THE PARADOX OF CRIME PERCEPTIONS: SAPS crime statistics, Victims of Crime Surveys and the media

  • Megan Govender DNA Economics
Keywords: SAPS, crime statistics, victims survey, media, crime reporting, South Africa


A disjuncture exists between perceptions of crime and the actual levels of recorded crime. The 2012/13 crime statistics released by the South African Police Service reveal an overall decrease in serious crime between 2002/03 and 2012/13. Yet, during this period, suspicions lingered among the public and media that crime was actually increasing. This article investigates the reporting of crime and demonstrates that household perceptions of property crime and violent crime can be interpreted and reported in contradictory ways. It can be variously shown that most households feel that crime has not decreased, nor do they feel it has increased and nor do they feel it has stayed the same.  Consequently, the reporting of the perceptions of crime needs to be carefully and explicitly communicated to mitigate any confusion that may ensue.

Author Biography

Megan Govender, DNA Economics
Public Policy Unit
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