Photo caption: Learners at the launch of Child Protection Week in Kimberley in the Northern Cape.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has called on police officers to go beyond the call of duty to protect children.
In a message to police during Child Protection Week, Minister Mthethwa stressed the importance of protecting and caring for children throughout the year as they are the most vulnerable members of society.
“Police must play a prominent role by ensuring they treat victims of crime with respect, ensure statements are correctly taken and not only arrest the perpetrators, but conduct good investigations to secure harsher convictions,” he added.
To ensure that police officers are regularly trained, SAPS has included a victim empowerment learning programme in their in-service training programme.
“We are also prioritising specialised training for investigators of sexual offences to ensure that we move beyond arrest, but secure harsher convictions,” the Minister said.
“A total of 17 314 out of 21 100 detectives are trained in detective-related courses. A further 2 161 detectives will be trained on the basic detective course during the 2012/2013 financial year,” he added. Stressing the importance of taking statements correctly, he said this process had a significant impact on the outcome and conclusion of cases.
The Minister noted that Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units (FCS) had been re-introduced at all 176 SAPS clusters in the nine provinces. There are currently 2 155 detectives at these units and with 1 276 vehicles. Previously, the FCS Units consisted of only 1 864 detectives.
To improve resources, an additional amount of R49,5 million was allocated to the FCS. To date, the FCS units have achieved over 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of 73 per cent for crimes against women above 18 years old and 70 per cent for crimes against children under 18 years old.
A total of 479 trained detectives that had been transferred to other components and divisions within SAPS in the past have been placed back in the detective services environment. There were six courses for training of Detective Commanders in which 346 commanders were trained this year.
Mthethwa also noted that SAPS collaborated with the Department of Basic Education to implement preventative programmes in support of making schools safe and secure environments free from violence and crime.
“Regarding sexual offences, prevention programmes in schools are also a focus of the interdepartmental team dealing with rape and sexual offences. … Learners are encouraged to report any form of abuse to the SAPS,” the minister said.