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- Volume 21, Issue 1, 2008
Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Volume 21, Issue 1, 2008
Volumes & issues
Volume 21, Issue 1, 2008
Actuarial based offender assessment : an evaluation of the reliability of the Self-Appraisal Questionnaire (SAQ)Author J. PrinslooSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 21, pp 1 –10 (2008)More Less
The South African Department of Correctional Services (DCS) redirected its strategic focus towards the transformation of prisons, with specific emphasis on the rehabilitation of offenders and the delivery of appropriate needs-based programmes as part of a holistic sentence planning strategy. These objectives are related to the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model that is contextualised within a general personality and cognitive social learning theory of criminal conduct, based upon the principles of risk, need and responsivity. It is proposed that sound actuarial assessments need to be used together with clinical approaches to enhance the prediction and control of correctional populations within an integrated approach to risk assessment.
The predictive utility and structured decision making offered by such an approach is embodied in the Self-Appraisal Questionnaire (SAQ). It is, therefore, imperative that the SAQ be evaluated through empirical research as it accommodates dynamic criminogenic risk factors that are potential indicators for treatment and risk reduction, the probable risk of reoffending and the threat that such risk poses. The SAQ is based on, and has been designed to improve the prediction of criminal behaviour, to assist in the assessment of risk and the identification of factors that could be addressed by programming or other intervention. It focuses on the predominant areas identified by research on recidivism to gain a clear identification of offenders' needs and helps to guide the selection of appropriate institutional security levels and appropriate intervention programmes for each individual.
The SAQ was administered on two separate occasions to a total of 110 high-risk male offenders in South Africa in 2007 who agreed to be assessed by the author making use of the SAQ. The completed questionnaires were computerised making use of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and analysed in terms of the reliability and interrelated measurement validity of the instrument which demands consistency over time. Temporal stability is the consistency of a set of measurements over time with the same instrument (test-retest), based upon the correlational relationship between test statistics obtained at two successive time periods from the same research respondents. The overall alpha score of the SAQ measured .89 and .91 during the first and second measurements respectively. All correlations for the South African measured subscales emerged highly significant at the 0.01 percent level and consistent with previous international findings, paving the way for further research.
The effectiveness of set psychometric selection criteria to reject applicants with high levels of suicide ideation from enlistment in the South African Police ServiceSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 21, pp 11 –18 (2008)More Less
High suicide rates among law enforcement officers are common. This is also the case in the South African Police Service (SAPS), where the suicide rate is more than double that of the reported national rate. The use of psychometric tests prior to enlistment may reduce the risk of suicide at a later stage. However, the psychometric battery presently used by the SAPS does not include any specific measures of suicide ideation, an early warning sign of suicidiality. The aim of this research was to assess the effectiveness of the present psychometric battery in eliminating candidates with high levels of suicide ideation from enlisting. This was done by comparing the suicide ideation scores of a group of applicants who met the psychometric selection criteria (N=2 498) with a group that did not meet the criteria (N=2 675). Reynolds' Adult Suicide Ideation Questionnaire (ASIQ) was adapted and administered to the same groups to assess the level of suicide ideation. The results of both t-tests (t=18.75; p<0.001; d=0.344) and the chi-square test (_2=149; p<0.001) suggest the rejection of the null hypothesis, and show that the present test battery is effective in reducing the enlistment of suicidal applicants. The adapted suicide ideation test shows positive psychometric results, with an acceptable Cronbach alpha of 0.82 and an inter-item correlation of 0.34. Other data on the psychometric characteristics of the adapted ASIQ and some general recommendations are reported.
Perceptions of poverty and crime, its impact on the farming community and guidelines for an intervention programmeSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 21, pp 19 –32 (2008)More Less
This article provides a profile on the poverty and crime that farm workers experience and have to deal with in their community. A multidisciplinary study was conducted by the Faculty of Health Sciences of the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus) on certain farms in the North-West Province of South Africa. This study was known as FLAGH, an acronym for the Farm Labour, Agriculture and General Health study. Thirty (N=30) participants were identified through systematic random sampling techniques. Qualitative interviews were undertaken for data collection purposes. The aim of this study was to gauge the workers' perceptions concerning poverty and crime and to suggest guidelines for a possible intervention programme.
