Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

7 November 2013

South Africa: ISS - Were SA Crime Stats Cooked Deliberately?

Photo: SAPA stringer
Armoured police patrol (file photo).

analysis

Two months after their release, analysts are questioning the veracity of the national crime statistics for 2012/13.

The Institute for Security Studies on Wednesday asked whether the police had intentionally manipulated the statistics to make government look better in an election year. The police, however, insist the ISS just does not understand its methods of calculation.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on Wednesday called for an independent inquiry into this year's crime statistics as released by the South African Police Services (SAPS). According to the ISS, the country's 2012/13 crime trends were incorrectly reported because officials at a national level made "a serious statistical error".

An error in calculation is serious but the ISS is also raising speculation that the police intentionally manipulated the statistics to make government look better.

"What we are asking is why did this error occur and at what level was it sanctioned?" ISS Governance, Crime and Justice division head Gareth Newham asked. "The effect of this miscalculation is that it downplays the extent to which certain serious violent crime categories are rising in SA, while exaggerating those categories that are decreasing."

Significantly, it's not the crime totals that are in dispute...

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