Combating crime: Media jolted police into action July 23, 2012, 10:02 pm
– Defence Secy.
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday acknowledged that print and electronic media coverage of a particular crime could galvanise those in authority to take prompt action.
The Defence Secretary said that a ‘media blitz’ could attract the attention of the government and security authorities thereby making a positive contribution to the on-going efforts aimed to curb crime.
He was addressing a gathering at the Government Information Department.
Referring to the recent double murder at Katuwana, Rajapaksa pointed out that media had lashed out at the police for their failure to execute several arrest warrants for the chief suspect. The media had articulated the position that there wouldn’t have been any trouble if the police had executed those arrest warrants, said the Defence Secretary. "Heavy media criticism prompted the police to execute arrest warrants. Now the police are hunting for wanted men,"
He appreciated the role played by the media in compelling law enforcement authorities to take tangible action. The critical media coverage had helped the government realise the situation and take necessary action, he said.
Since June 20 up to July 20, the police have executed 21,798 warrants. Police headquarters placed the number of arrests at 17,595. Some of those arrested had several arrest warrants each on them.
Defence Secretary Rajapaksa dismissed the perception that unnecessary media focus on crime could encourage more unlawful activity. Acknowledging that he wasn’t an expert on media, the official said that he didn’t subscribe to the view that there would be a decrease in crime if the media refrained from giving unnecessary coverage to various incidents.
"As the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, I always look at things from the perspective of the police and the armed forces. I welcome positive coverage on the armed forces and the police," the Defence Secretary said, noting that since the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, the government had taken action to improve the law and order situation in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
"We have disarmed all armed groups in the two provinces," he said,explaining measures taken by law enforcement agencies in the Northern and Eastern Provinces as well as other areas to tackle crime. He made special mention of the on-going efforts to prevent forcible take-over of property in Colombo, its suburbs and the provinces.
The Defence Secretary said that government efforts to curb crime, too, had come under fire from interested parties.
The Defence Secretary countered allegations that since the conclusion of the conflict in May, 2009, the law and order situation had deteriorated to such an extent that people were scared to walk on street today. He alleged that some interested parties were working overtime to create that impression. Such action would impede efforts to attract foreign investment and develop tourism, he said.
The Defence Secretary said that today people had conveniently forgotten the reign of LTTE terror. "There was a time when parents didn’t use public transport together as they feared LTTE bomb attacks. Today LTTE terror is a thing of the part."
Citing police headquarters records pertaining to over two dozen categories of crime and incidents with effect from 1990, the Defence Secretary said that the police had logged the largest number of cases in 2006 (60,161).
The police recorded 54,521 cases last year and 30,228 so far this year, he said, adding that if the same trend prevailed for rest of the year, there could be as many as 55,000 cases by end of this year.
The Defence Secretary said that since the eradication of the LTTE, the police headquarters had received data pertaining to crime in areas once under LTTE control. The official said that a study was necessary to examine the post and pre-LTTE situations.
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