Measured Governance? Policing and Performance Management in South Africa

Type Journal Article - Public Administration and Development
Title Measured Governance? Policing and Performance Management in South Africa
Volume 36
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 157-168
The nineties were a period of mass reforms in South African policing. Within a few years of its transition from apartheid to democracy, the South African Police Service (SAPS) had developed a performance measurement tool based on the New York
CompStat system. Such tools have been praised for their apparent effectiveness in reducing crime but scorned for the pressures they place on police officers. This article demonstrates that the SAPS’ Performance Chart has framed the police as crime
fighters, giving little to no regard for community relations or police legitimacy. While organisational rhetoric emphasises police-community relations and police professionalism, these are absent from the targets by which police are assessed. The
unintended consequences were clearly demonstrated when angry residents of Khayelitsha in Cape Town successfully lobbied for a Commission of Inquiry into the failures of policing in 2012. The scandal showed that despite good intentions, the introduction of the Chart has not produced effective, democratic policing. On the contrary, the resulting pressure to ‘perform’ can and has promoted police practices that erode community trust in and cooperation with police. For the SAPS, this is particularly true in the absence of a measure of public confidence or of feelings of safety

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