By Tabora Bojang
Updating lawmakers on the state of crime in the country, Interior Minister Seyaka Sonko has said contrary to other unverified statistics, crime in the country has in fact decreased by 15 percent. Responding to Busumbala NAM Muhammed Kanteh, himself a former police officer, who wanted an update on the crime rate from 2021 to date and efforts taken by the government to combat it, Minister Sonko replied that there has been a “slight decrease of about 15 percent in the number of cases reported in the first and second quarter of 2021- 2022”, as per their quarterly crime report.
“The police are doing their utmost best to combat crime despite resource constraints. They have intensified patrols in all six regions aptly demonstrated by the revival of Operation Zero Crime in order to tackle the surge in break-ins and robberies in the WCR. The said operation was successful as a result of robust patrols conducted in the region and this could be attested to by non-receipt of reports on crime during the course of the operation, particularly break-in or robbery,”’ the minister said.
He added that police have begun establishing PIU bases in certain strategic areas across the country all geared towards combating crimes.
The minister’s comments stunned several lawmakers, who reminded him about the worrying insecurity in many parts of the country with the police themselves confirming 5 domestic homicides in September alone.
One of the NAMs, Bakary Badjie asked the minister whether he could claim that crime rate has decreased even in the light of the recent authentic reports of many murder cases in the country. “Do you refer to that as a decrease or an increase?”, Hon. Badjie asked.
To this, the minister charged: “We can give you statistics about the rate of crimes that have occurred in this country from 2016 to date. These are real figures that are not cooked up or coming out of our heads unlike those coming on the internet. We can share this report with the National Assembly if requested. Yes, in a short space of time, we have had series of murder cases and almost all of them have been investigated because part of the police job is to prevent crime and where they fail to prevent crime, they investigate. We even have cases where people are reporting crimes which are not happening.”
Busumbala NAM Muhammed Kanteh also countered the minister, reminding him that there have been several unsolved cases such as the Marie Mendy case, the young student found mutilated alongside one Zilson Gomez, who was also found hanging in a well. According to Kanteh, the police are yet to update the Gomez family about the state of their investigations, leaving them in uncertainties.
The minister replied that although he was aware of the case, he needs a follow-up with the police and report back to the Assembly.
“Police investigations in this country sometimes can be problematic because sometimes when an incident happens, even before the police arrive, people would rush taking photographs and so on and thereby tampering with the scene and probably leave traces of themselves and that really affects cases because interfering with crime scenes makes it difficult for police investigations. We have trained police officers who can investigate crime scenes and produce articles of the evidence which can be used for proper detections or prosecutions,” the minister noted.
The minister informed NAMs that the police are also constrained by lack of resources which makes it difficult for them to access every area.
“The National Assembly is responsible for allocating funds to us, so let me say this when it comes to logistics, there are no vehicles. We don’t have vehicles to cover all the areas. This is why we appeal to the general public to chip in and support the police because the government cannot do it all alone,” Seyaka Sonko said.