Concern over crime rate

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

The alarming rate of criminality is serious cause for concern and an equally serious concern for President Chandrika Kumaratunga who took over the Interior Ministry expressing her ‘grave reservations’ about the UNF government’s ability to maintain law and order.

Kumaratunga for her part emphasised the need to take charge of the Police Department which comes under the Interior Ministry to check the increase.

But truth being stranger than fiction, statistics obtained by The Sunday Leader on crime rates for the month of November show that within a period of 20 days — from November 4 to 24 — the country has recorded 69 rape and sexual abuse cases, 103 reported robberies, 122 cases of house breaking and theft, along with 104 cases of theft of property including valuables over Rs. 5,000 among many others. The number of murders committed was unavailable.

The grand total of the number of crimes that took place between November 4- 24 stands at 521.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader, Director Crimes, Mahinda Hettiarachchi was rather baffled as to how this newspaper received statistics relating to crimes committed islandwide from November 4 – 24 as he claimed that the official report would be released only by December 10.

Hettiarachchi when asked about the crime rates, referring to the October report stated that there had been 111 cases of murder, 125 cases of rape and sexual abuse, 129 cases of theft of all types of vehicles, 128 cases of robberies worth above Rs. 25,000, 127 cases of theft of properties above Rs. 25,000 and two cases of manufacturing counterfeit currency among others.

As for the 111 cases of murder, Hettiarachchi explained that 83 cases have been solved. When queried what he meant by “solved,” he said that these cases have now reached the “inquiry stage.”

The rest of the cases (28), according to him are murders committed in an organised nature, which would take some time for the police to ‘solve’. He said that most of these unsolved cases are murders committed by underworld gangs.

Hettiarachchi asserted that out of the 125 cases of rape and sexual abuse reported for October, 102 have been solved, which meant they were now in the inquiry stage and the balance 23 cases are being looked in to.

He added that the highest number of rape and sexual cases were reported from areas in the Ratnapura, Anuradhapura and Tangalle Districts.

When asked whether there was an increase in the number of crimes committed in the country, Hettiarachchi stated, “There is no such increase.” He however, admitted that there is no decrease in the number of crimes committed in the country either.

According to his estimation, there is no increase in the number of murders, and explained that it is the nature of the murders that have alarmed the general public.

He further explained that murders are committed more openly and more brutally which makes people feel that there are more murders taking place in the country now than before.

His observation is that crimes couldn’t be totally eradicated from society. However, the prime concern of the police is the detection of crimes and solving them. “The public needs to be shown that action is being taken against wrongdoers and the good done by the police in solving crimes should also be highlighted to create a positive impact on the general public who are fast losing faith,” he said.

Originally Published at http://www.thesundayleader.lk/archive/20031207/news.htm

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