“Laws are generally made to help the citizen of a nation to mend their ways against wrong doing. However, only enacting laws are not good enough. Discuss the way in which the citizens of a nation can be made to avoid criminal activities.” Discuss.
Crime prevention is any initiative which reduces or eliminates the aggregate level of victimization or the risk of individual criminal participation. It includes government and community based programs to reduce crime related incidents and the rate of victimization. This paper addresses that question in the context of Bangladesh and a systematic approach to implement crime prevention programmes throughout the country. To be successful, the responsibilities lie with many stakeholders such as, Government, Non Government Organisations (NGO’s) and the local community.
Crime prevention policies are no longer limited to reducing rates of crime, but also aim to improve the quality of community life and our ability to live together. Approaches to crime prevention have developed over time and are reflected in different United Nations resolutions and in practices and policies implemented around the world. The emphasis is not only on how crime can be reduced but also on how this can be used to maintain and reinforce social cohesion of communities themselves to collectively act and to improve their quality of life. The most recent UN guidelines, the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Crime 2002, outline four types of approach to crime prevention:
- Crime prevention through social development
- Locally-based Crime Prevention, or Community Prevention
- Situational Crime Prevention
- Reduction of recidivism
These approaches and their implementation, both at the policy level and on the ground, have progressively integrated the notion of community safety, or the safety of communities. Community safety is a concept which focuses on the individual as well as the broader community. Individual here refers to physical and emotional well-being and broader refers to economic, environmental and social well-being. The main gist of community safety deals with the quality of life that incorporates issues like crime prevention, road safety, public health system, emergency management and the environment.
Currently, Ministry of Home Affairs and Bangladesh Police are taking the lead role in establishing a crime prevention and community safety programme through its efforts to implement the Community Policing Strategy (CPS) throughout the country. In Bangladesh, there are four main drivers which underpin the desire to enhance the safety and well being of the local population. These are:
- The Constitution of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh
- The Universal Charter of Human Rights
- The Ministry of Home Affairs Vision and Mission Statements
- The Bangladesh Police Vision and Mission Statements
Since 2003, a number of NGO agencies have undertaken research and conducted community consultations culminating with various pilot programmes and training courses. Many of these focus around the Bangladesh Police. They have a vital role to play in maintaining internal law and order and establishing the rule of law in the country due to the ever-increasing sophisticated crimes, arresting the spread of drugs and narcotics, punishing heinous crimes like murder, rape, mugging, hijacking, abduction, smuggling, acid-throwing, and violence on women and children.
CRIME SITUATION IN BANGLADESH
Bangladesh has seen an increase in criminal activities in recent years. Crime grew at an average rate of 9.8% between the years 1993 and 1996 against the average growth in population of about 2% per annum. However, it is obvious that these figures understate the real crime rate, as not all crimes are reported or recorded. Major crime related activities includes,
1. Theft, burglary, robbery, mugging
2. Dowry-related crime, sexual violence and harassment and domestic violence.
3. Disputes over properties land-grabbing and land lessness, evictions.
4. Drug abuse.
In Bangladesh, police are considered to be the most corrupt public agency, followed by health and land administration. Public corruption is an acknowledged problem in Bangladesh. According to the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index in 2003, Bangladesh scored 2.1 and was ranked 147th in terms of the level of perceived corruption (TI 2008). In February 2004, the government passed legislation to create an Anti-Corruption Commission. Bangladesh has an estimated population of 156, 050, 883 (July 2009) inhabitants, rated the 7th most populous country on earth. Bangladesh is equipped with numerous social problems and poverty is a serious problem which relates directly to the overall crime situation. Policing in Bangladesh is made even more difficult through the high police population ratio of 1:1138. Therefore, it is a necessity to invest in crime prevention strategies. Expectations are high from Bangladesh Police to curb the increasing crime rate. The common incidents of police corruption includes,
- Taking bribe for registering or declining to register an FIR
- Falsely implicating innocent persons in an FIR
- Letting the accused free
- Conducting baseless investigations
- Dealing in contraband, narcotics, illegal arms, and prostitution
Corruption feeds on several interrelated factors which are given below,
- Wide discretionary powers
- Low wages
- Outdated or Ineffective performance appraisal systems
- Poor working conditions
- Ineffective internal accountability
- Weak external accountability mechanisms i.e. through judiciary, media, and Parliament)
The constitution of Bangladesh provides citizens to enjoy the protection of the law and to be treated in accordance with law. The constitution also allows every person accused of a criminal offence will have the right to a speedy and public trial by an independent and impartial court or tribunal established by law. Key laws pertaining to human security are as follows:
- The Penal Code 1860
- The Evidence Act 1872
- The Code of Criminal Procedure 1898
- The Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929
- The Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961
- The Children Act 1974
- The Dowry Prohibition Act 1980
- The Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Act 2000
- The Public Safety (Special Provisions) Act 2000
- Law and Order Disruption Crimes Act 2002
The Special Powers Act of 1974 authorizes the Government to detain any person in order to prevent them from committing certain prejudicial acts. This is the only article of law that allows the Government to preventively detain anyone. The frequent use of the Special Powers Act has been used as an example of deficiencies in the criminal justice system to deal with alleged criminals.
