Evidence-based policing for South Africa - An introduction for police officers, researchers and communities


Evidence-based policing recognises that experience and intuition are crucial, but that research, analysis and evaluation should also inform police planning and practices. This guide offers an introduction to EBP and, based on existing evidence, to what works and what doesn’t in policing.

For Police: It is intended to help South Africa’s police services ensure that their work is informed by the best available evidence for what works and what does not. It encourages an organisational culture that supports scepticism, openness and critical thought. It equips policemen and women with the fundamentals required to test, evaluate and constantly learn from their work. Where this logic is incorporated into daily police work, officers can be confident that their conduct and their actions are based on the best knowledge of what works to reduce crime and to improve confidence in the police.

For Communities: It is intended to empower communities with a basic knowledge of EBP so that they can ask their local police to apply evidence- based thinking and practices to their work. For example, if a local commander tells a community that the police are using a particular strategy to tackle a crime problem, communities can explore whether it is based on evidence. They can ask police to explain how they identified and formulated their strategy and what indicators they will use to assess its impact. By understanding EBP, communities can support the police and hold them accountable for their activities.

For Researchers: While EBP should be police-led, an active and engaged research community can significantly strengthen the quality of evidence produced and help to identify and understand weaknesses in existing evidence. This guide will help researchers understand the kinds of research most likely to improve policing and public safety in South Africa, and lay a foundation for police-researcher partnerships.

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