Reducing Violence in South Africa: From Policing to Prevention

South Africa is one of the 10 most violent countries in the world, despite having achieved massive reductions in homicide levels since 1994. Murder has increased annually over the past four years (2012/13-2015/16). This raises the question of whether the emphasis placed on policing and the criminal justice system to address crime and violence over the past 10 years has been the right policy choice. This policy brief argues that to see the long-term trend towards lower violence levels sustained, and improved upon, we have to radically shift how we spend state resources and what we spend them on. In short, we need to increase our investment in preventive social programmes that reduce the risk factors for violence while professionalising policing. This policy brief provides an overview of the current expenditure on the criminal justice system and private security and looks at what this has achieved. It also looks at what is known about spending on violence prevention programming and shows that while we are spending over R126.71 billion a year on the criminal justice system, only R9 billion is being spent by the state on programmes that can prevent violence.