Published:  2014-12-19 Views:  2893
Author:  karelnel
Published in:  Security/Sekuriteit
Crime Statistics - Part 1

Crime Statistics – Part 1

A set of crime statistics is annually published by the SA Police Service (SAPS) for the RSA, and is often a source of controversy due to uncertainties about its meaning and accuracy.  A set of such data can be found on the National Website of the SAPS (public domain information) containing the data of the past 10 years for all SAPS stations in the RSA. These figures contain a wealth of good information  that could be utilised in the combatting of crime, but it is rarely used due to a lack of understanding of their meaning.


This article is based on the information that was published in 2013 and attempts to give an analysis of the long term crime tendencies related to the Hartbeespoort SAPS precinct ( the past 10 years) and to extract some meaningful conclusions from those.


The SAPS has selected a number of categories of crimes, consisting of approximately 29 types of crimes,  on which figures are reported. The annual average incidence for the ten year period for each crime type in Hartbeespoortdam precinct is given in brackets.

  • Contact crimes (Crimes against the person) consisting of:

    • Murder (9 )

    • Total Sexual Crimes (39 )

    • Attempted Murder (21 )

    • Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm (149 )

    • Common assault (184 )

    • Common robbery ( 47)

    • Robbery with aggravating circumstances (106 )

  • Contact-related crimes consisting of:

    • Arson (10 )

    • Malicious damage to property (162 )

  • Property-related crimes consisting of:

    • Burglary at non-residential premises ( 117)

    • Burglary at residential premises (581 )

    • Theft of motor vehicle and motorcycle (96 )

    • Theft out of or from motor vehicle (190 )

    • Stock theft (12 )

  • Crimes heavily dependent on Police action for detection consisting of:

    • Illegal possession of fire arms and ammunition (11 )

    • Drug related crime (56 )

    • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs ( 26)

  • Other serious crimes consisting of:

    • All theft not mentioned elsewhere ( 607)

    • Commercial crime (95 )

    • Shoplifting (27 )

  • Subcategories of aggravated robbery forming part of aggravated robbery above consisting of:

    • Carjacking (7 )

    • Truck hijacking (2 )

    • Robbery at residential premises ( 28)

    • Robbery at non-residential premises (11 )

  • Other crime categories consisting of:

    • Culpable homicide (18 )

    • Public violence (1 )

    • Crimen injuria (26 )

    • Neglect and ill-treatment of children (2 )

    • Kidnapping ( 2)

Various aspects of the data are unclear (not explained on the website) and should be clarified if the information is to be used as an effective tool for fighting crime:

  • The exact definitions of the different types of crime are not clear

  • The logical reason for the classification into the categories is unclear

  • It is not clear whether there are overlapping between the different categories

  • It is accepted that the figures are annual total numbers of the type of crime for which dockets were opened at the specific station The documenting of the number of prosecutions and convictions should contribute meaningfully to measure the effectiveness of the whole system.

  • It is also not clear whether the case in a specific docket is only classified in one of these criteria or is it sometimes recorded under more than one category.

  • An increase in cases can come from two mechanisms: a) An increase of crime levels in the population or b) Increased effectiveness of the SAPS to discover this type of crime. The opposite is also true. In this study the difference between these two reasons cannot be distinguished.

  • Due to the fact that no population figures of the precinct are quoted, comparison with the crime rates in other areas are not possible.

  • Due to the fact that only annual figures are given, only long term trends can be seen, and these are somewhat distorted due to the expected population rise in the precinct population. If monthly figures are available at least the seasonable variation will become visible that can be used for prediction purposes.


The data was depicted on graphs showing the trends over ten years. To try and make the analysis more meaningful, the figures for our province and the RSA have also be included so that the reader can judge the trends for himself.  A ten year average was calculated and indicated on the graphs. In addition  standard deviations were calculated for the data-sets and  2-standard deviation upper limist were indicated on the graphs.  Any data points falling outside the 2-standard deviation limit represent a significant increase in the specific type of crime at a confidence limit of 95%. Finally all the data was analysed to determine rankings for the different types of crime.

Only the annual totals will be depicted here – the analysis of the different crime categories will be given in a subsequent article.


Annual Totals:



Figure 1: Hartbeespoortdam            



North West Province                        



Republic of South Africa

From the figures above it can be seen that the SAPS has achieved a significant reversal of the overall crime trend in the Hartbeespoort precinct. It should be noted that the establishment of the different Community Watches in Hartbeespoort began in 2009 and this may well be one of the contributing factors. It is interesting to note the similarity between the patterns on national and provincial level, and how it differs from the Hartbeespoort statistics.


The figure below shows a simple analysis of the incidence of crime types over the past ten years.


Fig 2: 10 Year Average Ranking of Crime types for Hartbeespoortdam


The figure above ranks the different crime types according to their average annual incidence figures over the past 10 years for Hartbeespoortdam. The expected Pareto-distribution is found and approximately the first 8 categories contributes to approximately 80% of the reported crime. The biggest impact on crime reduction can therefore be made if the SAPS (and the community) can focus on these types

The Police statistics database is an untapped resource that can be very valuable in the fighting of crime if used in a proper manner. It can disclose crime patterns which may serve as a basis for indicators on how to focus the crime fighting effort more effectively.

A follow-on article will focus on the incidences different crime types in Hartbeespoort.




Directors: S.A.M Smit & J.F Koster - Copyright ©2019 HartiesNet (Pty) Ltd - our Disclaimer