PDRM response to 'Crime stats - let the truth be told'
COMMENT In response to the article ‘Crime Statistics - Let the truth be told” first published on Aug 22, 2012 via the http://liewchintong.com blogsite, and subsequently published by several online portals, we would like to state that any public feedback is welcomed and will be given due consideration.
As we all know it, crime reduction is everybody’s business. The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) believe that all kind of feedback will enable us to improve our services to the rakyat, in line with the call for the public sector to enhance their effectiveness, efficiency and productivity. Hence, we appreciate the concerns brought about by the letter from a “veteran policeman.”
We would, however, like to register our regret and utmost disappointment that the respective publications including the blog owner did not see fit to verify and check with PDRM on the facts of the allegations before presenting the letter to their readers.
Multiple factual inaccuracies
First and foremost, we would like to highlight multiple factual inaccuracies upon which the conclusions of the article were drawn.
These corrections and clarifications are necessary to enable the public to make an informed assessment of the situation.
The central hypothesis of the article in question and its respective allegations have been synthesised in the rest of the rest of the document below.
Here, PDRM would like to respond to every allegation published in the article.
“In 2009, the Government gave PDRM the impossible target of reducing crime by 20%. PDRM succumbed to this pressure.”
To set the record straight, the assigned targets were the result of a laboratory conducted by PDRM in collaboration with relevant ministries, enforcement agencies and NGOs. These targets and their accompanying detailed initiatives were also made available to the public via the GTP Open Days in January 2010.
The NKRA target for crime reduction is 5% and NOT 20%, as wrongly indicated by the writer.
While the target appears challenging, it is certainly not unrealistic - especially when it is a concerted effort - PDRM supported by various agencies, ministries and the community at large. This practice is consistent with the experiences of UK and New Zealand - where a significant reduction of crime was achieved when the nation, regardless of political affiliations or agency structure, is united for the purpose of fighting crime.
“To demonstrate that the GTP, NKRA and KPI are a success, classification of cases was doctored and entered into the system to produce the desired result.”
It was alleged that PDRM had shifted Index Crime cases to Non-Index Crime to mask the increase of overall crime. Should the allegation be true, it follows then that the overall crime (i.e. sum total of Index and Non-Index Crime) should be on a rising trend. However, one only has to examine the fact that overall crime (Index + Non-Index) has in fact reduced in 2010, 2011 and 2012 (year-to-date) to conclude that the allegation is erroneous.
The inaccuracy raises doubt if the writer was indeed a police officer, as he had claimed, if he based his “facts” on such erroneous data.
Notwithstanding, to set the record straight, even by taking Non-Index Crime into account, we have seen a sustained reduction of crime incidents since 2010.
“Another point of contention is crime prevention. Instead of wasting manpower and time on PR exercises, the proven tried and tested methods must be invigorated. The mobile and beat patrols and roadblocks must be strengthened and energised.”
One of the core principles of the Crime NKRA Program is ‘Prioritisation and Focus’.
According to a public survey in 2010, the rakyat desired and demanded for a safer and secure country. PDRM identified, prioritised and focused on two main areas, i.e., snatch theft due to overwhelming public concerns and vehicle thefts due to its high volume contributing up to 50% of overall index crime.
This focused approach has enabled us to achieve the desired results in snatch theft and vehicle theft. However, the trade-off is that we have to acknowledge the potential for increase in other crimes - whether Index Crime (house break-in, murder) or Non-Index Crime (Gambling, Counterfeits, Mischiefs, Syndicated Crime).
This is well acknowledged by PDRM, but the accusation that any decrease in Index Crime or increase in Non-Index crime is an indication of PDRM manipulating their statistics by reclassifying index crime cases to Non-Index to meet their KPIs is baseless and misleading.
“There are many cases under the index crime category that are not opened for investigation and were closed with no further action (NFA). These cases involve robberies, snatch thefts and burglaries.”
We would like to clarify several misrepresentations of existing process steps which are apparent in the article in question. Specifically, to address the following issues
- Reclassification of index crime cases to Non-Index Crimes
- No Further Actions (‘NFA’)
- Short Changing of Crime Cases, e.g. 10 Burglaries equal 1 Case
- Dark Figures, i.e. Crimes Not Reported
Reclassification from Index Crime cases to Non-Index Crime
Reclassification of cases, whether from Index to Non-Index or vice-versa, may happen during the Investigation Phase as a direct result of the outcome from the investigation or during Prosecution Phase due to the strength of the evidence.
