Rangoon Division Has Highest Crime Rate in Burma

By Khin Oo Tha 18 August 2016

RANGOON — Rangoon Division has the highest crime rate among all of Burma’s states and divisions, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Rangoon had 345 reported major crimes from January until the end of July; Irrawaddy Division had the second highest amount with 296, home affairs deputy minister Maj-Gen Aung Soe told the Lower House of Parliament on Wednesday.
The deputy minister said the country’s police force was understaffed, in response to Pandaung Constituency lawmaker Khin Hnin Thit’s proposal to focus government efforts on reducing nationwide crime.

Divisions see higher crime statistics than states because they are more densely populated and the police forces in these areas are understaffed and overworked, said the major-general.

The Rangoon Division Police Force carried out its 100-day plan from May 1 to August 8, during which time the region saw 140 major crimes and almost 4,000 minor crimes, Rangoon Division police major Hla Wai told the Irrawaddy.

Major crimes, as defined by the police force, include murder, rape, robbery, burglary, mugging and kidnapping.

“During the short-term [three month] crime crackdown in 2015, we saw 99 major crimes, and during the 2016 plan, we saw 140. Child rape cases accounted for the majority,” said Hla Wai.

But crime rates in Rangoon seem to be declining, according to the monthly figures. There were 50 major crimes in May, 46 in June and 31 in July—mostly rapes, but also murder, robbery, kidnapping and burglary.

Previously, people under 14 were regarded as minors in Burma’s legal system. The age of consent has recently been changed to 16, which accounts for the increase in child rape cases, said the police major. He also attributed it to parental negligence and the easy accessibility of alcohol.

The police force said it achieved some success in its 100-day plan, which ran as a pilot project in South Dagon, Hlinetharyar, Kamayut and Thanlyin townships. The plan is currently running in eight additional townships.

According to international standards, the average ratio of residents to police should be about 400-1, but in Burma it is 1,200-1. Those forces are directly working on crime reduction and enforcing rule of law, said Maj-Gen Aung Soe.

Sixteen lawmakers debated Khin Hnin Thit’s proposal during two Lower House sessions. Lawmakers accept that the police force is understaffed, but some still blame the police force for the poor performance in cracking down on crime.
The home affairs deputy minister asked the Lower House to put the proposal on record and Parliament voted to do so.