Crime: Task force should review collection of statistics

The Asli Centre for Public Policy Studies warmly welcomes the statement by Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar that he does not manipulate crime figures.

However, can the IGP assure the public that the crime figures are collected and classified properly at the lower levels of the police force, where the junior police officers compile the reports?

To be fair, the public needs to be assured that the system to classify and submit crime statistics is scrupulously followed up with checks and balances to discourage any statistical abuses.

Some police stations and police officers, under pressure to meet the National Key Result Areas targets to reduce crime, may even cook up crime figures to look good and be rewarded for better performances.

The IGP has asked for more public support to combat crime. This is a fair request.

However, there is this credibility gap in the public’s confidence in the police and crime statistics and what is perceived to be the real crime situation on the ground. The public must believe that the police crime data is accurate.

Hence, the police should not simply dismiss the allegations of an anonymous complainant (a so-called Sumun Osram) on the crime statistics. The police owe the public a response.

We, therefore, strongly recommend that the government set up a task force made up of sincere and serious representatives from the police, universities and non-governmental organisations to review the system of collecting and classifying crime statistics.

The public should be informed of the task force’s findings within three months, with proposals for improvements to the statistical reporting system.

Then, public confidence in the police force will increase.

The public will rally more purposefully to the IGP’s clarion call for the public to cooperate closely with the police in fighting crime on a sustainable and long-term basis. The public expects a favourable police response.

Article published in The New Straits Times.

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