PUTRAJAYA: The authorities should not solely rely on the annual crime index to assure the public of their safety, a criminologist said.
P Sundramoorthy, of Universiti Sains Malaysia, said such an index did not necessarily reflect actual crime trends and public perception.
This was because in some cases, the data might have been adjusted to uphold the image of law enforcement agencies, he said.
Sundramoorthy said this following the recent release of the National Crime Index which showed that crime had been reduced by 4.1% in 2022, with 50,819 cases recorded compared with 52,974 cases in 2021.
Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani was reported to have said that commercial crime cases had also dropped from 31,490 in 2021 to 30,536 last year.
Sundramoorthy said policymakers, experts, researchers, crime prevention activists and interest groups had stressed that such indexes did not provide a “clear, accurate and holistic picture of crime trends”.
“Although crime rates have significantly decreased in the last decade, public perception remains negative,” he told FMT.
Sundramoorthy proposed that the authorities carry out surveys on public perception of crime and “self-reported offending surveys” to have a better context of crime in Malaysia.
“Self-reported offending surveys” refer to those where respondents answer various questions and confidentially report crimes they may have committed.
According to Sundramoorthy, this type of survey is common in the US.
“The use of these surveys is very valuable to gauge and truly understand criminal trends in society.
“Crimes that draw much public interest, even if the numbers reported are considered low, must be included in these crime indexes so that knowledge and awareness in society are based on facts and not assumptions.”