n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Risk factors contributing to police criminality

Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The anomaly of criminal activities perpetrated by police officials, who have sworn to uphold the law and to serve the public, is focused on in this article. It attempts to elucidate many of the risk factors that encourage the perpetuation of criminality in police organisations from both an international as well as a local perspective. The crime precipitants or risk factors were divided into three pertinent themes: the individual, the organisation and peripheral contributors. The contents of this article reflect empirical findings which apply primarily to the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Western Cape region. Interviews were conducted with 13 members of the SAPS ranging from deputy Provincial Commissioner to Captain. The various members interviewed belonged to the following police units: support services, organised crime, detective services, legal services, disciplinary management, counter intelligence, psychological services and social services. Eleven knowledgeable individuals from a variety of professions were also interviewed as well as eight police offenders, all of whom were incarcerated in various prisons throughout the Western Cape at the time of their interviews. Based on the results of these interviews, the authors reached conclusions pertaining to police criminality in relation to the threefold of perspectives mentioned. These conclusions are substantiated with correlates from findings from two international commissions of inquiry into police corruption and crime, as well as from other subject related literature.

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