Negative perception on the police must be curbed

The negative perception of the police by the community is seen as a new “crime” which should be curbed immediately, according to Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) Vice-Chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

He said this problem had been identified some time ago but efforts to curb it demanded time and the collaboration of many quarters.

“When a crime takes place, there are victims who prefer not to report it to the police, thinking that the process will be dragging.

“This does not help the police in curbing crime. In fact, a new problem emerges – the negative perception towards crime prevention, especially the police,” he said.

Lee was speaking to Bernama after a roundtable of the National Key Results Area (NKRA) on crime reduction at Wisma Bernama, here recently.

He said the community also asked how it was to believe the statistics indicating less incidence of crime when violent crimes such as murders and armed robberies were reported almost everyday.

Lee said the MCPF proposed more activities involving the police and the community, such as the existing community policing, to dispel the negative perception.

The ability to communicate well with the community was seen as a primary weapon to curb the “perception crime”, whereby more people would begin to help the police fight crime, he said.

Lee said heart-to-heart talk between the police and the community would help to strengthen trust and confidence inthe national security system.

He said Asians, including Malaysians, were inclined to questioning and having a negative perception of anything done by the authorities.

“Although the police and other agencies do a good job of fighting crime and arresting offenders, there are still those who criticise and highlight the weaknesses of the police, for example.

“This is the crime of perception. If we can change this perception in the community, the police task of curbing crime will become easier as the community will have full confidence in the police then,” he said.

Meanwhile, Assoc Prof of Criminology at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Dr P. Sundramoorthy, said some people did not believe the statistics on crime reduction issued by the police because they felt that the data would be more credible if it came from non-governmental organisations or consultants.

He said the community preferred to see the whole picture of a crime, from the process of tracing the offenders up to the point of prosecution.

“It is clear that the community’s perception here is whether the offender caught by the police will be given a light sentence or freed, meaning the offender is not given a sentence commensurate with the crime.

“Again, they see the whole picture, not only the police but also the prosecution practitioners,” he said.

Sundramoorthy said the community’s perception changed from time to time depending on the environment and the incidence of crime.

“If last year their interest was in snatch thefts, then this year it is on cases which received big media coverage, though snatch thefts do occur,” he said.