South Africa's Incident Registration Information System (IRIS): Its use and abuse in protest analysis

  • Peter Alexander Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg
  • Carin Runciman Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg
  • Boitumelo Maruping Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg
Keywords: protest, IRIS, police data, protest event analysis

Abstract

South Africa’s Incident Registration Information System (IRIS) is a comprehensive, computerised database maintained by the South African Police Service (SAPS). In principle, it records all public order policing activity including all crowd incidents. While IRIS data is, potentially, a unique source for protest event analysis, considerable care is required. We aim to correct misunderstandings about the data advanced by academics and in the media, and expose its misuse by police chiefs and politicians. In particular, the incidents that IRIS reports are not protests, though protests can be found in the raw data. This article is based, in part, on records of 156,230 incidents covering the period 1997-2013.

Author Biographies

Peter Alexander, Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg
Professor of sociology at the Univeristy of Johannesburg, Director for the Centre for Social Change and holds the DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Social Change.
Carin Runciman, Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg
Senior Researcher, Centre for Social Change
Boitumelo Maruping, Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg
Senior Research Assistant, Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg.

References

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Jane Duncan, The rise of the securocrats: The case of South Africa. Johannesburg: Jacana Media, 2014, 124-5.

Peter Alexander, Carin Runciman and Boitumelo Maruping, South African Police Service (SAPS) Data on crowd incidents: a preliminary analysis. Johannesburg: Social Change Research Unit, University of Johannesburg, 2015;

Carin Runciman, Peter Alexander, Mahlatse Rampedi, Boikanyo Moloto, Boitumelo Maruping, Eunice Khumalo and Sehlaphi Sibanda, Counting police-recorded protests: based on the South African police service data. Johannesburg: Social Change Research Unit, University of Johannesburg, 2016.

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Lt. Col. Vernon Day, email to Prof. Alexander, 21 May 2015.

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Lt. Col. Vernon Day, interview with Peter Alexander, 20 Aug 2014.

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Published
2016-12-14
Section
Research articles