n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - A critical assessment of the constitutional mandate of the South African Police Service in accordance with criminological perspectives on crime prevention

Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Within the criminological perspectives of crime, this article assesses the legal mandate of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and its strategies to achieve this mandate from a planning, budgeting and staffing point of view. However, to objectively measure any performance, including that of the police, is not a straightforward matter. Within this context, this article assesses the SAPS Management's understanding and operationalisation of the mandate. To this end, three yardsticks have been selected, namely the mandate itself; secondly, strategic planning and direction; and lastly, manpower and budgeting. The assessment is done within the context of theoretical conceptions of crime reduction and control. The article argues that criminological theory does not support the generally-held opinion that the police is responsible for crime reduction and prevention, and that the deployment of more police officers is the answer for crime prevention. In fact, the mission, as stated by the SAPS and based on its mandate, and which inter alia reads : "...[to] prevent anything that may threaten the safety and security of any community and to investigate any crimes that threaten the safety and security of any community", can be called "mission impossible". The article further argues that the police should rather be mandated to combat crime and to participate in crime prevention and that each government department must be legally mandated to devise and participate in a composite crime prevention plan and budget accordingly. Results obtained from this research therefore clearly indicate that police staffing and budgets are inflated and that the strategic direction is based on an attempt to pursue an unfair mandate.

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