n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Crime combating in perspective : a strategic approach to policing and the prevention of crime

Volume 19, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The lack of clarity and understanding, in general, of what crime combating or crime fighting entails, lead to unrealistic expectations of what the police are capable of and, consequently, to unfair blaming of the police when crime levels are high. In this article it will be argued that blaming of the police is largely due to misconceptions about the meaning and implications of concepts such as crime combating, policing and crime prevention. These arguments are supported by an analysis of policy development for the police and for policing, as well as the strategic and operational approaches to crime combating in South Africa. The relationship between crime and national security in South Africa is also briefly discussed, as well as the need for a concomitant national security policy and national security strategy.

This article questions the conceptual and terminological correctness of section 205(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, which prescribes the responsibilities ("objects") of the South African Police Service. The absence of terminological and conceptual clarity in the Constitution, which is the starting point for determining the police's role in the combating of crime, clearly exacerbates the existing confusion and supports public perceptions that the police must "prevent" crime. No other South African legislation provides any further guidance on this matter. The situation is further complicated by the discrepancy between statute and policy. This adds to the difficulties and uncertainty about the overall location of responsibilities, especially with regard to government departments. It is for this purpose that a defining model for crime combating is proposed, depicting the place of both crime prevention and policing within the broader framework of crime combating or crime fighting. Finally, it is argued that crime combating should form part of an overarching national security policy and a national security strategy which should be coordinated by a national coordinating structure and not by the police or even the criminal justice system.

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