Cape Town: Statistician-General Pali Lehohla says a majority of households in South Africa perceive courts and the police positively, while they hold a negative view on Correctional Services.
Releasing the findings of the latest Victims of Crime Survey, which interviews households on how they perceive crime prevention and the criminal justice system, the Statistician-General said the results of the survey should not be undermined.
“Public confidence in the criminal justice system should never be undermined as it serves as an important tool in evaluating the quality of its services.
“The results of this report seek to inform government, especially the SA Police Service, the Department of Justice and the Department of Correctional Services on areas in which they need to improve in order to provide relevant, quality services and increase public confidence in their service,” he said.
About 30 000 households that were victims of crime were sampled over the 2013/14 financial year.
The survey considered the targets of government’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), which also includes the reduction in the number of reported crimes and an increase in the proportion of citizens that feel safe to walk alone in their own areas.
The results also take into account issues such as the prompt response by the police, police visibility, the effect of police contact, sentencing backlogs, sentencing type and views about Correctional Services.
Sixty-four percent of the households rated courts positively, while 59.2 percent indicated that they were satisfied with the police.
Correctional Services were rated negatively by about half of all households that were surveyed.
Lehohla said the sentencing of offenders by the courts was more likely to influence the public’s view on courts. He said the perception that sentences passed were too lenient on offenders tended to tarnish the image of the courts.
The study, Lehohla said, also found that black African households, were less likely to be satisfied with the courts.
He said when it came to the police, while the levels of satisfaction with the police were relatively high, the survey noted that between 2011 and the year under review, there was a decrease in the levels of satisfaction with the police.
About 65% of the households did not have confidence in the ability of Correctional Services to rehabilitate offenders.
Lehohla said the findings of the report strongly emphasised the importance of restoring and maintaining public confidence in the system.
“Misconceptions about how the criminal justice system operates impact negatively on public perceptions about various departments within the criminal justice system.
“It is important to establish interventions that seek to educate the public about the systems and processes within the criminal justice system.
“This will empower members of the public in terms of knowing which department to hold accountable as well as assist the relevant departments to improve their service.”
SOURCE: South African Official News