Turkey sees record drop in crime rate, police report shows

May 03, 2011, Tuesday/ 17:59:00/ ERCAN YAVUZ

Turkey’s crime rate registered a major drop in 2010 when compared to the figures in 2006, according to data from the National Police Department.

Although a rise in crime rates was feared in line with population growth rate figures in the country, the National Police Department’s report has shown that there was actually a significant fall in the crime rate, particularly in purse snatching cases, which had reached alarming levels.

While there were 12,154 purse snatching cases in 2006, this figure receded to be as low as 2,491 in 2010, marking an 80 percent decline. There was a 41 percent decline in the number of purse snatching cases between 2007 and 2008. Sixty-nine people lost their lives in cases of purse snatching, which took place between 2004 and 2007.

A sharp decline also was seen in the cases of auto theft. While there were 31,522 cases of auto theft in 2006, this figure fell to 12,346 in 2010, marking a 61 percent drop.

It other types of crime there were similar declines in 2010 when compared to the figures of 2006. The decrease in mugging cases was 37 percent, 39 percent for homicides, 43 percent for manslaughter or bodily harm caused by celebratory gunfire, 26 percent for workplace theft, 0.7 percent for burglary, 5 percent for pick pocketing and 8 percent for cases of bribery.

Despite a record fall in a variety of crimes across the country, there have been increases in three types of crimes which are assault, sexual abuse and violation of intellectual and commercial rights between 2009 and 2010.

In 2009, 3,865 individuals were captured in connection with selling pirated books and CDs, amounting to around 4.6 million pirated items, while the number of individuals who were involved in selling pirated material rose to 3,865 in 2010. The number of pirated materials seized in 2010 rose to 22.5 million.

An increase was also observed in the number of terrorist attacks against security personnel. While 6,831 individuals were arrested by police in connection to terror attacks in 2009, this figure rose to 7,047 in 2010. In police operations against terrorist organizations, police seized 268 kilograms of explosives, 197 hand grenades, 41 assault rifles, 85 guns and 10,256 bullets in 2010.

According to the National Police Department’s report, the rise in the level of education required of police and public services provided by police played a role in the declining rate of crime cases in Turkey.

In addition, about 85 percent of 218,255 police officers in Turkey are university graduates, while 14 percent of them are high school graduates and 1 percent have less than a high school education. There are 3,157 police officers who have a masters’ degree, while 222 police officers have a Ph.D. Also while there was one policeman for every 304 people in Turkey in 2009, this number fell to 296 people for every policeman in 2010 thanks to the recruitment of new officers.

The National Police Department also noted that one of the main reasons behind the fall in crime rate is the fact that the police and the public are more informed about crimes and criminals. As part of the public services provided by police, 74,216 public meetings have been held in Turkey through which 1,065,072 citizens have been informed about various crimes and criminal activity.

Training provided by police officers at schools where crime rate have risen rapidly have also begun to bear fruit. A total of 13,140 meetings have been held in line with the Safe School Project. A total of 103,816 school bus drivers, 44,049 managers of Internet cafes and cafes have also been given security training. A total of 1,185 out of the 6,035 children who faced criminal charges and legal actions were given training. A total of 303 of these children were also provided with employment in order to keep them from committing further offenses.

Another reason behind the fall in crime rates was cited as the installation of Mobile Electronic Systems Integration (MOBESE) cameras in 85 percent of areas in big cities in Turkey, making it possible for police to follow those involved in crimes. Thanks to the presence of cameras, allegations of torture and maltreatment at police stations have almost disappeared. A total of 85 percent of the 1,320 police stations in Turkey are monitored by security cameras.

Turkey’s Security Directorate also upgraded the technology of 1,154 of the 1,320 police stations in the country, making all events taking place in a police stations transparent and open to outside scrutiny. Thanks to the new training given to policemen, there have been major changes in the way the police intervene in social cases. In 2010, 2,279 people who took part in 690 illegal demonstrations were detained; however, when the number of demonstrators and police officers who were injured in such incidents is compared to past years, for the first time the number of injured police officers has outnumbered the number of injured demonstrators. While the number of policemen who were injured in illegal demonstrations in 2010 was 189, the number of civilians who were injured in these demonstrations was 93.

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