Shortly after arriving in Cape Town, South Africa as part of the Police Accountability Tour I came across some of the work done by those active with the Police and Criminal Justice Systems Reform program, housed at the University of Cape Town’s Centre of Criminology.
After the exchange of a few emails Jacob and I were in the office of Elrena van der Spuy, who’s long focused on policing in South Africa. In fact van der Spuy was involved with the formation of some policies that were implemented after the 1994 regime change.
As van der Spuy expounds, though a structure may look good on paper, it doesn’t always take that shape in reality. What now is possible? What can be learned from the past and from elsewhere? How might a more widespread, bottom-up campaign of filming police activities play a role?
Elrena van der Spuy
Elrena is a Professor in the Department of Public Law, a member of the Centre of Criminology, and Deputy Dean of Post-Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Law at the University of Cape Town. She has a PhD from the University of Cape Town, a Masters degree in Sociology from University of Stellenbosch and has taught Sociology and Criminology at a number of Institutions. Elrena has published on crime and policing in South Africa, Africa and internationally. More recently she has begun to explore the role of police in peacekeeping on the one hand, and the role of the South African police in the border conflict of the post-1976 period of South African history on the other.
Police and Criminal Justice Systems Reform program
The Police Reform programme focuses on issues relating to the reform of the public police in Africa more generally, and Southern Africa more specifically. The research aims to contribute to the development of African police studies by coming to terms with the state of the public police in Africa; the policy frameworks in terms of which police reform is articulated, and the structural constraints confronting such reform. A deliberate attempt is also made to situate the discussion on police reform in the crime context by exploring the challenges confronting the police’s role in crime control and crime prevention in Africa.
Other focus areas include:
1. Police in the context of Peacekeeping – an exploration of the way in which the transnational space of peace missions places new demands on pockets of national police.
2. Policy transfer – ongoing engagement with debates on policy transfer and emulation.
3. Policing conflict: challenges and dilemmas – an investigation into the politics and logistics of policing conflict and the conflict of policing through the examination of national and regional case studies.
4. Social history of criminal justice reform – exploring through a series of case studies the social histories of South African criminal justice reform with the view to documenting through oral histories the perceptions and experience of elites situated in policy networks, bureaucratic institutions and/or civil society structures of post-Apartheid reconstruction of criminal justice.