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 2014/15 is the fourth release in the collection and was used to pilot the possibility of integrating crime statistics from administrative data with those of the 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. Therefore, the VCS 2014/15 (and all subsequent releases) can be seen as a complementary dataset to the GPSJS releases.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v1: Edited, anonymised dataset for public access
Version 1 of the survey (based on the 2014 series) was weighted using the population estimates of mid-May 2014. The release contained two data files: a person level file (using individual sample weights) and a household level file (using household sample weights):
The person file contained primarily victim information from Section 21 to 28 of the questionnaire on all persons within a household at individual level. Individual sample weights were used for the data within this file.
The household file contained demographic and victim information on one individual identified as the head within the household. Household sample weights were used for th data within this file.
A new version of this dataset was released by StatsSA in 2020 (based on the 2017 series). The new release (our version 1.1) includes newly calibrated sample weights for compatibility with the Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey (GPSJS). Version 1.1 contains three data files at person, household and individual level:
The person file contains primarily demographic information on all persons within a household at individual level and includes new calibrated person sample weights. The data file includes both the old person weight ("pers_wgt_old") and the new calibrated person weight ("pers_wgt").
The household file contains demographic and victim information collected from one individual identified as the head within the household and includes new calibrated household sample weights. The data file includes both the old household weight (hhd_wgt_old") and the new calibrated household weight ("hhd_wgt").
The individual file contains primarily victim information from Section 21 to 28 of the questionnaire which is collected from one person, 16 years or older, selected per respondent household and includes new individual sample weights. The data file includes both the old individual weight ("ind_wgt_old") and the new calibrated individual weight ("ind_wgt").
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 2014/15 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 2014/15 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.
The sample size for the VCS 2014/15 had approximately 30 000 DUs from 3 080 PSUs. 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 and the number of dwelling units in that PSU.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
Since 2013, Stats SA has changed the data collection methodology to continuous data collection. Data is collected from April of the current year to March of the proceeding year.
For the VCS 2014/15, the reference period for the experience of crime estimates is April 2013 to February 2015, while questions on perceptions referred to the collection period (i.e. April 2014 to March 2015).
Statistics South Africa
Government of South Africa
The VCS 2014/15 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 28 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.
Prior to 2014/15, VCS respondents were asked about their crime-related experiences in the previous calendar year, but the VCS changed to a Continuous Data Collection (CDC) method. In this data collection method, respondents were interviewed on a rolling basis over the course of a year and asked about crime experienced in the 12 months prior to the interview. As a result of this, the victimisation experiences reported by respondents interviewed in a period of 12 months relate to a broader span of 23 months.
The VCS 2014/15 is comparable to previous and subsequent VCSs in that several questions have remained unchanged over time. Where possible, it was generally indicated in the report.
Statistics South Africa. Victims of crime survey 2014-2015 [dataset]. Version 1.1. Pretoria: Statistics South Africa [producer], 2015. Cape Town: DataFirst [distributor], 2016. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25828/xapa-h647