National victims of crime survey

Type Working Paper - Institute for security studies (ISS)
Title National victims of crime survey
Issue 175
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2008
Page numbers 1-16
In October and November 2007, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) conducted a national crime and victimisation survey (NCVS) to gather information on South Africans’ perceptions and experiences of crime and the criminal justice system. The survey followed on from two earlier victim surveys, one commissioned by the Department of Safety and Security and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and carried out by Statistics South Africa in March 1998 (Statistics South Africa, 1998), and an ISS study conducted in September 2003 (Burton et al, 2003). As with the 2003 study before it, the 2007 study had two central goals: to provide an accurate picture of crime levels in the country to complement that provided by the official crime statistics published annually by the South African Police Service (SAPS), and to contribute to the establishment of a longitudinal dataset that will make it possible to track trends over time. Similar victim surveys have been developed and used in many countries over the last four decades to complement police statistics in formulating a holistic picture of crime. They provide an important addition to police statistics, which while essential for tracking crime trends, do not provide an entirely accurate picture of crime, as victims oft en do not report crime to the authorities. Victim surveys have several advantages. By asking victims directly about their experience of crime, victim surveys avoid many of the problems relating to non-reporting that aff ect police data. Th e surveys also substantially improve the ability to understand the impact of crime on society, by providing more accurate estimates of the volume of crime and how it changes over time, as well as the nature of crime. Victim surveys also provide an opportunity to collect data on people’s perceptions and experiences of crime, as well as their views on police and court performance, and the treatment of victims. Finally, they allow for the collection of information on what communities are doing inresponse to crime, which is important for developing crime prevention and community-police partnerships (Burton et al, 2003). Together, the 1998, 2003 and 2007 studies provide almost a decade’s worth of data on levels of victimisation; public perceptions about crime; the fear of crime; attitudes towards the police and courts; and attitudes towards non-state forms of policing and protection. This paper – the first in a series of papers on the survey results – provides an overview of the central fi ndings of the 2007 survey. It examines the key victimisation and reporting trends since 1998, as well as changes in the public’s perception of crime, responses to crime and the performance of the criminal justice system. More in-depth analyses of these issues will be published in the forthcoming series of ISS papers. The survey results were analysed by race, province, gender, Living Standards Measure (LSM) groupings1, urban-rural location and community type. The paper presents only those findings that appear influenced by these variables.

Related studies