WC Community Safety Committee slams SAPS resource allocation report

A report on South African Police Service (SAPS) personnel shortages came under fire on Wednesday when the Public Service Commission (PSC) presented it to the Western Cape Standing Committee on Community Safety.

One of the issues raised was that the PSC stated in its report that the availability of information from SAPS was a challenge.

Provincial and national police commissioners had seemingly ignored the PSC's efforts to obtain details on the methodology the Western Cape followed for the allocation of resources.

Instead, the PSC relied on other research reports.

The committee invited the PSC to expand on its report and findings. 

Committee member Ferlon Christians asked PSC Commissioner Dr Bruno Luthuli how the report's recommendations would be enforced if the commission was unable to even secure an interview with the commissioner.

READ MORE: Plotting the fight for equitable allocation of police resources

Luthuli fired back, placing the responsibility of holding the commissioners accountable on the committee.

"People are not aware of the powers that they have and there is thinking that we can do this and that and it is seen as innovation when, in this particular instance, no innovation is required," Luthuli said.

"The Constitution says this and if you don't do it, then you are acting against the Constitution and legislation that has put you here. As a committee, you have a role to deal with the employment; the disciplining of the provincial commissioner should he not abide."

Eastern Cape PSC Commissioner Singata Mafanya added: "We as the PSC were commissioned to investigate and we have done the investigation and we have made our findings. We have even indicated our limitations. What happens to our recommendations is the responsibility of this committee."

Criticising the methodology

Committee member Mark Wiley criticised the methodology model the PSC used to determine police resource allocation.

The Theoretical Human Resource Requirement (THRR) methodology does not take into account available resources. It simply asks how many police officers will be needed to perform the tasks that each station is required to perform.

It is a technology-based model for the determining of the minimum number and level of posts for police stations, given the minimum standards.

READ: The Western Cape's crippling police shortage by numbers

Wiley is of the opinion that the model should have focused on policing at ground level.

"We only see police officers in the police station 90% of the time. That is where policing and the intent of the Constitution to keep the public safe take place – on the ground," he said.

He believes that the population census and crimes statistics over the past five years would paint a clearer picture when determining resource allocation for each station.

Surge in crime

"The crime statistics over the last five years will indicate that crime in the Western Cape has significantly increased. Especially in terms of contact crimes, more specifically in murder, it still leads by a country mile," he said.

"Just use those two barometers and I think you would find that you would come to a dramatically different set of recommendations."

The PSC has made key recommendations to the SAPS to address its personnel practices and shortages, in a report released in June.

Importantly, it has advised the Western Cape police commissioner to draft a plan on the equitable allocation of resources in the province within six months and submit it to the national police commissioner, who should then keep an eye on the plan's implementation.

The report said that the plan should have a specific focus on stations which have serious constraints, which were highlighted during the Khayelitsha Commission into Policing.

He also recommended that critical vacant funded posts should be filled within six months.

Luthuli explained the purpose of the THRR methodology.

"The THRR was never meant for real application. It was meant to be a guide – a parameter within which the commissioner needed to work with. There is a budget that guides the resources that get allocated," he said.

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