n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Policing a changing society in South Africa : challenges for the police officer

Special Edition 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



During the early 1990s, up until the new democratic government took office in 1995, there was widespread criticism directed at the South African Police. Much of the criticism was directed at the external and internal environments of the police force. A great deal of this criticism came from academics and researchers. However, much of this was aimed as assisting the new South African Police Service being rationalised, restructured and amalgamated into one police service. A policing service that would enjoy legitimacy among all the communities of South Africa, and not only by a privileged minority. Since 1995, the police were involved in policing a changing society. According to De Vries (2008:133), as far as guidance towards continued democratic policing is concerned, it was necessary that the leaders of the police department should have developed clear policies to address the criticism. The time has come to take stock of what happened since 1995 to date, in relating to these criticisms. The article traces the history of the criticism by examining the external and internal environments of the policing milieu, looking at facets such as politics, social, economics, international, technology, culture, ecology, restructuring, community policing and crime prevention, service style of policing, training, displacement of goals, bureau pathology, closed structure, charter for human rights, doctrine of minimum force, and police accountability. Some of the important criticisms were drawn from the different facets and compared to the existing situation in the South African Police Service. The author used focus groups from the crime prevention, detective and support services, and carried out purposive interviews while he was Area Commissioner at Area Marico in Rustenburg (South African Police Service). A literature review into the research of many modern-day academics and researchers, that have carried out research on specific aspects within the external and internal environments of the South African Police Service, was also completed. Being a former police officer with extensive policing experience, the author drew his own conclusions on the challenges facing the modern day police officer.

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