Can private security stand up to the challenges of crime and crime prevention in South Africa? A contemporary perspectiveSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 21, pp 33 –43 (2008)More Less
The evolution of private security over centuries generally reveals a meaningful symbiotic relationship with crime prevention. From ancient times, right through the Middle Ages up to the modern era, this entity aspired to protecting life and property. Since the advent of democracy in South Africa, industrialization took its course. Apart from HIV / Aids, unemployment and a desire for better living conditions directly contribute to the depopulation of traditional rural areas, causing people to migrate to cities. Conditions of social deterioration which may serve as breeding ground for crime and moral decay are: drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, prostitution, and the like. The assumption of whether or not private security would be capable to 'stand up' to the challenges of crime and crime prevention, on the one hand depends on factorial indications of the important function of security officers in crime prevention, the importance of security measures and the role played by private security in an industrial society. On the other hand, a literature study reflecting contemporary perceptions of crime and public reactions towards crime prevention initiatives recorded in the printed media play an equal important role in this equation.
In particular, reference is being made of three possible dysfunctional conditions that may exert a negative influence on the capability of private security: industrial strikes, the criminal onslaught and private security training. Although private security is irrevocably entrenched in serving their 'clients' through risk management, security surveys, physical, information or personnel security, it cannot turn itself away from the very 'turf' they serve: the community where crime originates, simply because the public still perceive the police as unreliable and not accountable in their handling of crime (Bezuidenhout 2007:vii) - in spite of recent successes in combating cash-in-transit heists in which more than twenty heavily armed robbers were shot and killed by the police.
Source: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 21, pp 44 –61 (2008)More Less
This article provides a background on, summarises the findings and notes the implications of a sample survey conducted among detainees at police stations in South Africa in 2000. The survey investigated the level of drug consumption and crime, drug-crime connections and contributors to these issues at an individual and broad socioeconomic level, focusing on the period before the respondents' arrest. The survey confirmed the findings of related studies that drug-crime manifests in comparatively intense drug intake and criminal activity, and in an interactive relationship between the two manifestations. It also deepened insight into the influence of broad socioeconomic conditions on drug-crime, showing, for example, that greater population density in a neighbourhood increased the probability of individuals experiencing violent encounters such as threats or stabbing with a knife. These encounters, in turn, increased the probability of the individuals concerned consuming some drug or other. However, being the first of its kind, the study must be repeated. The influence of broad socioeconomic conditions on the drug-crime phenomenon must also be explored in greater depth at some future stage. As many respondents indicated a need for drug-related remedial treatment, and as various overseas studies have shown that drug-related treatment can reduce crime, the screening of entrants into the criminal justice system (i e detainees at police stations) for drug use and the provision of drug-related treatment to those in need, therefore seem essential. Finally, as the survey indicated that a combination of individual and broad socioeconomic issues contribute to drug-crime, counteraction must be taken at both these levels.
Work-Home Interaction of police officers in the North West Province : examining socio-demographic differencesSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 21, pp 62 –76 (2008)More Less
This study was conducted among randomly selected members of the South African Police Service (n = 685) in the North West Province and examined how socio-demographic groups differ with regards to four dimensions of work-home interaction. The Survey Work-Home Interaction - Nijmegen (SWING), as well as a biographical questionnaire were translated into Afrikaans and Setswana and were administered together with the original English version. Multivariate analysis of variance showed that statistically significant differences exist between socio-demographic groups based on language, gender, marital status, parental status and education.
Source: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 21, pp 77 –86 (2008)More Less
This research paper is an exploratory pilot study aimed at accessing the views of children on the criminal justice system, their perceptions of how children in conflict with the law are treated, the impact that crime has on them, their schools, families and communities, and their suggestions on how these problems could be eliminated. The aim was to give the children the opportunity to share their views and perspectives, and to encourage decision-makers and policy-makers to take cognisance of what the children have to say. The survey was carried out through an open-ended questionnaire, administered to 529 children between the ages of 11 and 17 years. The only requirement for participation was the ability to read and write. The participating children were selected from 47 schools throughout the Gauteng Province. Seventy-nine (15%) questionnaires were completed by children who indicated that they have been in conflict with the law and 450 (85%) questionnaires were completed by children who indicated that they have not. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of the children who participated in this pilot study clearly stated a need for training with regard to the criminal justice system (policing, the court proceedings, and the prison system). The rationale for training on topics relating to the criminal justice system is, according to 58% of the participants, to understand and prevent crime. The participants also recognised and accepted their responsibility to participate in actions to reduce crime.
