Crime increases by 73% in April, 14 police officers charged for various offences – Acting COMPOL

Crime increases by 73% in April, 14 police officers charged for various offences – Acting COMPOL

By Alipate Narawa
Thursday 23/05/2024
Acting Commissioner of Police Juki Fong Chew

There has been a 73 percent increase in overall crime in April this year while serious crimes increased by 65 percent when compared to the same period in April 2023.

Acting Commissioner of Police Juki Fong Chew says crimes against women also increased by 15 percent while crimes against children recorded an increase of 5 percent.

Chew says factors we also have to consider is the increase of Cybercrime related offences and fraud, committed through mobile phones, hence the formation of special teams such as the MPAiSA taskforce as there has been an increase in fraud and cyber related offences.

He says in recognizing the importance of maintaining the integrity of the policing profession, the number of police officers charged will also be released on a monthly basis.

The Acting Commissioner says for the month of April, 14 police officers were charged with various offences such as assault, theft, unlawful possession of illicit drugs, damaging property and conspiracy to defeat justice.

He says in their collective commitment in restoring the blue culture of policing, they are ensuring the fair and transparent handling of all cases against police officers, and these are independently sanctioned by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution.

The Acting Commissioner assures members of the public that officers will be held accountable for their actions, a message, cascaded down to all officers.

Chew says the number of illicit drugs recorded an increase of 32 percent, as arrests for drug related offences continues throughout the five policing divisions.

He says in comparison to the month of March 2024, overall crime increased by 17 percent, while serious crime increased by 2 percent.

The Acting Commissioner says crimes against women noted a decrease of 11 percent while Crimes against Children recorded a decrease of 1 percent when compared to last month.

He says making the comparison to the previous month is a realistic representation of the crime situation.

The Acting COMPOL says prevalent offences during the month of April 2024 were Theft, Assault Causing Actual Bodily Harm, Burglary, Unlawful Possession of Illicit Drugs and Criminal Intimidation.

He says there were 778 reports of theft in April compared to 482 in March, and a contributing factor to the increase, was a case of theft in the Eastern Division where the accused was charged with 295 counts.

He says there are a lot of issues to consider when making the comparison to the previous year as the factors of crime are constantly evolving, and over a one-year period, there are various issues that have to be examined in order to see whether current policing efforts are effective or not.

The Acting Commissioner says while the 73 percent figure may be alarming, this is the comparison to April 2023, and over the 12-month period, a number of issues have impacted policing with the criminal landscape changing.

He says therefore, they are adopting the monthly comparison to ensure relevance of the statistics to real time situation.

The Acting Commissioner says policing challenges vary from the high attrition rate to the evolving criminal landscape.

He says the Fiji Police Force has nothing to hide, and they know that these high figures will be used as a narrative to say that the crime situation is out of control.

The Acting COMPOL says a number of these reports were crimes committed during past months, but were reported during the month of April, investigated with the perpetrator appearing in a court of law.

He says it is also interesting to note that a number of the accused persons were habitual offenders for drug related offences, theft, burglary, assault, rape, indecent assault and damaging property and through otheir community policing efforts, they are also trying to break the vicious cycle of crime.

The Acting Commissioner has also extended the organisation’s appreciation to UNODC, Ministry of Home Affairs and Communications Fiji Limited for the recent Talanoa session held on Responding to the Illicit Drugs Situation, as it allowed the exchange of information and open discussions on issues impacting not only drugs, but policing in general.

He says they are truly grateful of the support shown towards policing efforts, and amidst the few negative issues that have tarnished the reputation of the entire organisation, the number of officers committed to their oath of service and upholding the integrity of policing are many.

The Acting COMPOL says there are internal issues that have impacted policing such as the high attrition rate, however, as the mandated organisation tasked with ensuring the safety and security of our nation and visitors, and through the pull and push of resources and by addressing internal systems and processes, they are managing by tackling crimes that are known to lead to other crimes, hence their persistent efforts on the war on drugs, known to be associated with other crimes.

Chew says there is a need to address the main drivers of crime, be it emotional or economic as these are contributing factors of crime and operations will be heightened on the monitoring of known offenders, receivers of stolen property, snap checks, patrols, enhancing stakeholder engagement, capacity building through the training of officers at the national, regional and international levels.

The Acting Commissioner says the complexities of crime are many, and identifying root causes remains a focus.

He says the solution to these crimes lies within our communities, hence the urgent need to adopt a holistic collaborative approach with the support of Government, the vanua, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations and the private sector.

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