Presentation on the National Crime Prevention Strategy

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Justice and Correctional Services

14 March 1999
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Meeting report

JUSTICE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

JUSTICE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 March 1999
PRESENTATION ON THE NATIONAL CRIME PREVENTION STRATEGY

Documents handed out:

Slide presentation on the programmes of the National Crime Prevention Strategy
(available shortly)

SUMMARY
Dr Fanaroff, Deputy Director General of the Secretariat for Safety and Security gave a presentation on the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) to the committee. He listed the programmes which the NCPS are involved in as well as which programmes would be a priority for the year.

MINUTES
Dr Fanaroff, Deputy Director General of the Secretariat for Safety and Security, began with the origins of the National Crime Prevention Strategy . He said that it had been approved by Cabinet in 1996 as a new strategy for dealing with crime. Two aspects which it focussed on was inter-departmental cooperation and crime prevention.

Dr Fanaroff listed the 4 "pillars" or strategies in dealing with crime:
1) re-engineering of the criminal justice system and improving inter-departmental co-operation.
2) impede trans-national crime.
3) social crime prevention dealing with causal factors and violence prevention
4) situational crime prevention, including environmental design.

The seven priority areas for the NCPS were:
1) firearms;
2) motor vehicle theft, including hijacking;
3) organised crime;
4) white collar and commercial crime;
5) crime against women and children;
6) inter-group violence;
7) corruption.

Dr Fanaroff informed the committee that the NCPS programmes had been reviewed last week and it was concluded that the short-term process/action should be integrated with the long-term process. Previously the NCPS had focussed heavily on the long-term process.

The findings of the national victimisation survey was published last year. Four thousand households were surveyed last year. From the findings it was concluded that common crimes were generally committed against poverty-stricken groups. Livestock and bicycle theft as well as housebreaking were highlighted as common crimes. The police service was not geared toward these type of crimes, according to Dr Fanaroff. From the survey it was also found that violent crimes most commonly occurred in and around the home, amongst family members or people who know one another.

The list of programmes of the NCPS were followed with a brief progress report. These included the following:
Secure care facilities - Buildings which would serve as secure care facilities, existed in almost all the provinces except Western and Northern Cape. The Welfare Department would be involved in the staffing process.
Witness Protection Programme - This programme was completed on time and within the budget given. The basic infrastructure had been completed and the programme had been taken over by the Justice Department. The NCPS will be asking the Department to evaluate the programme in the near future.
Upgrading of Justice infrastructure - This is more-or-less completed. The offices of the old TBVC states were mostly affected with no water facilities, insufficient furniture, etc. As a result of the improved infrastructure, the morale of the staff has increased.
Training of offenders by Correctional Services - The buildings for computerised learning were not on schedule. A research organisation would have to evaluate the viability of the programme.
Human Resource training in the Justice Department - This programme had been successfully completed. Approximately 150 prosecutors and magistrates were trained. A joint training course of investigators and prosecutors had been undertaken as well.
Programme management system - There was a serious lack of management in government. There was a need to create reporting and mentoring systems.
Automated Finger-printing System - The manual system was not working as it was ineffective and slow. The NCPS had found a government willing to assist in funding the automated system, but was unable to expound on it.
Crime scene handling - Tape was needed to cordon off the scene as evidence was lost or destroyed. The RDP was not able to allocate money for tape. With the result, tape would have to come out of the Department's budget.
Bail - A study was undertaken. The Justice and Police Departments had these recommendations and will ascertain what could be implemented.
Escapes - Departments are to make reports on this issue.
Border Control - Part of the steering committee on border control included the Department of Home Affairs and the Intelligence Agency. The NCPS had been involved in building eleven border posts. Cabinet had decided to close some commercial traffic posts; presently there are only nineteen posts. The border posts will be connected via satellite and a task team at Johannesburg Airport would deal with problems.
Commercial Crime - Business Against Crime has been dealing with this. Major commercial crime is to be prioritised and will be reviewed.
Narcotics - The Drug Master Plan was tabled and approved by Cabinet. The narcotics programme will rest with the Drug Authority Board and they will have to report to the Minister of Welfare.
Safer Cities - This dealt with urban safety. Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town have programmes in place and are funding it themselves. One of the important programmes of the NCPS is the local crime prevention programme, which entails safer cities with environmental design. A local crime prevention manual has been drawn up as well as a check list on environmental design, i.e. what principles should be enforced when erecting a building to prevent crime in the area.
Victim Empowerment - This programme has been headed by the Welfare Ministry as well as Justice, Correctional Services and several NGOs.
The Chairperson interrupted the presentation and said that he had not come across such a programme. Dr Fanaroff replied that it was only running in particular areas, such as Port Elizabeth. Police were trained in knowing how to treat victims of crime and the environment of children's courts has changed to make it more accessible to children.
Domestic Violence - in order to break the cycle of family violence the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act of 1998 needed to happen.
Community Safety Centre - This was an interdepartmental programme.

