To measure and what to measure: Towards assessing the impact of social crime prevention projects

  • ChandrĂ© Gould Institute for Security Studies
Keywords: crime, South Africa, social development, criminal justice system, Western Cape, social intervention


The idea that it is necessary to address crime through social development is gaining currency in South Africa. Indeed, in the face of high crime rates that seem not to respond significantly to increases in the number of policemen and women, and in the face of seemingly intractable problems in the criminal justice system, there is a need to determine and address the social causes of crime. In order to convince government, funding institutions and the public that social interventions offer a long-term solution it is necessary to be able to measure their impact. This article describes a social development initiative aimed at preventing and reducing crime in a rural area in the Western Cape. It argues that while it is possible to identify indicators of success, measuring the impact of these kinds of interventions cannot be achieved in the short term. Also, while monitoring and evaluation are important, a balance must be found between allocating resources to core activities, and to monitoring and evaluation.

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