LAW and order is in a state of disarray. The number of petty crimes is alarmingly on the increase, particularly in major cities. Relaxed security measures especially early morning, as New Age reported on Tuesday, has left residents of the capital city unprotected as organised crime gangs come to be on the prowl around dawn. The number of incidents of robbery leading to murder, including the death of a Savar highway circle assistant superintendent of police, happened early in the morning. Dhaka Metropolitan Police officials, too, have acknowledged that early hours of the day, especially between 3:00am and 7:00am to be most vulnerable time. However, they are yet to conduct any crime analysis of robbery and mugging to develop a more specific strategy to fight crimes during the hours. The mechanism in place to oversee the activities of on-duty police personnel at night proved to be ineffective as, as New Age reported, on-duty police personnel remain either absent from check-points or sleep on the footpath. On another occasion, assistant subinspector of the Khulna Reserve Force was caught when he was trying to rob a trader at Khamarbari in Dhaka at night. When the law enforcement agencies are expected to actively engage in preventing crimes, they are found either negligent in duties or to be directly involved in crimes. In such a situation, it will not be mistaken to say that the government has failed to perform its mandated duty to keep law and order.
What is even more worrying is that aggrieved citizens do not feel safe enough to seek help from the police fearing further harassment. Many victims also think that lodging complaints with the police is a futile exercise as cases related to robbery and mugging rarely roll to trial and conviction. According to the media and public relations centre of the metropolitan police, the number of reported incidents of robbery was 222 in 2012, 241 in 2013, 265 in 2014, 205 in 2015 and 132 in 2016. Of the cases, 289 are still under investigation. The prosecution department could fail to say how many robbery cases were now under trial. It becomes, therefore, evident that the system is at flaw in all stages of crime prevention — from crime patrolling to investigation to trial process. Earlier in this column we have written about corruption in recruiting police officials. The procedural misconduct of police including custodial torture and unlawful detention is routinely reported. It is high time that the incumbent recognised its failure in maintaining law and order and took strict measures to curb crimes. Superficial approaches such as celebrating community police day or mere announcement of crime prevention drives will not do the work unless the alleged corruption and police involvement in criminal activities are taken seriously.
The government, under the circumstances, must develop a foolproof strategy to make night patrols effective to end petty crimes at dawn. It should, more importantly, radically reform the police because corrupt and negligent police officers cannot enforce law.
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