During the Investigation Phase, the investigation officer (‘IO’) will interview witnesses and collect evidence to prepare an investigation paper (‘IP’). The IP is then forwarded to the Prosecution (DPPs) who will assess the strength of the evidence and witness statements based on the offence (or sections) charged to ascertain the potential for successful conviction.
In cases where key criteria (or ingredients) of the offence are not fulfilled or if existing evidence is insufficient to constitute the offence initially classified, then the prudent thing to do is to consider if the crime would fall under other category of offence(s) that can be charged based on the existing evidence at hand, or/and outcome of the investigation, to ensure that the process of justice is preserved.
This step within the Criminal Prosecution Process is consistent with international best practices, e.g. in UK and USA, and has nothing to do with the collection of crime statistics. Furthermore, as pointed out in earlier sections, crime statistics are compiled based on reported cases and not based on outcome of investigation or prosecution processes.
“Robbery cases under the Penal Code are classified as index crime. This offence will be classified as non-index under Section 382 of the Penal Code. Since, Section 382 of the Penal Code is a non-index crime, therefore will not be reflected in the crime statistics.”
The article in question further stated that Robbery cases under Section 392 (Robbery) and Section 397 (Gang Robbery) are reclassified to Section 382 (Theft with Preparation to Cause Hurt or Death).
At this point, we must clarify and explain the difference between Robbery and Theft, to ensure that the public has a clear understanding of the two.
Under Malaysia’s Penal Code, Robbery and Theft essentially occur in the same situation. Robbery has an additional element of causing fear of hurt, fear of death, fear of wrongful restraint, or hurt or death. The thin line of difference between Theft (Section 382) and Robbery (Section 392 or Section 397) lies in the time period when the theft is committed.
For Section 382, there must be an element of concealment e.g.weapon in the pocket, hidden accomplices, whereas for Section 392 or 397, the intention to cause fear is expressed and not concealed e.g. tying up the victim, threatening the victim with a weapon.
During the process of report taking, PDRM will classify these cases as Robbery if there is explicit mention of the weapons (e.g. guns, parang, knife) or an explicit mention of fear induced in the victim.
“Burglary under Section 457 of the Penal Code is an index crime. This offence will be classified as non-index under Sections 452 or 453 of the Penal Code. Since, Sections 452 and 453 of the Penal Code are non-index crime therefore will not be reflected in the crime statistics.”
The article in question also stated that Burglary cases under Section 457 (House Break-In to Commit an Offence Punishable with Imprisonment - e.g. Theft) were reclassified to Section 452 and 453 (House Break-In with Preparation made for Causing Hurt).
To recap the situation mentioned earlier, if a house break-in occurred but no goods or belongings were evidently removed by the burglar, e.g. if perpetrator escaped before he or she managed to take any goods, or if the investigation officer does not have enough evidence to prove both house break-in and theft (i.e. specific goods explicitly taken out of possession of the owner) but has enough evidence to prove house break-in - in this scenario, the investigation officer will necessarily charge the offender with a lesser offence such as Section 452 and 453.
“Causing hurt under Sections 324 and 326 are index crimes. These offences will be classified under Section 148 of the Penal Code. Since, Section 148 of the Penal Code is a non-index crime therefore will not be reflected in the crime statistics.”
It was alleged that Causing Hurt cases under Section 324 (Causing Hurt by Dangerous Weapons) and Section 326 (Causing Grievous Hurt by Dangerous Weapons) can and will be reclassified to Section 148 (Possession of Weapons and Missiles at Riot).
We would like to point out that Sections 324 and 326 are VERY different crime types compared to Section 148 – and it is far-fetched to see how the offences in the former can be reclassified to the latter. For example, anyone causing hurt under Section 324 and 326 CANNOT be charged under Section 148 unless this incident occurred during a riot.
Consequently, an attempt by the writer to attribute the increase in Section 148 cases (if any) to the reclassification of Section 324 or 326 cases for the purposes of manipulation of crime statistics are also seriously flawed, both logically and factually. That said, it is also worth pointing out that there is no increase in Section 148 cases as shown in the figure below.
In summary to the above three allegations, both index and non-index crimes ARE reflected in the statistics.
