Following my request for an investigation into the devastating decline in the number of police reservists in the Western Cape, the Provincial Police Ombudsman has completed his investigation and report. The report confirms that 326 police reservists have been lost in the last three financial years, which translates to a total number of 5216 policing hours lost.
These findings confirm that the new reservist policy is flawed and constraints police reservist recruitment. I will now forward this report to the Civilian Secretariat for Police which develops SAPS policies.
In October 2017, I requested that the provincial police Ombudsman investigate the decline in the number of police reservists. Replies to my Parliamentary Questions revealed that over the last decade the number of active reservists serving the police and our communities decreased by 84%.
Police Reservists play a critical role in assisting the SAPS, functioning as a force-multiplier. Their role cannot be underestimated. It is therefore concerning that severe under resourcing is prevalent not only among ordinary police personnel, but also in the reservist force.
I initially raised this matter with national police management in 2015, when the decline in reservists was sitting at 60%. However, it seems that very little action has been taken by the national government to improve on the status quo since then. It is for this reason that I reported this matter to the Provincial Ombudsman and requested an investigation.
The Ombudsman confirmed the decline in the number of active reservists. In the 2015/16 financial year, the number of active reservists totalled 1050, but this year the total number of active reservists totalled 724, a decline of 31%. The decline in reservists is concerning in a context of persistent violent crime which continues to plague the Western Cape.
The loss of 326 reservists over the last 3 financial years alone has resulted in potentially 163 vehicles (calculated at 2 members per vehicle) less that can be deployed for sector policing and 5216 lost policing hours. This equates to a total of 217 policing days lost over the same period. During the 2017/2018 financial year, as much as 109 policing days were lost – the equivalent of 1/3 of a year due to reservist cuts.
The report highlights some of the following reasons for low recruitment of reservists in the Western Cape:
A large number of reservists do not meet the criteria as they are not in possession of a grade 12 qualification. Especially communities in rural areas.
The majority of potential applicants are unemployed and thus do not meet the criteria to be employed.
Reservists must be 40 years and younger according to the recruitment criteria. The most productive reservists were previously found to be members that were close to the age of retirement or already on retirement. Reservists which did not meet the recruitment criteria were dismissed, although they performed well. This is particularly applicable on reservists which were older than 40 years.
When an applicant fails psychometric test, there is a six month waiting period before they can reapply. This results in them losing interest.
The following recommendations concerning the findings stated in the report have been made:
· Section 9 of National Instruction 3 of 2014 to be amended
· Specific attention should be given to broadening the scope of recruitment i.e. unemployed members of society should be given consideration.
· Revise training to bring it in line with inherent job requirements.
· An implementation plan be provided by the National Commissioner of the SAPS in terms of paragraph 39 of National Instruction 3 of 2014.
The findings would then indicate that the decline in reservists is a result of a reservist policy that has prevented willing South Africans from volunteering for the police reservist corps.
For this reason, I will be forwarding this report to the Civilian Secretariat for Police which develops SAPS policies.
As the DA in the Western Cape we remain committed to fighting the chronic police under-resourcing, which is having a negative impact on crime and safety in our communities.