Monday, February 15, 2016

Experts warn of rise in crime as economy slumps

The economic slump this year could lead to an increase in crime, experts have warned, as lay-off and high inflation force people to resort to illegitimate means to earn a buck. A 10-year study of crime cases by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) shows a spike in felonies during 2008 to 2009, when Malaysia was affected by the global financial crisis. This year, low oil prices and the ringgit's plunge in value compared to the US dollar are breeding the conditions which lead to retrenchment and high prices. These conditions, said Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, could force unscrupulous individuals to do whatever it takes, including breaking the law. "A sluggish economy will have a huge impact on society and there is a big possibility that the crime rate will go up," Lee told The Malaysian Insider. USM crime analyst and psychologist Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat had co-authored the study together with Amin Bujang and Mohammad Rahim Kamaluddin, which looked at crime cases between 2004 and 2014. It found that there were 20,000 more crime cases between 2008 and 2009 compared to the other years, she said, adding that during those two years, the unemployment rate had gone up to 3.7%. "A tough economic climate will affect the government's and consumers' ability to spend. Shrinking resources, a reduction in the quality of public services will also affect overall quality of life," she said. Lee and Geshina said that given this possible rise in crime, the government could not afford to cut funds to programmes and policies on public safety and policing. "Although the government has announced a revised 2016 budget, it is important that programmes related to security remain a top priority," Lee said. Geshina argued that budget allocations for the security services should not be touched as the training and personnel needed for effective enforcement needed fiscal support. Yet the responsibility for public safety should not rest squarely on the shoulders of the police either, and people must cooperate and take their own security seriously, she said. "Don't think just because your neighbour is a policeman you can place the burden of your security and that of your family's squarely on his shoulders. "Many crimes such as snatch thefts happen because of negligence. People must be trained to protect themselves," she said. Another study, by independent consultants Frost and Sullivan in 2013, showed that over 50% of Malaysians already believed that crime was on the rise, while 40% thought that crime rates had stayed the same. These sentiments were expressed even as the police stepped up crime prevention programmes, the study said. Frost and Sullivan had been hired by Putrajaya to study the quality of service of law enforcement agencies in 2013. – February 16, 2016.]]>

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