REPORTS of crime increased during the first six months of 2009 compared with the same period last year, according to the National Police.
The total number of crimes reported in the Kingdom rose from 1,410 in the first half of 2008 to 1,678 this year. The most common offences remain minor crimes such as bag-snatching, theft and violence, the majority of which were committed in public places and tourist hot spots.
Kirt Chantharith, spokesman for the National Police, blamed the overall increase on a surge in minor crime from 872 incidents in the first half of last year to 1,144 in 2009 through June. The number of people injured during these incidents had also risen from 422 to 492, he told the Post on Tuesday.
The number of serious crimes, meanwhile, has fallen from 278 to 238. "Although the total number of crimes has increased, serious crime has decreased because of a drop in the number of armed robberies," Kiet Chantharith said. The National Police attributed the reduction to round-the-clock police patrols in communes.
Crackdowns on gangster activity are now being incorporated into police plans, Kirt Chantharith said, because gangsters tend to congregate in public places, prompting unrest. "We are following recent directives from Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Ministry of Interior to crack down on gangsters and re-educate them," he said. "We want them to become good people."
In Phnom Penh, the authorities have made a concerted effort to curtail boisterous behaviour among youths. "We raid groups of gangsters who sit in the park, drinking at night," said Sok Penh Vuth, deputy governor of Daun Penh district in Phnom Penh.
"They drink and make noise, which creates disorder and makes people feel insecure in public areas," he said, noting that such gatherings often culminated in criminal activity.
On Saturday and Sunday, police in Daun Penh and Chamkarmon district detained 248 youngsters on suspicion of gang-related activity, Penh Vuth said.
First arrests result in a caution, but the penalty for second offences is more severe. Anyone caught a second time would be held by police until their parents signed a document and agreed to curtail their child's anti-social behaviour, Penh Vuth said.