Other programmes included the prevention of gang-related crime. The NCPS is looking for a multi-dimension plan. They are working with the Western Cape Government. By the end of the month a proposal would have to be drawn up for this programme. Other programmes are the anti-alcohol abuse, illegal immigration and school management and safety programmes.

Questions by committee members
Mr Mahlangu (ANC) wanted to know what was the syllabus for the joint training of prosecutors. He also asked how security at border posts could be tightened. Dr Fanaroff was unable to answer the question on the syllabus. Regarding the border posts, he said that there was a lack of coordination amongst the border posts. Posts do need tightening up and an information centre will be set up so as to link the borders. The border line control had been taken over by the SANDF and smuggling through the line has decreased.

Mr Mzizi (IFP) asked why it took so long for the NCPS to realise that the short term action was as important as the longer term action. He also wanted to know what measures were taken to encourage city safety.

Response: Concerning the importance of the short term action, it was said that there was a debate initially on what was deemed operational and what was not. Also departments were apprehensive about working together as they thought they would lose their independence. This impeded the realisation that short term actions had to be integrated with the longer term ones. The Safer Cities Programme had a different system for each city. Problems were addressed as they arose.

Mr Solomons (ANC) asked why there was no public education programme regarding the NCPS . Dr Fanaroff replied that the NCPS was working on a communication strategy. He said that even some officials in the justice system did not know about the workings of the NCPS.

Mr Landers (ANC) wanted to know what steps were taken to improve forensic techniques. There was a move towards a DNA database, replied Dr Fanaroff, but he did not have detailed knowledge of it.

Ms Jana (ANC) wanted to know if the committee could get a holistic breakdown of the programmes dealing specifically with women and children.
Response: One of the programmes was the Victim Empowerment Programme Efforts were fragmented, however the programme was working well in the Port Shepstone area. The intention was to get more uniform action for the programme.

Ms Ngwane (ANC) asked about the quality of the dockets presented in court.
Dr Fanaroff responded that the quality of the dockets was a long way off. One of the problems with dockets is that it is first seen by prosecutors in court. The problem with dockets has become a police priority.

The presentation continued with other NCPS programmes highlighted. The motor vehicle crime programme. The strategy was to "keep it legal", "keep it whole" and "keep it in South Africa". Business Against Crime was paying for the implementation of the strategy. Linked to this programme was the need to improve the registration process to avoid illegal licencing of vehicles.

The firearms programme would be the primary focus for the year. There was the need to control legal as well as illegal firearms.

More questions were asked by members. Regarding the completion of the docket process, Mr Mzizi (IFP) wanted to know if there was a computer programme in place for this task. The reply was that it would fall under the integrated justice system and money was needed for such expensive equipment.

An ANC member asked if the violent crimes on television contributed to the culture of violence. Dr Fanaroff said that a whole range of factors contributed to the culture of violence; not only television.

The Chairperson thanked Dr Fanaroff for the presentation and asked him to distribute the slide presentation to the members before the debate on the NCPS on Thursday.

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