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Crime expert: Let’s retake our streets

 | August 2, 2012

There is too much noise and finger pointing and not enough done to reduce crime, according to an academician.

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PETALING JAYA: Academic experts have weighed in on the debate on crime statistics, saying everyone could play a role in the fight against crime.

Speaking to FMT, two academicians said too many people were making too much noise and not doing enough to reduce the crime rate.

“The only one thing we haven’t done so far is to blame God,” said crime analyst Kamal Affendi Hashim.

“Why don’t we go and take back our streets. That’s how we Malaysians should act: work hard to solve problems, irrespective of who we are or our political colours.

“Criminals don’t bother if you are PKR, DAP, PAS, BN or Umno, or whether you are from Negeri Sembilan or Malacca.”

He said being paranoid over statistics and showing excessive fear would only empower the criminals. “If you keep away from the streets, distance yourself people, wouldn’t that amount to giving power to the criminal?”

Asked to comment whether he thought police statistics were accurate, Kamal said: “The government is in the business of giving out facts, politicians are in the business of making things miserable, spinning truth to fit their agenda.”

He noted that the Malaysian police’s crime solving rate was 43% per year. That compares favourably with the international standard of 25% a year.

Kamal commended the various groups for making efforts to combat crime, especially those who use social media to provide information to the public.

But he warned against misinformation, which he said could create unnecessary fear.

“Social media is good if it has the ability to critique rather than condemn,” he said. “If you turn into a group that is judgemental, you become part of the problem rather than provide a solution.

“We don’t want fearmongers, or those who say, ‘Let’s be vigilantes.’ The sad thing is none of these people has actually made a first move himself.”

Putting thing in context

Kamal said those complaining about high crime rates often failed to put things into context.

“For example, for the past 10 years, one crime has been increasing in Malaysia. It is the number one crime. It is motorcycle theft. We have an average of 60,000 of missing motorbikes per year, 45% out of all other crimes. Do people know that? Are people making noise about that?”

Asked to suggest solutions, Kamal said everyone could apply risk management to his daily life.

He said: “Keep in mind this formula: perpetrator plus target plus opportunity equals an act of crime.

“So how do you manage the risks? You should avoid the risks, spread out the risks, transfer the risk and abet the risk.

“By ‘spreading the risk’ I mean things like not putting all your valuables in the master bedroom. ‘Transferring risks’ means buying insurance for your TV set, for example. And you can ‘abet the risk’ by using security cameras.”

Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist and psychologist Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat agreed that everyone had to play his part in fighting crime.

“Unfortunately, many people don’t know their parts, or just don’t want to play their parts,” she said. “Crime fighting is a concerted effort, not the job of police or teachers alone. So, at the end of the day, it comes down to each and every person’s responsibility, including the government’s.”

Geshina described the current approach to crime prevention was “reactive” rather than “pro-active”.

“Much too often,” she said, “we wait until things happen. And then we try to prevent them from happening again. That’s not good enough.”

Chaos

Asked whether the increase social media discourse on crime was helping, Geshina said such media were merely a tool.

“If using it creates better awareness and the reduce of fear of crime, by all means go ahead. But if it gives people more fear, creates suspicion of even your own neighbours and encourages an environment of hatred or prejudice and even racialism, then no.”

She said that there were groups trying to make the country safer while others were getting a kick out of creating chaos.

“Do not misuse technology,” she said. “There was this time when a serial rapist was on the loose. A girl started telling everyone she was raped, used tweets and SMSes. We found out it was actually a boyfriend she had broken up with. That’s fear mongering.”

Geshina also warned the public against taking the law into their own hands.

“Yes, you can make a citizen’s arrest, but you are not allowed to beat the person half dead,” she said.

“Even if you apprehend a person, you can only do what is allowed under the law. Hand him over to the police. When the case goes to court, you must turn up, because that’s where a lot of cases fall through.”

She advised all those who were trying to make the streets safer to do it continually.

“It shouldn’t be a one-off thing and we must be genuine in these things,” she said.


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