CRIME CONTROL INSTITUTIONS
The administration of justice is the responsibility of the judiciary, which comprises the Supreme Court, the Appellate Divisions and the High Court at the higher level, followed by a hierarchy of civil and criminal courts at the district level; and finally, village courts in rural areas and conciliatory courts in municipal areas. An Inspector General of Police, under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, heads the Police department. The Bangladesh Police is a national force. In case of violations, the offence is reported to the officer-in-charge of the police station in the form of a first information report (FIR). Police strategies for keeping pace with the developments in crime have generally taken the form of increasing the police manpower. Police stations are the basic units of the police service delivery mechanisms. The Bangladesh Police is mainly governed by the Police Act (1861), the Code of Criminal Procedure (1898), the Police Regulation, Bengal (1943), the Armed Police Battalions Ordinance (1979), and Metropolitan Police Act.
FACTORS DRIVING CRIME AND VICTIMIZATION
Crime prevention can be described as strategies and measures that seek to reduce the risk of crimes occurring, and their potential harmful effects on individuals and society, including fear of crime, by intervening to influence their multiple causes. Crime prevention has become an increasingly important component of many national strategies on public safety and security. The concept of prevention is grounded in the notion that crime and victimization are driven by many underlying factors. They are,
- Inadequate infrastructure and fiscal and administrative powers
- Poor housing and neighbourhood conditions
- Lack of facilities such as good education and health services
- High unemployment
- Easy access to drugs or small arms
Risk factors also include biological and personal factors that may lead to early aggressive behaviour or serious substance abuse. Risk factors connected with relationships include family characteristics such as harsh or erratic parenting, family conflict and violence, family circumstances like poverty and isolation.
TYPES OF CRIME PREVENTION
The major fields of crime prevention include developmental, environmental, situational, social and community-based crime prevention. The prevention approaches and programmes can be classified into four categories,
1. Crime prevention through Social Development: It includes a range of social, educational, health and training programmes. It involves measures such as parenting programmes, school enrichment and youth prevention projects, mentoring and helping young people into training and work. These programmes help to develop resilience and social skills among children and their families.
2. Community-based Crime Prevention: This programme is targeted in areas with high levels of deprivation in terms of infrastructure, services, wealth, or lack of community cohesion. This usually includes slums, informal settlements and housing projects with a concentration of economic and social problems. Community crime prevention involves active participation of local residents and organizations in those communities.
3. Situational Crime Prevention: It covers approaches that aim to reduce the opportunities for people to commit crimes, to increase the risks and costs of being caught and to minimize the benefits. Strategies include physical security, access control, design improvements, surveillance and police patrols.
4. Reintegration Programmes: Crime prevention through reintegration refers to programmes that work with young people and adults involved in the criminal justice system. Those convicted of offences run the greatest risk of re-offending due to few opportunities to pursue non-criminal lifestyles. Providing them with life and job skills, training, education, alternative lifestyles, support and housing in the community are all ways to assist with their reintegration.
Crime leads to deprivation of the rights and dignity of citizens and poses a threat to the democratic process. Crime casts fear into the hearts from all walks of life and as a result prevents development and growth of a country. Increased crime prevents from engaging in economic activity and loss of several opportunities offered by the country. The rights and freedoms of the constitution are threatened every time a citizen becomes a victim of crime. The Government must regard the prevention of crime as a national priority. Government must ensure that effective planning and sustainable success in reducing crime is a long term process. The demand for police services has increased due to continuous increase in crime rates. Society’s expectations from the police are high but they have failed to deliver due to numerous reasons. They are,
- Lack of appropriate resources
- Inadequate and outdated forensic facilities
- Failure to control the law and order situation
- Culture of political patronage
- Lack of public cooperation
It is extremely important for the government to address these issues. In addition, the government should embark on a continuous improvement strategy for law enforcement agencies. The following key recommendations are being made,
- Increase the number of police, especially women
- Minimize political use of police
- Amend obsolete laws
- Curb corruption, increase transparency and accountability
- Increase community involvement to step up crime prevention
- Improve human resources management and development
- Improve investigative and operational capability
- Develop infrastructure, embrace latest technology
To effectively reduce crime, it is necessary to transform and reorganize government and facilitate real community participation. Community Policing is one way to achieve this. The main objectives of community policing are to,
- Minimize the gap between the citizens and the police
- Raise public awareness
- Prevent people away from committing crime
- Build trust between the locals and the police.
