One step forward, two steps back? The impact of the SAPS restructuring of the FCS Units


  • Cheryl Frank ISS
  • Samantha Waterhouse RAPCAN



SAPS, South Africa, FCS unit, RAPCAN, violence, child protection, sexual offences, access to services


In 2006, the South African Police Service underwent a massive restructuring aimed at eliminating the ‘area’ level (a functional level of services located between stations and the provincial level) and placing specially trained staff at provincial or station level. The FCS (family violence, child protection and sexual offences) units were among the services affected by this change. In 2007/08, RAPCAN (Resources Aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) undertook a research project to review the impact of the change. The project included nine provincial workshops involving FCS staff and others, as well as a literature review of international trends. The study found that there is no longer a national pattern that demonstrates dedicated personnel and resources and specialised management of FCS cases. The study also found that South Africa is out of step with comparable poor and middle-income countries in effectively shifting away from specialised services. The study recommends that the SAPS implement a medium-term plan for the improvement of FCS services, with a focus on ensuring a continued increase in access to services, and a concomitant focus in ensuring the quality of these services.


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