Department of Correctional Services (DCS) senior managers yesterday (24 November 2020) convened at Leeuwkop Management area, Gauteng Region, for the 2020/21 second quarterly review session.
This session was consciously convoked prior to the hosting of the 2020 Annual Strategic Planning Session, in order for the Department to measure its progress in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and clearly define its challenges towards effectively planning for the next (2021/22) financial year and the new normal.
National Commissioner Arthur Fraser expressed his sincere appreciation to all DCS officials and management, for the leadership that everyone provided during the first and second quarter of this year. He acknowledged that this was a difficult time, and it has evidently affected the Department’s performance. He said the leadership of the institution is forced to internalize the realities we are confronted with, and must be inspired to be innovative and creative in doing their work. Commissioner Fraser further alluded that it is important for DCS to be cautious when responding to issues, and said the leadership should ensure that every action to be taken is evidence-based and decisions are sober, strategic and progressive.
The pandemic outbreak has caused a decline in quarter one and two performance, compared to the previous financial year. The reprioritisation of work in order to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and the restrictions to fight the spread of the virus negatively affected the majority of performance indicators. Targets for programmes such as spiritual care, psychological services and restorative justice, which required physical engagements, were adversely impacted. The 50/50 work rotation plan also affected progress in the administration work of the Department.
Although the Department has struggled to meet targets during lockdown, the overall performance of the Department improved in the second quarter from 55% to 61%. In the second quarter, incarceration improved by 20%, rehabilitation went up by 14%, development and care reflected an improvement of 6% while administration and social reintegration remained at 50%.
Regions projected similar challenges such as an increase in assaults and escapes. Limited functioning of courts during lockdown resulted in overcrowded remand facilities. Under the circumstances of the coronavirus outbreak, inmates experienced high levels of irritation and frustration which culminated into aggression towards each other and also towards staff during the period. Inadequate capacity and staff supervision was another contributing factor in the increase of the number of assaults inside correctional centres. Idling of inmates as a result of limited delivery of rehabilitation programmes, and frustrations caused by suspension of visitations to correctional facilities also caused challenges.
DC Strategic Planning and Management, Ms Anbigay Naicker said that as the lockdown levels are lifted the performance of DCS is expected to improve. All branches and regions have put remedial measures in place to deal with the lowered levels of performance. Innovative ways to improve performance such as using modern technology will also be looked into under the new normal.
Today marks the first day of the Department’s three-day Strategic Planning Session, and Minister Ronald Lamola will be setting the tone. The session will be highlighting priorities, strengthening operations as well as assessing and adjusting the organisation’s direction in response to a changing environment.
Officials across the country may follow the strategic planning session, through the following link: http://dcsconference.sentech.tv