SINCE the beginning of this year, we have been hearing news of spike in street crimes across Karachi. These crimes include mobile phone and vehicle snatching, house robbery, drug trade, and killing over resistance during a robbery or snatching bid.

To prevent such crimes, the old style of policing is not enough. In the traditional policing role, the force adheres to a zero-tolerance policy towards crime through extreme measures and on the basis of intelligence gathered through informers, who are mostly petty or ‘retired’ criminals, to reduce the crime rate.

Usually, such an approach entails compromise on human rights, and certain crimes for the sake of getting information on the more serious crimes. Therefore, the police force must now opt for modern methods to reduce crimes and bring them down to a tolerable level.

First, police in Karachi should utilise information technology (IT) to curb crimes in the city. Luckily, the Sindh government has recently started the ‘safe city project’, which is the need of the hour in terms of increased surveillance.

The government must make sure that the installed CCTV cameras are of good quality rather than going for the inexpensive ones to save money. The quality should be good enough to ensure the visibility of the faces of the culprits and the number plates of their vehicles. This will help not only in catching the criminals, but also in investigation and prosecution.

Besides, there should be increased community policing in Karachi. This is one aspect of crime prevention that has been generally ignored in society barring a few exceptions. The local police authorities should delegate some responsibility to the local communities to eliminate crime in their respective vicinities. This will give a sense of responsibility to the citizens as well.

In this regard, there is a recent success story in Karachi’s Gharibabad area where the locals, with very little help from police, completely eradicated the menace of drugs in the area by pushing out peddlers and addicts from their neighbourhood. However, to avoid incidents of mob justice and lynching, the police must create a standard operating procedure (SOP) for such practices.

Lastly, the police department should start using historical data to understand current and future trends in the crime world. With the help of crime statistics, analysts calculate the probability of future crimes and their hotspots, and provide the police with research-based strategies and measures to counter crime, and reduce the crime rate in a particular area. For example, areas with a higher risk of street crime get more attention in terms of police patrolling, surveillance and allocation of financial and human resources.

These methods will bring a positive change in reducing the crime rate in Karachi. However, for a long-term and permanent solution, the federal and provincial governments should step up to bring socio-economic reforms to reduce poverty, illiteracy, inequality, unemployment, and, most importantly, inflation, as these are the major reasons behind most of the criminal activity in the country, specifically in Karachi.

Abbass Raza
Karachi

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2022

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