This clearly indicates the writer in question has absolutely no grasp of the sections of the Penal Code as well as the classification of cases. A police officer with considerable experience in criminal investigation will be able to distinguish those cases for classification.
“Police take no further action (NFA) for the reason there is no sufficient ground for proceeding with the matter if the suspect cannot be identified, the loss is minimal or there is no lead to proceed further. There are thousands of cases of this nature and since these cases are not opened for investigation, therefore, will not be reflected in the crime statistics.”
This allegation has been misrepresented by the writer. This again clearly puts his knowledge and intelligence of the crime cases into further question.
At this point, it is necessary to recap the Report Taking process.
When a Complainant (e.g. victim) comes to the Police Station to make a police report, he or she will first file the report with an Enquiry Officer at the station. If the report is classified as a "Jenayah" (or Criminal) case, the Enquiry Officer will subsequently direct the Complainant (i.e. victim) to meet the Investigation Officer.
The Investigation Officer will then conduct an interview with the Complainant to capture the details of the case before proceeding with the investigation process. During the investigation process, the Investigation Officer will keep the Complainant updated with the status and development of the case accordingly. If upon investigation, the Investigation Officer concludes that there are no sufficient grounds for proceeding with the investigation, or if the suspect cannot be identified, or if there are no leads to proceed further, the case will be marked NFA until new leads are found as basis to continue investigation.
This practice is consistent with international policing practices to ensure that Criminal Investigation Department (CID) resources are appropriately prioritised for cases with leads or that can be solved.
However, it is important to note although the case has been marked NFA at the investigation stage, the case will still remain and be accounted for, as part of the Index Crime statistics, whether it falls under Robbery, Burglary, Causing Hurt, or other cases. To set the record straight, Crime Statistics (whether Index or Non-Index) are calculated based on reported cases and not based on the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.
And again, ALL reported crimes ARE reflected in the statistics.
"There are also cases short-changed in order to achieve the KPI. Say, for example, in a particular day there are 10 cases of burglaries reported in a certain housing area. Only one case will be opened for investigation and the other nine cases will be cross-referred to the one case that was opened.”
On the statement of short changing of cases, e.g. 10 burglaries reported in a certain housing area, but only 1 case is investigated and as such, only 1 is reflected in the index crime statistics.
This again, is factually incorrect.
Each and every reported case will have an Investigation Paper opened and will be investigated. In this example, all 10 reported cases of burglaries will be counted as 10 Index Crime cases and 10 Investigation Papers will be opened.
“Dark figures (crimes not reported) are not factored into the crime statistics. There is a theory that for every 10 cases reported there will be one case not reported. People do not report crime when they have lost faith in the police.”
On this note, to date PDRM are tasked to take every report as complained by the public, regardless of how small the case may be deemed. As such, dark figures are not regarded as present.
We would like to take this opportunity again, to stress to the public on the importance of making a police report when a crime incident happens. Failure to lodge police reports may affect crime prevention strategies and in cases where the properties are recovered, may cause unnecessary inconvenience for the victim to claim them.
In this regard, we will need the public support to treat lodging reports as part of their civic duty. An awareness program will be launched soon to educate the public on the their right and responsibility to report a crime and that any police officer who refuses to accept reports will be subject to strict 'Tatatertib' disciplinary actions.
We acknowledge the feedback from the public that PDRM has to improve the police reporting environment to be more conducive and efficient. In the same vein, we would urge the complainants to always check the status of investigation of their cases from the Investigating Officer. Please also ask for explanation under which a case is classified. In this way, we will be able to reduce the perception that a case has been under-classified.
As such we would like to update that PDRM is currently addressing these issues with initiatives designed to improve PDRM’s frontline services as well as ensuring sufficient IOs with a proportionate caseload to enable the IOs to better manage their cases and update the victims in a timely manner.
Moving forward in late 2012, PDRM will launch an online report tracking system, whereby anyone issued with a report number upon lodging a police report, will be able to track and monitor the progress of their case.
This would clearly allay the fears of the public that their report has not been taken seriously or has not been recorded into the crime database. Here, any report reflected online would then be part of the crime statistics.
This online report tracking system was shared with the general public during the GTP Roadmap 2.0 Open Days held in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu in August this year. This move was lauded by all members of the public.
