South Africa: Crime rate halved

The crime rate in the city of Johannesburg has fallen by 50% due to a new policing policy. The installation of video surveillance cameras in the streets of Johannesburg has caused this dramatic reduction in street crime. The cameras are installed in the commercial centre of the city in a project directed by Simphiwe Namba, whose team survey 63 screens which cover the entire area.

The installation of surveillance videos has been criticised by some as an infringement of individual rights, while in some countries, it is accepted that video cameras will be used in shopping centres and banks, but not in the case of surveillance in public transports. The trend in the 1980s to install super squadrons in peripheral areas of the major cities saw a dramatic leap in street crime, this being another victory for the generation of managers which poured from universities, glued to their statistics books but not to reality. The fact is that in cities where there is a strong presence of police on the streets, the crime rate is lower. In certain cities, such as London and Lisbon, there are a great number of plain-clothes policemen in circulation at any time of day or night.

This costs money. Although public spending is an enemy of the new market-oriented economies, sometimes it is necessary. And it works.


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