The SAPS crime statistics: What they tell us – and what they don’t

  • C Gould
  • J Burger
  • G Newham


Every year, the South African Minister of Police releases the crime statistics in September and the SAPS Annual Report shortly thereafter. In this article we draw on an earlier analysis by David Bruce (SACQ 31) that questioned the veracity of the SAPS statistics for inter-personal violence. We show that there remains reason to question the veracity of the assault statistics, and point to other weaknesses in the way in which the statistics are reported. We argue that greater value would be obtained from the crime statistics if reported more frequently than once a year, and if they were disaggregated to a greater degree. The SAPS has a sophisticated and up-to-date system for recording and analysing crime data. This could prove an invaluable source of information for those who seek to better understand and respond to crime in South Africa. However, a long-overdue policy change is needed to ensure that South Africa can make better use of its crime statistics.

Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 1991-3877