RESIDENTS of Phnom Penh’s poorest neighbourhoods are reluctant to report crimes to police because they believe it is a waste of time and fear they will be asked to put up “incentive” money in order to receive meaningful assistance, according to a survey of five communities released by the UN on Thursday.
The survey from UN-Habitat, the UN agency charged with promoting “socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities”, also found that around half of all respondents from the five communities – Borei Mittapheap, Andong, Meanchey Sattrey Aphiwat, Boeung Salang and Chamroeun – had been the victims of crimes such as theft, domestic violence and rape.
“People hesitate to report the crimes to police when they think that what happened to them is petty, and that it is likely a waste of time to go to meet the police,” Kol Leakhana, coordinator for UN-Habitat’s Safer City Project, said during a launch event for the survey.
“It is their habit because they think that the things they lost will not be recovered if they report a theft.”
She added: “They are poor, and they have no ‘incentive’ money to give police.”
Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth on Thursday denied that Phnom Penh residents are routinely asked to pay fees when reporting crimes.
“We have no such policy to demand money from people who report crimes or file complaints with us,” he said in response to the survey’s findings, adding that “participation from people is a must to contribute to the reduction of crimes”.
He suggested that people make use of public suggestion boxes, which police have installed in all 76 of the capital’s communes. “They can write about the irregularities of law enforcement or any crimes that have happened in their communities, and we will take action later,” he said.
The survey, which had a total of 375 respondents, showed that women and children were most likely to be the victims of crimes; that most people thought drugs, alcohol and poverty were the main causes of crime; and that 97 percent of people wanted local authorities and police to do more to prevent crime in their communities.
Overall, crime has dropped steadily since 2002, according to figures provided by UN-Habitat, though the survey recorded a slight increase in petty crime last year. The overall decline, UN-Habitat said, can be attributed to increasing development.