Public Confidence in Police Competency to Combat Crime

By Nair, Gopala Krishnan Sekharan; Luqman, Azyanee et al. | Asian Social Science, April 2013 | Go to article overview

Public Confidence in Police Competency to Combat Crime


Nair, Gopala Krishnan Sekharan, Luqman, Azyanee, Vadeveloo, Thenmolli, Shanmuggam, Saravanan, Iskandar, Hanith, Asian Social Science


Abstract

In recent times, the Malaysian public has expressed fears of increasing crime rate. However, the authorities have tried to dispel public fears by stating that crime rate has actually taken a dip and public worry is more a matter of perception rather than a fear caused by a real and genuine basis. The police point out that there will be a time gap between reduction of crime rate and a raise in public confidence as public confidence does not go up immediately when there has been an improvement in the crime situation. This paper investigated the level of fear of the public pertaining to being a victim of crime. Additionally, this paper investigated the factors that influenced the public opinion of the police such as police effectiveness in combating crime, corruption, brutality and personal links between police and the public. It is essential that the public should have a positive perception of the police force so that the force may be able to count on public cooperation in their efforts to combat crime and maintain public order. A sample size of 407 was taken for this study. The sample was stratified according to age groups and the level of education. It was found that most of the educated members from urban areas were not happy with the police as they felt that the police could be more effective in combating crime. This group also registered a higher fear level of being a crime victim. Fear of becoming a crime victim amongst the respondents. The respondents also felt that the recently repealed Emergency Ordinance (EO) which enables detention without trial should be reinstated. The public also felt that the police need more formidable intelligence gathering and the courts should mete out heavier punishment.

Keywords: crime, public cooperation, police force, public opinion, police performance

1. Introduction

Of late, the public has been rather critical of the police force. The public perceive the police as being corrupt, abusing their power and ineffective in carrying out policing work. Recently, an online newspaper reported some allegations from purportedly a retired policeman who claimed that the police have been manipulative with crime statistics in order to portray a more rosy picture of the state of crime and civil order in the country (Malaysiakini, 23rd August 2012).

Navaratnam (The Star, 4th September 2012) called for a revision in the system of crime data classification. He called upon the Inspector General of Police to give an assurance that lower level police officers classify crime data properly and reliably. Navaratnam expressed fears some police officers and police stations who may have come under severe pressure to meet the stipulations of the National Key Result Area (NKRA), could have succumbed to a manipulative manner of crime classification. According to the allegations made by the alleged retired policeman in Malaysiakini, some police officers may have resorted to labeling serious crimes as a non-indexed crime so that there are a smaller number of serious crimes which come under the category of indexed crimes and which are reflected in the statistics.

ACP Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf (The Star, 6th September 2012) of the Police Headquarters at Bukit Aman in the Federal Capital, reiterated that the practice of collecting and classifying crime statistics has been adopted from the UCR (Uniform Crime Reports) of the United States and is an international standard adopted by other countries. The Inspector General of Police, Ismail Omar (Malaysiakini, 29th August 2012), stressed that the crime statistics are a true reflection of the state of crime and "It is a big sin to manipulate crime figures." He further added that when the report is typed into the computer, the data is automatically recorded and therefore no cops at any station have the facility to meddle with the figures.

Whatever may be the truth behind the retired policeman's allegations, there is no denying that such allegations whether with proper basis or otherwise has the potential to erode the public's trust and perception of the police force. …

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