with other Africa countries and lamented that every time SAPS refers to a co-operative venture it was with western nations to the exclusion of countries within the continent.

Comm. Singh confirmed that SAPS had a very active co-operation programme with other African countries especially within the SAPCO where training programmes are exchanged annually.

Mr Clelland (DP) noted that under Act 68/95 section 32 thereof - the national commissioner was mandated to determine the training curriculum for SAPS and asked if the Commissioner gave approval to the new curriculum.

Comm. Singh pointed out that the National Commissioner was part of the team that reviewed the training programme in conjunction with Provincial and divisional officers.

Mr. Clelland asked in their endeavour to achieve best practices standards SAPS ever utilised SANDF's research facilities.

Comm. Singh said that she had noted the suggestion on collaboration with SANDF on research and would take it up with the relevant structures to explore how this venture could be implemented.

Mr Clelland noted out that many students that joined SAPS come from ot
her Departments and wondered if these people were given credits for what they might had accumulated from their previous station.

Comm. Lombard said that many reservists were joining the service already armed with a wealth of experience and that there were situations of departmental transfers in which case credits were duly acknowledged and given.

Mr Clelland asked to what extent the basic training programme empowered members toward keeping healthy life-styles.

Comm. Singh replied that the trauma-training component was compulsory for members to address and arrest suicidal tendencies among members of the service.

Mr Clelland (DP) inquired if the committee is allowed to visit the SAPS training facilities in its oversight role.

The Chair replied in the affirmative noting that the committee had every right and indeed the mandate to visit and inspect any structure within the police service that fell under its oversight portfolio.

Mr Gaum (NNP) expressed concern that the figure for the members that left the force did not tally well with those that passed out of the training institutions.

Comm. Singh noted that statistics showed that SAPS had so far lost about 3000 members against the 7000 it had trained.

Mr Gaum (NNP) asked what the new recruits earn as salaries.

Comm. Singh explained that entry salary at level 3 is around R4400.

Ms Sosibo (ANC) noted that most of what was acquired at the training institutions was lost when members were confronted with the stark realities of the police work and asked if there were any specific interventions to remedy this development.

Ms Van Wyk (UDM) concurred with Ms Sosibo and pointed out that SAPS did not seem to have mechanisms for measuring the out comes of the training programme and asked how this deficiency would be addressed.

Comm. Singh acknowledged the fact that although the training standards were good these gains thereof were often not realised in practice. SAPS had institutionalised regular performance monitoring and where weaknesses were identified remedial measures were immediately instituted and that is why there was a programme to capacitate station commanders.

Mr Zondo (ANC) asked where the dog unit fitted intp the training programme and whether SAPS was satisfied with the content of training as it is currently constituted.

Comm. Lombard pointed out that the dog unit was under the crime prevention division noting that the ugly incident involving members of the dog unit was never part of the curriculum for basic training. The dog unit is only deployed in serious crimes and not minor ones.

The Chair directed that since police dogs were trained by another division, the committee would find time to engage them on a separate occasion noting that there were many burning questions the committee would like answered by the unit.

Mr Zondo (ANC) lamented that the aspect of members' physical fitness was not satisfactory noting that many members were conspicuously overweight and asked if the issue was being addressed.

The Chair concurred that the issue of physical fitness must be addressed urgently and pointed out that when the committee visited Brazil officers were subjected to a compulsory programme of testing fitness annually.

Comm. Lombard replied that SAPS had launched a gymnasium programme and that five to ten gyms had been established throughout the provinces to offer physical training facilities to members. SAPS was considering the introduction of regular tests on physical fitness.

Ms Van Wyk asked how members were trained on the fundamentals of new legislation given that there had been a host of legal changes that affected the operational aspects of the SAPS.

Comm. Singh replied that SAPS legal Department discusses new developments in legislation and updates members accordingly.

The Chair expressed dismay that during the committee's visit to the Northern Cape none of the officers there could communicate in English.

Comm. Lombard acknowledged that there was a very serious problem with the understanding of the English language, which was also felt in the training institutions and pointed out that the only solution so far was to make English proficiency an integral component of the training.

Comm. Phalane said that each Province often decides which language was predominately spoken and incorporated it in the training curriculum.

The Chair asked who carried the costs for the training of members from other African countries.

Comm. Phalane explained that training institutions only focussed on training SAPS members and that the few representatives from other African countries paid for their own costs save for meals and accommodation which SAPS provide as a gesture of courtesy.

The Chair referred to the presidential speech, which underscored the quality of services that should be delivered and inquired how basic training implemented this.

Comm. Lombard reiterated that everything possible was being done to ensure that the quality of training was consistently high and that this measure was extended to the continuing service delivery program. This was where the newly introduced in-service program for station commanders fits in the equation.

The Chair asked if role player centre programme had been budgeted for in the current financial year.

Comm. Singh replied in the affirmative and confirmed that the item on role player centres featured in the current budget.

The Chair noted that the main problem with the SAPS was the lack of investigative capacity in that it had reached an absurd situation where the Justice Department blamed SAPS for delaying investigations and where such were complete they are too poor to sustain a conviction. He observed that SAPS tended to do very little investigations before making arrests unlike in developed countries where three quarters of investigations were completed before an arrest is made. He reiterated the significance of maintaining standards in the field to ensure that what was taught in basic training would be applied at the work place.

Meeting was adjourned.


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