Budget sends police back to basics

2013-02-27 15:02 - Sapa
(Nielen de Klerk, News24) ~ News24

Parliament - The budget allocation for the police will prioritise basic crime fighting in coming years, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday.

"The spending focus over the medium term will be on providing basic policing services," the 2013 budget states.

Gordhan announced that the bulk of the police department's budget (R67.9bn in 2013/14, rising to R75.8bn by 2015/16 ) will go towards visible policing at police stations, in an effort to drive down crime rates.

"(The police budget) accounts for 46.6% of the department's total budget owing to the labour intensive nature of policing."

According to the budget, this is designed to help the police service achieve clear targets in reducing serious and violent crime over the next three years. The aim is to reduce the number of contact crimes from 623 000 last year, to roughly 416 000 by 2015.

The police budget will also re-prioritise R2.5bn over the next three years to strengthen detective and forensic services.

Gordhan set aside R154bn for the security cluster in 2013, compared to R233 for education, sport and culture.

The budget allocation for the justice department forecasts boosting the capacity of the Public Protector and the Special Investigating Unit, but their actual annual allocations are set to grow at a slower rate than over the past three years.

According to the new budget, the two corruption-busting institutions' collective number of investigators will increase from the current 515, to 711 in 2015.

Gordhan said this was in line with the National Development Plan's call to strengthen the criminal justice system.

"The (justice) department will contribute to the plan's goal of building a corruption free society by continuing to strengthen the investigative capacity of the Public Protector of South Africa and the Special Investigating Unit."

However, the spending estimates for the next three years show that after sizeable budget increases last year, funding for the Public Protector will grow by an average 8% annually, while that for the SIU will decline by more than 2%on average until 2015/16.

The budget allocation for the Asset Forfeiture Unit will also grow more slowly in coming years.

The budget provides for funding for Legal Aid South Africa to employ more legal representatives for the poor, and for an additional R108m to set up more Thuthuzela care centres for rape victims.

Twenty additional centres will be established over the next three years as part of efforts to combat the abuse of women and children.

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