Crime and Policing: In Numbers

The numbers show police reports rather than resolutions of cases.

Maldives Police Service HQ - (Photo by Mihaaru)

Maldives Police Service HQ - (Photo by Mihaaru)

The Maldives Police Service, in numbers

The Maldives Police Service has not always been the public’s favourite due to various reasons, and understandably so.  Yet a police force is a necessary entity for the proper execution of a democratic system. For this reason, the Maldivian government has been working hard to improve the service, and the last few years has seen quite a marked increase in the investments sent their way as well.

The proper way to judge the effectiveness of a police force would be through crime statistics and efficiency of policing, and to this effect the publicly available records are not as transparent. The numbers show police reports rather than resolutions of cases, which would obviously require proper judicial procedure to see the matter through to the end. However, this also leaves the question open as to whether actual police work has led to fruitful ends or if the log books keep piling up.

To gauge a proper picture of modern Maldivian policing, the years to compare would be 2020 and 2021, with 2017 to give context of pre-Solih Presidency numbers. Accordingly, there was 21.9 percent decrease of crime rates from 2017 to 2020 (from 12,725 reports in 2017 to 9,939 in 2022) which could be attributed to the effect of the health emergency due to Covid-19. And then, in 2021, the rates once again resumed markedly close to the 2017 value, at 12,256 reported cases, a 23.21 percent increase from 2020. This could be attributed to the easing of restrictions after the pandemic was getting under control in the Maldives.

However, in 2022 thus far, there has been a whopping 2,926 crimes recorded by the police. If one were to do simple arithmetic and make a conservative assumption, the trend if stable would round up at roughly 8000-9000 reported crimes for the totality of this year, which would be at pandemic levels per se. Of course, that’s not how humanity works, so it would be an err to make such an assumption.

Yet that arithmetic does give hope to the effectiveness and renewed vigour of the Maldives Police service’s efforts in 2022, optimistically, as this average value has been decreased by over 300 cases per month. No single type of offence has shown any notable jump in numbers over the years, but with the renewed and quite persistent joint operations between Police and MNDF over the last few months to curb the use and trafficking of illegal substances, the numbers listed under ‘Drugs’ on the crime statistics sheet can be expected to go even lower.

As for the investments in the Maldives Police Service, there has been 23.93% increase from 2020 to 2022. Over MVR1,400 million had been spent on the Police according to the budgetary publications, and over MVR1,700 million has been budgeted for 2022. The increase in expenses could be brushed off as improvements to the service in all regards, yet the values when observed closely, show curious, and stark, distinctions.

Observe below the values, in Millions of Rufiya, and the subsequent percentage changes:

The values for travelling, training expenses, repairs and maintenance, capital expenditure, infrastructure assets, and furniture, machinery, equipment expenses can be attributed to the new training facility that has been built in Seenu Hithadhoo. This could also include “Other Infrastructure” noted in the budgetary publication, yet there is little clarity in the public available documents.

More expenditure should equal to safer streets, more public awareness, cases being resolved quicker with proper police procedure and no judicial errors due to investigative failures, in a perfect system, but that is not the case in reality. Crime has been philosophically described as the result of unmet needs of the general population, where societal and domestic issues lead to increased drug uses, which in turn leads to increase in theft and other financial crimes to sustain the increased use of drugs and such. These are the general trends seen in civilised societies around the world, and in the Maldives there is little to suggest otherwise.

Societal strife has been at an all time high mainly due to the political volatility and party contention within the communities, and the police are left to deal with the aftermath. However, the Police, and in turn the government, need to justify the immense expenses being allocated for the Police Service in 2022, and the only results, as mentioned in the beginning, can be seen in crime statistics.

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