Missing the target: When measuring performance undermines police effectiveness

  • Andrew Faull ISS
Keywords: crime statistics, SAPS, South Africa, police, performance


Crime statistics can only offer a limited measure of police performance, if they can be a measure of performance at all. Many types of crime fluctuate completely independently of policing. To place pressure on the police to reduce crime statistics leads to perverse incentives, typically to not record crime (see the article by Bruce in this edition of SACQ). In South Africa, crime statistics are still seen as a measure of police performance rather than a measure of the challenge facing the police, and indeed society as a whole. Other police performance assessment measures currently in place also contribute to poor and abusive policing practices. This article explores these issues by drawing on research conducted in recent years, and through reference to the South African Police Service (SAPS) performance chart.

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