Call for comments on the Proposed Revised National Standards of Policing for Municipal Police Services

The National Commissioner of Police has called for comments on the Proposed Revised National Standards of Policing for Municipal Police Services with regard to, firstly, crowd management during gatherings and demonstrations and, secondly, the arrest and treatment of an arrested person until such person is handed over to a community service centre commander.

The documentation is available from the SAPS website at the following two links: dardcrowdmanagement.pdf st.pdf

Comments are to be submitted by 9 July 2024 to:

Maj. Gen. M van Rooyen,

Division: Legal Services


Section 64L of the South African Police Service Act of 1995 (SAPS Act) empowers the National Commissioner of Police to determine national standards of policing for municipal services and also to determine national standards with regard to the training of members of municipal police services. It is accordingly required that such draft standards be published in the Gazette and that stakeholders have 60 days from the data publication to submit comments.

The first draft standards deal with a range of issues such as crowd management principles, designation and responsibilities of responsible officers, threat assessments and so forth. Of particular importance may be the proposed duties set out for the “first responder” to an informal protest. These are significant obligations that may then fall with municipal police services since a first responder means the first official who responds to and arrives at the scene of a spontaneous gathering. Such an official may be a member of the Service (i.e. SAPS) or a member (of a municipal police service) or any other law enforcement agency. It is very likely that complying with the standards may, at least, have notable budgetary implications for local governments.

Attention is furthermore drawn to the National Municipal Policing Standard for Crowd Management During Gatherings and Demonstrations that was gazetted on 20 March 2008 (No. 30882). From the proposed revised national standards, it is not clear if the intention is that these will now replace the 2008 minimum standards. No information is provided on whether there were indeed shortcomings in the 2008 national standards that are in need of correction.

The second proposed minimum standard deals with the arrest and the treatment of an arrested person until such a person has been handed over to a community service centre commander. The standards derive directly from the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977, setting out the requirements stipulated there. It further sets out the requirements for a lawful arrest and the manner of effecting an arrest. Of particular importance is the arrest of a respondent in the case of an incident of domestic violence. This refers to section 3(1) of the Domestic Violence Act of 1998 which requires that a member may arrest without a warrant a person who is or has been in a domestic relationship with the complainant and whom the member reasonably suspects of having committed any offence against the complainant. Members of municipal police services have the powers and obligations provided for in the Domestic Violence Act contained in section 2 (duty to assist and inform complainant of rights), section 4 (duty and obligation to assist in application for protection order) and section 8 (duty to arrest or serve notice), as prescribed by the Minister via notice in the Gazette in 1999. 

By Africa Criminal Justice Reform, DOI

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