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No tricks with police crime figures

August 1, 2012

All crime data and statistics generated within the PDRM system have been audited and verified by Pricewaterhouse Coopers Malaysia (PwC), says Bukit Aman.

COMMENT

Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf

There have been quite a number of debates lately on the issues of crime, particularly on the accuracy of official crime statistics and police efficiency in combating crime. Various articles and reports have been written with many quarters offering differing views.

The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) have constantly been keeping the public abreast on the crime situation and police efforts in crime prevention.

In this article, PDRM would like to clarify pertinent issues concerning crime, and in particular respond to the article written by Lim Teck Ghee in CPI website, which was published on July 23.

Crime statistics released by the PDRM are the actual figures of criminal cases reported to and investigated by the police department. These figures are auto-generated by the department’s computer system, that is, Police Reporting System (PRS). In this way, no alteration or adjustment to the figures can be done, in order to portray a rosy picture of the crime situation as claimed by certain quarters.

The process of lodging a police report starts when a complainant walks into the police station and a police personnel at the enquiry desk receives the report and types it into the computer using the PRS. Then, the typed report is shown to the complainant for him/her to acknowledge it to be true and accurate.

If she/he cannot read Bahasa Malaysia, the report is read to him/her and translated, if possible. The complainant will then sign a copy of the report for acknowledgement. The PRS will then generate a police report number and the officer-in-charge of the police station classifies the complaint according to the nature of the report, whether it is of a civil or criminal category.

The officer in charge of the police district (OCPD) will subsequently re-check whether the report is appropriately classified.

The PRS is linked up to the contingent and Bukit Aman headquarters and also throughout the country. The Criminal Intelligence Units at the headquarters compile the crime statistics periodically – daily, weekly, monthly, and so on.

Since the inception of the PRS, PDRM have stopped compiling crime statistics manually, thus the question of doctored figures should not arise at all.

Lim may agree that while crime awareness has caused more victims to come forward to lodge police reports, there are instances where crime goes unreported for reasons known to the victim.

These are the so-called dark figures of crime. But so long as a case is reported and duly investigated, the public can be assured that it is reflected in the official crime statistics.

The PRS is monitored daily at the district, contingent and Bukit Aman headquarters levels. Senior officers at these levels regularly check the accuracy of the classification via the system itself.

As a matter of fact, this practice is so important that disciplinary action will be taken against those officers who failed to classify the cases accordingly and those who refused or failed to take down a report will be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure.

No tricks with crime figures

In short, PDRM would like to assure and reassure the public that we do not resort to deceiving the public by playing tricks with the crime figures.

Obviously, such wild and unfounded assumptions are against the interest of the police to serve the rakyat better. All crime data and statistics generated within the PDRM system have been audited and verified by Pricewaterhouse Coopers Malaysia (PwC).

Therefore, all figures presented by PDRM are valid and reliable in accordance with the standards of the professional auditors and not something of our own creation.

In light of this, it is definitely not true to claim that the current crime rate is the highest we have ever seen. Based on crime statistics over the past 10 years, the highest number of cases was recorded in 2008 with 211,645 cases.

With aggressive crime prevention measures taken by the current top leadership of the force, crime rates have been brought down in subsequent years. The implementation of NKRA Crime Prevention initiatives, in particular, has successfully helped reduce crime index to 177,520 in 2010 and 157,891 in 2011.

To gauge how the public feel about their safety and their confidence in the police service, Pemandu (Performance Management and Delivery Unit) has commissioned a private international company, TNS Research International, to conduct a public opinion survey from December 2009 to December 2011.

The survey is conducted with a sample size of 1,212 respondents aged 18 and above who are randomly picked proportionately according to state distribution. The mode of survey is face-to-face interviews.

The latest survey results for the period January to December 2011 revealed that the public’s “fear of being a victim of crime” has increased marginally from 52% in January 2011 to 52.9% in December 2011.

This slight increase could be attributed to the fact that some cases have generated more public interest, especially when they involved a “series” or “pattern” of specific crime such as fatal snatch-theft cases. The reports of such crimes have in turn formed public opinions on the “state of crime in the country”, hence registering an increase in the fear of becoming a victim.

On the other hand, the public satisfaction towards the performance of police service has shown a significant improvement, that is, from 56.6% in January 2011 to 70.5% in December 2011.

In his article, Lim made some valid recommendations on how to combat crime more effectively. In fact, numerous measures have been taken by PDRM to tackle crime, including those mentioned by Lim. First and foremost, the force always give the highest priority to tackling crime, right from the Inspector-General of Police to the lowest-ranked police officers. We also welcome legitimate criticisms and recommendations that will help us improve.

Broken Windows

The force is deploying more personnel to work on the ground through our “civilianisation” exercise, where desk works that are more clerical or administrative in nature are assigned to civilian staff, and the relieved uniformed personnel are transferred to the ground.

In addition, all officers and men, including those who are office-based, are required to patrol the street under the NKRA initiatives. For instance, our latest “Omnipresence” crime prevention strategy was launched recently where 300 uniformed personnel from the ranks of constables to superintendents are deployed to 10 strategic locations in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya daily. This is on top of the regular beat and patrol duties carried out by the respective police station personnel.

With regard to Lim’s suggestion to adopt the “Broken Windows” approach, PDRM have similar projects called Program Gerakan Tumpuan (PGT) and Safe City Programme (SCP).

PGT has been implemented since 2005 aimed at tackling social problems and crime, instil more values in the community and create greater rapport between residents and government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

In this programme, efforts were focused on the operational and strategic standpoint of policing, where resources have been managed optimally, with officers being redeployed to the streets. The combination of this redeployment of resources and new tactical initiatives has resulted in the early detection of crime in certain populated and business areas.

Some of the issues addressed under PGT are related to drugs, robbery and snatch thefts. The success of the PGT depended on the cooperation of the various organisations which have brought positive changes in the areas where the programme is implemented.

As a point of reference, a research conducted in the San Peng area in Kuala Lumpur by the National Institute of Public Administration (Intan) in 2006 showed a decrease in social problems and crime in this area.

As for the SCP, it was approved by the government in 2004 with the main objective of helping crime prevention, especially in crime-prone areas, specifically to keep cities safe. In other words, to prevent destruction to properties and lives and to tackle social and moral problems.

Under the SCP, 23 crime-prevention measures have been introduced including installing CCTVs at public spaces and crime-prone areas. These steps have contributed to the reduction in snatch thefts. The CCTV locations are identified through GIS (geographic integrated system) mapping of crime- prone areas and are monitored by PDRM.

This programme has received a Special Achievement in Geographical Integrated Systems (GIS) Award by ESRI (a US-based company specialising in project consultancy and implementation services) at the International User Conference in San Diego on July 25. The award was a form of recognition to the collaboration between PDRM and the respective agencies in implementing the Safe City Monitoring System.

In sum, we have no doubt that the author (Lim) has good intentions in his observations, but regrettably they do not reflect the actual state of affairs of the various efforts undertaken both by the government and PDRM to combat the ever-changing landscape of crime and criminality.

Our police force is committed to relentlessly continuing to protect the life and property of Malaysians – 24/7; rain or shine. In the spirit of supportive and caring Malaysians, we know that this is possible.

Also read:

How to combat growing crime

ACP Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf is the Assistant Chief Inspector-General Secretariat (Public Relations), Bukit Aman. This article is in response to Lim Teck Ghee’s article which was published in FMT under the title ‘How to combat growing crime’ on July 24.


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