The Victims of Crime Survey (VCS) is a countrywide household-based survey which collects data on the prevalence of particular kinds of crime within South Africa. The survey includes information on victimisation experienced by individuals and households and their perspectives on community responses to crime. Therefore, VCS data can be used for research in the development of policies and strategies for crime prevention and public safety and education programmes. Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) conducted its first VCS in 1998. Following the VCS 1998, victims surveys were conducted by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). Since 2011, StatsSA began conducting an annual collection of the VCS as a source of information on crime in South Africa. The main objectives of the survey are to:
• Provide information about the dynamics of crime from the perspective of households and the victims of crime.
• Explore public perceptions of the activities of the police, prosecutors, courts and correctional services in the prevention of crime and victimisation.
• Provide complimentary data on the level of crime within South Africa in addition to the statistics published annually by the South African Police Service.
The VCS 2011 is the second release in the collection and is comparable to the VCS 1998 and all subsequent releases. However, the VCS 2011 is not comparable to new Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey (GPSJS). StatsSA launched the GPSJS in April 2018 in response to the need for standardised international reporting standards on governance and access to justice that are recommended by the SDGs, ShaSA and Agenda 2063.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v1: Edited, anonymised dataset for licensed access
Version 1 of the dataset included duplicates of households in the household file.
Version 1.1 of the dataset includes a new replacement household data file that corrects for the duplicates.
The VCS focuses on people's perceptions and experiences of crime and their views regarding access to, and effectiveness of the police service and criminal justice system. Households are also asked about community responses to crime. The survey profiles different aspects that are inherent in the different types of crime, such as the location and timing of the different crimes, the use of weapons and the nature and extent of the violence that takes place.
The survey has national coverage
The lowest level of geographic aggregation covered by the data is province
The target population of the survey consists of all private households in all nine provinces of South Africa, as well as residents in workers’ hostels. The survey does not cover other collective living quarters such as students’ hostels, old-age homes, hospitals, prisons and military barracks. It is only representative of non-institutionalised and non-military persons or households in South Africa.
Producers and sponsors
Statistics South Africa
The VCS 2011 used a master sample (MS) originally designed for the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) as a sampling frame. The MS is based on information collected during the 2001 Population Census conducted by Stats SA. The MS has been developed as a general-purpose household survey frame that can be used by all household-based surveys irrespective of the sample size requirement of the survey. The VCS 2012 uses an MS of primary sampling units (PSUs) which comprise census enumeration areas (EAs) that are drawn from across the country.
The sample used a stratified two-stage design with probability-proportional-to-size (PPS) sampling of PSUs in the first stage, and sampling of dwelling units (DUs) with systematic sampling in the second stage. The sample was designed to be representative at provincial level. A self-weighting design at provincial level was used and MS stratification was divided into two levels. Primary stratification was defined by metropolitan and non-metropolitan geographic area type. During secondary stratification, the Census 2001 data were summarised at PSU level. The following variables were used for secondary stratification: household size, education, occupancy status, gender, industry and income.
A randomised probability proportional to size (RPPS) systematic sample of PSUs was drawn in each stratum, with the measure of size being the number of households in the PSU. The sample size of 3 080 PSUs was selected. In each selected PSU a systematic sample of dwelling units was drawn. The number of DUs selected per PSU varies from PSU to PSU and depends on the inverse sampling ratios (ISR) of each PSU. The sample size for the VCS 2011 is 29 754 dwelling units.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
The reference period for the collection of VCS 2011 crime estimates is January to December 2010.
Statistics South Africa
The VOCS 2011 questionnaire was based on the questionnaires used in the International Crime Victim Survey (ICVS) and previous VOCSs conducted by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and Statistics SA.
Sections 10 to 20 of the questionnaire relate to household crimes. A proxy respondent (preferably head of the household or acting head of household) answered on behalf of the household. Section 21 to 27 of the questionnaire about crimes on individuals were asked of a household member who was selected using the birthday section method. This methodology selects an individual who is 16 years or older, whose birthday is soonest after the survey date.
Capture was undertaken on Epi-Info. A process of double capture was undertaken in order to eliminate capture error.
The VCS 2011 is comparable to the previous VCSs in that several questions have remained unchanged over time. Where possible, it was generally indicated in the report. However, it is important to note that the sample size for the VCS 2011 is much bigger than any of the preceding surveys, and the data should be considered more reliable than the earlier surveys especially at lower levels of disaggregation. The current survey can thus provide more accurate estimates than the previous surveys, for example at provincial level and for domain variables, such as gender and race. Caution should be exercised when running cross tabulation of different crimes by province and other variables as in most cases the reported cases were too few for this type of analysis.
Statistics South Africa. Victims of crime survey 2011 [dataset]. Version 1.1. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa [producer], 2011. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2012. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/6sst-7h76