- Rehabilitate criminals
- Strengthen the rule of law and establish good governance.
Police today need instant access to criminal data and the government should initiate a powerful drive to harness the potential of technology to their benefit. The development of the Internet has played a key supporting role in this. The government should focus on creating mobile and fixed network databases for various criminal activities like homicide, mugging, motor theft, sexual exploitation, child abuse, Missing/Stolen Travel Documents, Internationally wanted person. This technology allows law enforcement officers to connect to the databases from their office or from the field, giving them instant access to real-time criminal information. Recognizing the increased value of forensics in providing evidence and matching previously unconnected crime scenes or criminals, the government should create new database of DNA profiles to support fingerprints database. The government should also install CCTV camera in cities to curb crime. The government needs to implement policies in collaboration with telecom operators to track down and reduce mobile theft. Information Technology can play a vital role and the most effective weapon for Law Enforcement Agencies to control crimes.
The future holds its own new challenges. The security landscape has been changing at unprecedented speed, with threats constantly multiplying in complexity, scope and reach. The discipline of crime prevention and community safety is very broad and responsibility rests with a large range of stakeholders. The Government should ensure a permanent place for crime prevention in their structures and programmes. The role of the Government is to provide leadership, coordination, and adequate funding and resources. The recommendations include,
- Formation of a permanent central authority
- Establishment of crime prevention plan with clear priorities and targets
- Coordination and partnerships between government agencies and civil society
- Creating awareness through public education and work with the media
- Sustainability and accountability of programmes
- Training and capacity-building for government and law enforcement agencies
Approaches to prevention range from tackling the social and economic roots of crime and violence to strengthening the capacities of local communities to modifying environments in order to deter offenders or promote an increased sense of safety. There is no one approach that is optimal, but a careful strategy will balance and utilize a range of approaches which can respond to specific problems of crime and victimization in both the short and longer term. Such a strategy will respond to the needs of all sectors of society, in a way that does not increase the social or economic exclusion of particular groups and will promote respect for the rule of law.
§ Sagant, V. & Shaw, M. (2010). ‘International Report on Crime Prevention and Community Safety: Trends and Perspectives, 2010’, International Centre for the Prevention of Crime. Available online: http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org/uploads/media/International_Report_2010.pdf
§ Capobianco, L. (2007). ‘Key Developments, Issues, and Practices: The Role of the Police in Crime Prevention’, International Centre for the Prevention of Crime, Background Paper ICPC’s 7th Annual Colloquium Oslo, Norway. Available online: http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org/uploads/media/pub_189_1.pdf
§ United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC (2010). ‘Children, Youth and Crime’, Twelfth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Working paper prepared by the Secretariat United Nation, Brazil. Document available online: http://www.unodc.org/documents/crime-congress/12th-Crime-Congress/Documents/A_CONF.213_4/V1051035e.pdf
§ Miles, R. & Sengupta, P. (2006). ‘Building Gender-Responsive Community-Based Policing in Bangladesh’, Working Paper, German Technical Cooperation GTZ. Available online: http://www.gtz.de/en/dokumente/Working-Paper-Gender-Responsive-Community-Bangladesh.pdf
§ Shaw, M. & Travers, K. (2005). ‘Strategies and Best Practices in Crime Prevention in particular in relation to Urban Areas and Youth at Risk’, Proceedings of the Workshop held at the 11th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, International Centre for the Prevention of Crime. Available online: http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org/uploads/media/pub_195_1.pdf
§ United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime UNODC (2009). ‘Handbook on Crime Prevention Guidelines Making Them Work’, United Nations Publication, New York. Document available online: http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org/uploads/media/Handbook_on_the_crime_prevention_guidelines_01.pdf
§ United Nations (2009). ‘Crime Prevention Assessment Tool – Criminal Justice Assessment Toolkit’, United Nations Publication, New York. Available online: http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org/uploads/media/Crime_prevention_assessme nt_tool_03.pdf
§ Government of Bangladesh and United Nations Development Programme UNDP Case Study (2005), ‘Strengthening Bangladesh Police Project (SBPP), A Joint Initiative Programme, Document available online: http://regionalcentrebangkok.undp.or.th/practices/governance/workshop/Bangladeshcase.ppt
§ Huda, M. N. (2010). ‘Citizen’s concern on police role and reform’, The Daily Star News Release, September 25 2010. Published online: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=155809
§ The J. McDonald Williams Institute (2007). ‘Crime Prevention: A Best Practices Approach’, Working Paper Series, No 2, Available online: http://www.dallasindicators.org/Portals/8/Reports/Reports_Internal/Crime.BP.WP.final.pdf
 A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government.
