Crime Watch.

Much has been said about the rate of crime in Papua New Guinea. Government institutions that are responsible for controlling crime – the Police, and rehabilitating criminals – the Corrective Services – has been largely blamed for not doing enough. These institutions in return have defended themselves shifting the blame to the government of the day for not putting money where their mouth is! While the ball is being kicked from court to court, between the government, police and the corrective services, the public continue to suffer at the hands of criminals.

Curbing crime in cities and suburbs also need the support and the co-operation of the public. This can not be overemphasised. I think another aspect of community support that the police and othe law enforcement agencies need is to equip the public with the relevant information so that in a city like Port Moresby where petty and opportunistic crimes are rampant, the public can use that information to manage their risk of being a victim.

What type of information should be provided to the public?

  1. Types of crime.
  2. The location of the crimes.
  3. Times of the day (say over a 24 hour period) that crimes are common.
  4. For car theft, what car models and types are the target of armed hold ups.
  5. Map out the high risk surburbs of major cities (e.g Lae, Port Moresby) and make it known.
  6. Names and faces of wanted criminals and the list of crimes committed.

These are the only ones I can think of. They may be others.

These information should than be published in a two or three page flyer – call it Crime Watch – with page sizes the same as that of newspapers, then circulate them through the distribution network of the newspapers. These fliers can be put inside the newspapers so that when someones buys a newspaper, they also have a copy of the “Crime Watch” publication. This can be a community service that the newspapers or other publishing and printing companies can do to assist law enforcement agencies. The police and the corrective services can just provide the statistical information. The Crime Watch can be publised quaterly or at other set intervals. Through this kind of arrangment, the public can be equiped with the kind of information that they can use to protect themselves as well as assisting law enforcement agencies.

There is no denying now that parts of major cities in Papua New Guinea are “NO GO Zones!” For me anyway. And the socio-economic factors that contribute to high crime rates are well known and there is no need for me to mention them again. What is needed is co-operation between the government, private sector, law enforcement agencies and the public to come up with innovative ideas and methods to control crime. Furthermore, the public need to be equiped with the right information, packaged in a way for them to understand so that they can manage their own risk of being another statistic or victim in the streets of Port Moresby or Lae.


About rodney itaki

Medical doctor and public health specialist from Papua New Guinea.
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