South Africa: How Failure Could Ultimately Save South African Policing

analysis

If police learn from their mistakes and implement those lessons, South Africa could become a safer place.

First published by ISS Today

South Africa's recently released crime statistics reveal worrying increases in violent crime for the last quarter of 2020, including for murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery and rape. They show that rising murder levels that started in 2012 are continuing and nothing done since then is working to reduce them.

Has the South African Police Service (SAPS) failed? Of course, it has. But so have all government departments, corporations and non-profit organisations, and not only in relation to crime. At some point, we all fail. Failure is inevitable, but learning from failure is not.

The world failed to prepare for the current pandemic. But it has since demonstrated the value of testing, observing, failing and learning in the face of catastrophe, stemming the spread of Covid-19 and developing multiple vaccines in record time.

Similarly, evidence-based policing offers a vehicle through which the SAPS can turn its inevitable failures into victories. Learning from failure is one of the most effective ways to save resources and improve impact.

The SAPS spends billions of rand each year, without significantly enhancing public safety...

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