Police must improve statement-taking skills - Nathi Mthethwa
19 Mar 2012
Minister Mthethwa calls for improvement in statement-taking by police, disciplinary misconduct investigations will be instituted to all police officers who fail to correctly capture statements.
The manner in which a statement is taken at a police station by police officers, can positively or negatively impact on a criminal conviction hence police must improve their statement-taking skills.
This is an instruction from the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa in response to a Parliamentary reply today; on what tests has he put in place to check that the standards of the South African Police Service (SAPS) are such that their evidence and statements will withstand the scrutiny of Court procedures. Secondly, whether he intends to take any steps against police personnel whose negligence has resulted in courts rejecting their evidence.
"All police officials are trained on statement-taking, collection of evidence and the presentation of evidence in court. Members of the Detective Service also receive practical training by means of role-plays on presenting evidence in court during training on the Resolving of Crime course and the Detective Commanders Learning Programme. Monitoring and Evaluation Statement Taking Intervention is also in place to ensure that statements in dockets are of a high standard."
Minister Mthethwa is of a firm view that for police to secure harsher sentences in Court, it is vital to ensure that statements from crime victims are thoroughly and factually-captured. "Disciplinary misconduct investigations will be instituted in terms of the SAPS Disciplinary Regulations to all police officers who fail to correctly capture statements because in the main, such mistakes can make or break a case. We shall therefore not gamble with lives of citizens."
During Monitoring and Evaluation, members who are not performing well, will be identified and group leaders will ensure that all the gaps which were identified will be closed. The SAPS disciplinary regulations make provision for disciplinary steps that may be taken against police personnel. "These regulations will be invoked against any police official whose evidence was rejected in court due to negligence. Identified members will be placed under the supervision of a mentor who will ensure that they are acquainted with all elements of crime, full description of witnesses, suspects, crime scene, exhibits as well as full particulars of a complainant and the commissioner of oath," added Minister Mthethwa.
Outlining further interventions, the Minister pointed out that when it comes to training, like any other science, it must always be perfected and continuously improved. "There is a Workplace Learning Intervention in existence in the organisation wherein the Skills Development Facilitator of each station and unit has the responsibility to coordinate the identification of skills gaps of members and also facilitates the development and training of members with regard to their skills gap. This training and development must then be linked to the individual's development plan."
The operational aspect of this training is that officers attend formal courses after their skills gaps have been identified. At the workplace there are commanders, group leaders and supervisors who act as mentors to these members to ensure that the theory learned is operationalised and that there is sustainability and continued learning.
The Ministry hopes that with these interventions, police will be capacitated to improve on statement-taking which when presented in Courts will result in harsher sentences for anyone who breaks the law.
Issued by: South African Police Service
19 Mar 2012
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