 Group of Experts on Crime Prevention at their meeting held in Vancouver, Canada, from 21 to 24 January 2002, and the work of the Secretary -General in preparing a report on the results of that interregional meeting, containing revised draft guidelines for crime prevention and proposed priority areas for international action.
 Ministry of Home Affairs of Bangladesh is responsible for policing, national security, and immigration matters. The ministry was first set up in 1971 with the formation of the government-in-exile during the Bangladesh war of liberation.
 The Constitution of Bangladesh is the supreme law of Bangladesh. It declares Bangladesh as a secular democratic republic where sovereignty belongs the people and lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles of the state and spells out the fundamental rights of citizens. Passed by the Constituent Assembly of Bangladesh on November 4, 1972, it came into effect from December 16, 1972
 On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Available online: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
 Available online: http://www.mha.gov.bd/pdf/mission_and_vision.pdf
 Available online: http://www.police.gov.bd/index5.php?category=2
 Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption. It is a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. It publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index, a comparative listing of corruption worldwide.
 Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bg.html
 Retrieved from: http://www.police.gov.bd/index5.php?category=152
 The Penal Code of 1860 is the main substantive law in criminal matters and includes categories of punishable offences. Available online: http://bdlaws.minlaw.gov.bd/print_sections_all.php?id=11
 It came into force on 01 Sep 1872. Nothing herein contained shall affect the provisions of any Statute, Act or Regulation not hereby expressly repealed, nor any usage or custom of trade, nor any incident of any contract, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act.
 This Act came into force on the first day of July, 1898. In the absence of any specific provision to the contrary, nothing herein contained shall affect any special law now in force, or any special jurisdiction or power conferred, or any special form of procedure prescribed, by any other law for the time being in force.
 An Act to restrain the solemnization of child marriages.
 Personal laws relating to Muslim inheritance, marriage registration, polygamy, divorce, dowry and maintenance of the wives and children.
 It is the substantive law for juvenile offenders and their treatment. The law was made to consolidate and amend the laws relating to the custody, protection and treatment of children and trial and punishment of youthful offenders.
 Its amendment in 1986 make dowry practices an offence punishable by fine and imprisonment.
 It provides for effective and efficient way of dealing with cases of violence against women such as rape, acid attacks, forced prostitution and trafficking.
 It was passed on 15 February 2000 in order to deal with crimes of extortion, kidnapping, snatching, collection of ransom, damaging public property, obstruction of traffic movement and damaging vehicles, manipulating tenders and other such offences.
 It was passed on 9 April 2002. This Act introduces provisions for the speedy trial of certain offences under a special court, in periods of 30 to 60 days and the punishment envisaged is rigorous imprisonment from two to five years.
 The Special Powers Act 1974 was promulgated on 9 February 1974 providing special measures for prevention of certain prejudicial activities and for conducting more speedy trial and effective punishment for certain grave offences.
 This Act describes the constitution of the police force; superintendence of the force; appointment, dismissal, and other conditions of service of inferior officers; power of inspector-general to make rules; special police and their powers; and duties of police officers.
 This basic criminal law contains provisions on the constitution of criminal courts and offences; power of courts; aid and information to the magistrates, police, and persons making arrests; arrest, escape, and retaking; prevention of offenses such as security for keeping the peace and for good behavior, unlawful assemblies, public nuisances, temporary orders in urgent cases of nuisance, and preventive action of the police; information to the police and their powers to investigate; and proceedings and prosecutions.
 It is regarded as the bible of all levels of police staff, with 1,290 regulations. It incorporated changes in the rules necessitated by the Government of India Act, 1935 and describes the police organization; relations with other departments; direction and control mechanisms of the police; privileges and general instructions; duties of all ranks of police officers; detailed description of police stations, court police, railway police, criminal investigation department, and special armed force; appointment, recruitment, and promotions; compensation and allowances; training and examination; uniform and clothing; punishment and appeals; and housing facilities.
 In accordance with the provisions of this Ordinance, a force called Armed Police Battalions was formed to perform internal security duties; recover unauthorized arms, ammunitions, and explosives; apprehend armed gangs of criminals; and assist other law enforcing agencies.
 There are four acts for administering the Metropolitan Police of Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, and Rajshahi. These acts were formulated in 1976, 1978, 1984, and 1992, respectively. All the acts describe the organizational structure, responsibilities, rank structures, appointment, transfer, power to formulate regulations, administration of the force, power and duties of the officers, and action taken for security and maintaining law and order in the respective metropolitan cities.
 Community policing is a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.
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