28 February 2014

Fundasaun Mahein: Success of Mobile Police Response Stations Vital to Crime Reduction in Dili

ETLJB 28/02/2014 - This week the PNTL released its national crime statistics for the year 2013. The chart reports a total of 3,032 incidents of crime during the past year, encompassing categories ranging from corruption to murder. Crime was clearly concentrated in the nation’s capital, with Dili accounting for 35% of national crime incidents (1,068 recorded events).  Among the more prominent crime categories occurring in Dili were 17 murders (out of 52 nationwide), 420 cases of physical assault (out of 1,275 nationwide), 155 cases of spousal abuse (out of 744 nationwide), and 96 cases of brutal demage (out of 194 nationwide). These inflated figures solidify Dili’s place as the “conflict” of Timor-Leste.

The high Dili crime rates were reported amidst the recent launch of the PNTL’s “mobile response station” initiative. This new policy became functional on the 21st of February, and aims to create an integrated action response to all forms of security or public safety threats including crime, traffic accidents, and community disturbances. As part of the policy, six PNTL cars have been designated to cover various sections of Dili (East, Central, West, etc.). The cars will be manned and on-call 24 hours to provide immediate response to emergency situations. This policy reflects the PNTL’s growing focus on “responsive policing”, the idea being that community members can call their local PNTL center at any time to request immediate assistance.

The need for a PNTL focus on responsive policing is painfully apparent, as was demonstrated in the tragic death of a young man just last week. The young man in question was killed in front of the Foreign affairs building at Beach Road Dili on 23 Feb 2014. Despite the fact that the murder took place in a busy area not far from where numerous PNTL officers are stationed, it took police officers over an hour to arrive at the scene of the crime. This is simply unacceptable, as an hour-long response window makes it almost impossible for police to gather suspects or credible witness.

While the PNTL’s new policy is certainly a step in the right direction, the PNTL has done very little, if anything, to inform the public of this new service being offered to them. The launch of the program was not publicized in any national media sources, including television or radio. How can mobile response stations be utilized successfully if the majority of the public remains unaware of their existence?

FM is confident that mobile response stations can serve as an integral component of crime reduction efforts in Dili. If implemented correctly, they will offer a vital responsive policing mechanism that will empower Timorese citizens and deter criminal offenders.  The PNTL must now do more to publicize its new service so that the public is aware of the mobile response stations and how to use them. It is also essential that the PNTL work diligently to ensure that the quality of the program and the response times of stations will improve consistently. Source: http://www.fundasaunmahein.org/2014/02/27/success-of-mobile-response-stations-vital-to-crime-reduction-in-dili/

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