Holding South Africa's private security industry accountable : mechanisms of control and challenges to oversightAuthor J. BergSource: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 21, pp 87 –96 (2008)More Less
Media focus on the use of private security companies to provide access control for police buildings - as well as the spate of unrest and deaths associated with the private security strikes which took place throughout the country from April to June 2006 due to poor working conditions and low wages - has prompted a renewed interest in the private security industry. Furthermore, during his 2007 State of the Nation Address, President Thabo Mbeki pointed out the inadequacy of the current regulatory system to hold the private security industry accountable. The accountability of the private security industry is particularly pertinent at this stage of South African history, due to the need to consolidate - more than a decade after the advent of democracy - the various mechanisms that were created to sustain a democratic, equitable society. In view of the above, the aim of this paper is to critically assess the current state of oversight over the private security industry in South Africa. A review is provided of the internal, state and civilian oversight mechanisms which have been created to hold the industry accountable, with a critical appraisal of the gaps left by the application of these mechanisms present. The nature of private security accountability and the contemporary challenges to ensuring effective oversight over the industry are discussed against the background of the pluralisation of policing in South Africa.
Source: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 21, pp 97 –122 (2008)More Less
Despite the serious legal, emotional, health and educational consequences sexual harassment holds for perpetrators, victims and educational authorities alike, it seems as if a culture of silence and acceptance surrounds sexual harassment in schools. The Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, warns that "if we allow violence, abuse and drugs to become a familiar and accepted part of schooling, our future is lost". This article attempts to heed the Minister's warning by reporting on the findings of a survey on Free State learners' exposure to peer and educator-to-learner sexual harassment. The article also probes the influence of demographic variables on sexual harassment. A self-reporting questionnaire, based on Fitzgerald's Sexual Experience Questionnaire and Timmerman's questionnaire on unwanted sexual behaviour in secondary schools, was completed by 474 Grade 8 to12 learners. Frequency tables, ratios, one-way ANOVA and the t-test were used to analyse the data. The data revealed that Free State schools are not "hell-holes of sexual violence". Nevertheless, verbal, non-verbal and physical peer and educator-to-learner violence is fairly common in some schools. Although literature places a lot of emphasis on the sexual abuse of learners by their educators, peers were identified as the main perpetrators in all the forms of sexual violence, including rape, in this study. It was also found, contrary to most research findings, that the greater threat to sexual harassment in schools is to school boys and it comes mostly from harassment by fellow male learners. Nonetheless, the sexual abuse of girls is also a serious problem in some Free State schools. The study noted the influence of demographic variables on school violence. It was found, for example, that school size has a statistically significant influence on learners' exposure to different forms of sexual harassment and the fact that children attending large schools are exposed to more forms of sexual harassment than those attending smaller schools. Recommendations on how to address peer, as well as educator-to-learner sexual harassment are also provided.
Source: Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology 21, pp 123 –143 (2008)More Less
South Africa is a country ravaged by crime, yet few theoretical frameworks exist by which to guide crime reduction initiatives, and none incorporating a spatial component. Crime scientists are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of spatial dynamics in their research, with both the geographic distributions of offences and offenders seemingly playing important roles. However, empirical research investigating the spatial dimension of crime in South Africa is sorely lacking, which is a worrying fact, given the importance of this factor in understanding crime in the country. In this paper key requirements in the development of a spatial-ecological theory of crime in South Africa are outlined and investigated. Although these requirements necessarily have a geo-analytic bias, they will, nevertheless, have an impact on the associated field of criminology in South Africa. Within this context local researchers would be able to provide feedback on the dominance and ethnocentric bias of "American" criminology as well as lay a theoretical foundation for a critical-realistic understanding of crime in the country.