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Tech to reduce crime

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The South African Police Service (SAPS) will revitalise its policing systems through technology, as it attempts to reduce crime levels in the country.

Following the release of the annual crime statistics last week, police minister Nathi Mthethwa notes the SAPS will adopt a more concerted approach to the role technology and intelligence can play in reducing crime levels.

“We have recognised that intelligence should act as a nerve centre and has a crucial role to play in all aspects of policing. We are currently revitalising our technology and intelligence component. Part of this revitalisation includes ensuring the integration of technology and intelligence into all aspects of policing,” he says.

Mthethwa says that, while the overall crime rates have gone up, the break-down of crime trends over the past year prove there are areas where progress is being made.

“At the same time, there are other areas where we are still lagging behind. Nevertheless, the ANC government remains unmoved in its commitment to securing a better life for all and the fight against crime is an integral part of this effort,” he adds.

Small business

Mthethwa says commercial crime remains a major concern and statistics reveal the small business sector is most affected by robberies.

“It accounts for almost two-thirds of all business robberies. Unless this matter is addressed vigorously, it could perpetuate one of the apartheid fault-lines. We need also to look at what technological measures can be introduced to assist in reducing the risks incurred by small business,” he says.

While not going into any detail, Mthethwa says a joint SAPS, business initiative is being piloted in Johannesburg central and Tembisa. The focus of these solutions would specifically be on robberies at small businesses. The lessons learnt from these two pilots will need to be rolled out to other areas of the country, he adds.

Vehicle theft

Mthethwa adds that other interventions are in the pipeline and the SAPS is reviewing the situation and developing short- and long-term measures.

“In dealing with the local markets for stolen and hijacked vehicles, we are also going to make greater use of technology to assist us in tracking and identifying such vehicles. Technology, such as automated number plate recognition, has already been piloted within SAPS,” he says.

He adds that systems would be introduced to strengthen cooperation between regional police agencies. This would strengthen the implementation of regional protocols and agreements surrounding the movement of vehicles and increase capacity to embark on strategic joint operations, he says.

DNA bill

Mthethwa also calls for increased integration of various departments involved in the criminal justice environment. While the work that has been done over the last year provides a strong base, more still has to be done, he says.

“We are also hoping that the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill will be finalised during the fourth session of Parliament this year,” he says.

The proposed legislation would allow for the creation of an extensive DNA profiling system with the aim of strengthening the police service's crime-fighting initiatives. The amendment Bill provides for the expansion of the SAPS's powers to take and retain fingerprint and DNA samples. It also allows for the establishment, administration and use of a DNA database as a criminal intelligence tool.

”Government is unshakeable in its resolve to fight crime. In areas where there have been positive in-roads, we will continue to work hard and smart to entrench these successes. Accordingly, in areas where there have been some increases in crime, we shall work together to find solutions,” says Mthethwa.

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