Police are making fewer arrests while the number of serious crimes are on the increase, a survey released Thursday by the National Police Agency shows. According to the survey, arrests for such crimes as murder, robbery, and indecent assault — those classified by police as “serious crimes” — decreased 12 percent from last year to 73.1 percent. But the total number of criminal offenses during January to November this year rose 6.2 percent from the same period last year to 1.99 million, and will likely exceed 2 million for the second year in a row, the report also showed. It is the third consecutive year in which the ratio of arrests to crimes reported has declined, with this year’s ratio the worst in the post-war era. Officials at the NPA said the major reason behind the trend is increasing awareness of indecent assault as a crime, due to an improved attitude among police in dealing with victims. This has led to a rise in the number of women who have been brave enough to bring their cases forward. The results come at an inopportune time for the nation’s police forces, which have come under fire as several officers, many from the Kanagawa force, have recently been arrested for crimes ranging from groping to drug use. Police have also been admonished for trying to sweep the incidents under the carpet. These incidents, coupled with the numbers reflected in the report, strongly indicate that Japan’s police forces are facing a crisis, observers say. According to the report, the number of cases of robbery reached 3,817 during the first 11 months of the year, an increase of 21.4 percent from last year. While attacks on banks and other financial institutions decreased, robbing on the streets and in convenience stores at night have increased. While reports of indecent assault numbered 4,949 cases, apprehensions were made in only 3,208 cases. The statistics also show that the number of murders and the number of arrests made in murder cases have both decreased. Kidnapping cases jumped 11.7 percent, and arrests made in those cases increased 11.8 percent. This is the only category of serious crime that registered an increase in arrests. Among larceny incidents, car thefts increased 18.8 and purse-snatching jumped 14.7 percent. Taken with the robbery numbers, these figures show a marked rise in indiscriminate attacks in the streets. The number of robberies in which suspects were apprehended doubled, while the violence in them became more serious. Meanwhile, the number of cases of gun-related crimes was 158, an increase of 10 percent from the same period last year. A total of 28 people were killed in crimes involving guns. Police were able to seize 951 guns, which was 115 less than last year, it said. Police also detected 18 gun warehouses affiliated with gangsters. Crimes committed by foreigners increased 10.8 percent. Of that figure, Chinese were reported to be involved in 65.1 percent of the cases.
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