The Malta Independent 23 September 2023, Saturday
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Reported domestic violence cases on the increase, bodily harm on the decline - CrimeMalta Review

Mathias Mallia Saturday, 16 April 2016, 17:58 Last update: about 8 years ago

The number of cases of domestic violence has gone up by 7% conforming to the year-on-year increase which has been shown in recent years, while bodily harm, both slight and grievous, has once again registered a decrease as it has been doing annually since 2009. These statistics came out in this year's CrimeMalta Annual Crime Review for 2015.

There was an absolute increase of 490 crimes, which does not necessarily reflect an increase in actual crime, but more a case of a higher incidence of people reporting the crimes. The total amount of reported offences for 2015 was 17,138.

While common theft has increased by 16%, a number of other forms of theft including theft from residences has decreased sufficiently, with the latter offence actually dropping by 24%. The reason for the spike in common theft is that, in 2015, there was a seemingly organized foreign pickpocketing ring operating on the island which were responsible for 492 offences. However police captured the people responsible, and the numbers have since gone back down.

One has to keep in mind that in a village like Mdina, who is ranked as the second highest at risk locality, only has 100 inhabitants, therefore the slightest increase will send the percentages spiking.

Statistics show that sexual offences and computer related crime increased since the previous year by 22% and 27% respectively; while, on the other hand, drugs and prostitution have decreased  significantly by 21% and 41%.

Professor Saviour Formosa, who has been publishing crime statistics since 2008, said of computer related crimes that the increase is to be expected and will continue to rise in the coming years since, with new technology being what it is and advances being so regular, there is obviously a much larger avenue for crime.

The criminologist also spoke about the website which shows an easy to use and fully interactive platform for the public to know exactly which localities are more prone to which kinds of crime. With different indicators such as cluster maps and heat maps, one can choose either a general offence or specific offences and compare and contrast incidences in localities.

Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Dr Carmelo Abela said that it is a courageous step from the side of the Ministry and local law enforcement to share these statistics so openly with the press and the public. That being said, Dr Abela spoke about how vital it is that this information is readily available both to private citizens, as well as pubic officials. This will lead to a more 'intelligence led policing' approach where a number of officers will be sent to target areas which are spiking in order to better control them.

While the police obviously have a main role in fighting crime, they cannot do it on their own. Dr Abela continued to say that the role of the police is becoming infinitely more social. This last point was further insisted upon by the Assistant Commisioner, Neville Aquilina, who said that police on patrol are now working on taking a more proactive approach rather than the usual reactive policing.

In answer to a question posed by The Malta Independent regarding a negative public opinion affecting the number of reports, the Minister said that, although he is aware that there is obviously room for improvement, the public needs to remember that the force is always looking for more recruits.

There needs to be better communication between the public and the police force. The Assistant Commissioner also added that there have been many cases of people who would much rather personally approach an officer in the street to report a crime than to walk into a police station to do so.


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