ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s reported narcotics offenses were up in 2018, but many other grave crimes continued a downward trend seen in recent years, official data showed.
Grave narcotics offenses doubled to 4,387 from 2,845 in 2018, pushing total grave crimes up by 376 offenses to 36,355 in 2018, up from 35,979 in 2017.
Outside of narcotics grave crimes fell to 31,968 in 2018 from 33,134 in 2017.
It is not clear whether and increased focus on the narcotics by police also contributed to detections.
Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena had declared a ‘war on drugs’ urging police and other authorities to nab drug peddlers. He has also threatened to execute drug peddlers.
Reported burglaries fell to 8,085 in 2018 from 8,913 in 2017.
Causing grievous injuries fell to 942 from 1,050.
Other robberies fell from 3,336 to 3,146.
Causing injury using dangerous weapons fell to 1,947 from 2,137 in 2018.
In 2014, before the established of the police commission under the 19th amendment, 50,804 grave crimes were reported, including 15,050 cases of housebreaking and theft.
It is not clear whether the recent fall in grave crimes is related to the establishment of the police commission. The police commission made it more difficult to politicians to punish and transfer police officers who were solving cases.
During the so-called 52-day coup President Maithripala Sirisena also failed to transfer a CID officer due to the existence of the police commission. During the war years, police may have also been forced to commit more resources to other matters, which may have made routine law enforcement suffer, analysts say.
The number of cases listed as ‘solved’ had grown from 58 percent in 2014 to 73 percent in 2017. The total ‘solved’ cases fell back to 68 percent in 2018 and it is not clear why.
However police had earlier said an automated fingerprint detection system helped solve more crimes from 2014.
But there were increases in several categories of crimes in 2018, reversing the steady fall seen in recent years.
Homicides which fell from 502 in 2016 to 420 in 2017, increased to 489 in 2018.
Kidnappings which fell from 297 in 2016 to 251 in 2017, grew to 260 in 2018.
In 2018 kidnappings rose to 260 from 251 and abductions rose to 754 from 647.
Rape of women over 16 years of age which fell from 350 in 2016 to 279 in 2017 had increased to 346 in 2018. Rapes of girls below the age of 16, which fell from 292 in 2016 to 232 in 2017 had increased to 248 in 2018.