“The rationalisation of the computer system (PRS) to validate the crime figures is a flawed excuse. The system picks up only what has been fed into it. PRS system does not control classification of cases.”
To ensure the transparency and integrity of the classification process, at present, there is a multi layer check-and-balance system in place.
The first level of checking happens at the Officer in Charge of the Station (OCS) level where the OCS will be responsible to ensure proper classification is made towards the reported cases in his station. At the district level, daily meetings will be conducted by the Officer in Charge of District (OCPD) who will scrutinize the reports and classifications made under each of his police stations in the last 24 hours to, again, ensure proper classification.
Next, at the state level, the Officer in Charge of Criminal Investigation (OCCI) will conduct inspection of all investigation papers in the districts under him to ensure the proper classification is made.
In addition, the Chief Police Officer of the respective state will be responsible to monitor all police reports made in his state and check the classifications as required under the IGP Standing Order Chapter A123.
Again, stern disciplinary action will also be taken against personnel who have been found to be intentionally misclassifying cases.
This process is further enhanced through the verification and validation of both an independent audit firm namely PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and 2 rounds of International Performance Review (IPR) – the first made up senior personnel from their respective public service delivery office in the UK, US, Australia, Singapore and South Korea. The second, made up of senior police and security commissioners from the US, UK, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Regular and quarterly public surveys were also conducted by TNS, Institute Integrity Malaysia (IIM) and Frost & Sullivan.
Here PDRM would like to add that crime prevention and PDRM itself has to evolve and move with the times. The public expectations are rising towards police services. They want a more attentive, empathetic and effective force. This is the reason we advocate the Omnipresence initiative, improve frontline services and investigations processes.
At this point, we would like to conclude that clearly based on the numerous flaws in the writer’s article, he/she is not someone from the PDRM force nor has he any credible intelligence of the police operations, methodology, penal code and last but not least of the process of crime investigations.
At best, we acknowledge that the writer has possibly good intentions and have highlighted some personal views, similar to what we have been receiving all this while through our public engagement exercises.
Lastly, we would like to point out that while we appreciate writer’s personal views on the various initiatives currently undertaken by PDRM, namely Omnipresence, Enhancement of Investigation and Criminal Prosecution System, Beat-and-Patrol, PDRM Organisation (including racial composition, religious activities) etc, there are much more conducive platforms to conduct these discussions.
As such, we will not endeavour to belabour on these topics in this letter.
It suffices to point out briefly that Police Omnipresence is an acknowledged, tried and tested international best practice e.g. in London, New York, to fight crime. It was also lauded by many of the resident association within the communities, specifically Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Subang Jaya, Penang etc.
With due respect of the motto ‘Feared by criminals and Respected by the public’, while that describes accurately the environment in pre-2000's, the requirements of Modern Policing across the world has changed, with the police having to play the role of 'Law Enforcer' and that of 'Provider of Community Servicing' in line with a far more personable, improved and attentive approach to meet the rising expectations of the public.
We want to put on record the published article in www.liewchintong.com on Aug 22 is indeed full of factual inaccuracies, misplaced allegations and misleading statements.
PDRM is more than happy to engage the public and to offer any clarification they require at any point.
We do this in hope that the public at large will be better equipped to make an informed conclusion as to the veracity and intention of any misrepresentation of the process PDRM are tasked to uphold for the sake of public safety and national security.
- Definitions of Index and Non-Index Crimes, as well as the Investigation and Prosecution processes have been instituted long before the introduction of the NKRA programme.
- There is no factual basis or evidence to the allegation that crime statistics is manipulated or “doctored”.
- ALL reported crimes, regardless of which penal code sections or category of crimes they come under, will contribute to the crime statistics. And this will be further enhanced by the Online Report Tracking System under Beta testing at the moment and due for launch late 2012.
- The achievements of PDRM and improvements by way of the NKRA are real, as are its initiatives, such as Omnipresence, Safe City Programme, Investigation Enhancement, Front-line Servicing.
- The writer IF indeed a police personnel has not been long in the force, has clearly no understanding on how policing processes and crime investigations are conducted.
- To avoid doubts and misunderstanding due to misrepresentation as demonstrated by the writer, PDRM would like to gracefully extend an invitation to any member of the public an opportunity to come forward and share their concerns with us.
ACP RAMLI MOHAMED YOOSUF is public relations officer, Polis Diraja Malaysia.