Having looked at why crime is on the rise and what we can do prior to criminal acts the next obvious point of examination is how to react to a crime.
The often repeated mantra is that crime rates are converse to the number of prompt arrest of perpetrators. The more likely people are being caught for crimes, more people are disinclined to crime.
This is where government has to play its role.
Criminal methods are getting more and more complex, however the business of investigating crime is as ever manual. If the investigation actually happens.
It is the sheer bureaucratic structure of the police that is telling. The police pride about being 137 years old and being a national force – but people are still required to have direct relations with the respective police station and district police to get any progress on any matter.
If I have someone breaking into my home – I am better off getting the number of the nearest police station rather than the national switchboard (using the triple 9 hotline). With all the IT support possible and google maps, how can it possibly be necessary for anyone to have to call the right police station, in order to be served?
Immediate response is the main part of any means to stop crime. Criminals don’t wait to be caught, and the time between act and response will determine the potential of arrest.
And rather than waiting for national reform, locals have to react. If response time for any call is more than 15 minutes – then the criminal is unlikely to be caught at the crime scene. It substantially reduce arrests later too.
Additionally, as a member of the general public we have to not get satisfied with arrests. Just like the opening scene of Casablanca, our police are keen on making blanket arrests based on bringing in the usual suspects.
We must become the annoyance the police cannot ignore. No previous complaint is left to the police to respond to us.
The police are looking at ways to close the file, not solve the crime.
The very nature of the activity is ambiguous and open to abuse. Sitting in the police station playing solitaire can be considered an investigation of sorts.
Involving NGOs interested in police diligence helps. SUARAM are interested in crime. So are localised NGOs keying in to resolve crime. There are safe city programmes like in Cyberjaya.
The problem is there is never the reconciling of programmes, and these programmes are often focussed on the production of reading material.
Crime is not a political issue, although the non-engagement of it makes it one.
The only reason for any of us to help others beat crime is that it might happens to us. We all can be victims.
The causes and police can only take blame to a point, and they are a reflection of our own attitudes or disinterest.
We need to act.
A dogged society that wishes to see all crimes investigated and solved through the involvement of police, enforcement agencies, civil groups and locals will be one that sends a strong message to potential criminals.
That we just won’t sit and let crime make all of us victims. We will act in unison.
That is the most powerful deterrent to crime, the knowledge to any criminal that this society acts against crime all the time.