Crimes are increasing as police grapple with a less cooperative public and criminals’ increasing use of high technology, the National Police Agency said in its 2000 white paper released Friday.
The report also mentions crimes committed by police, the first time the annual publication has taken up the issue. There were a series of police-related scandals last year, including the covering up of illegal drug use by an officer in Kanagawa Prefecture, which contributed to an erosion of public confidence in the police.
The paper indicates that crime is at a record high in Japan.
The number of reported offenses topped 2 million in 1998 and rose to a record 2.17 million in 1999. The number of people arrested for crimes has remained high at around 300,000 per year during the past decade.
Increases were reported in the level of organized crime, including offenses committed by foreigners, and in new types of crimes, notably those involving high technology.
The report also says the public is less cooperative in criminal investigations, a trend attributed to a heightened awareness of personal privacy and less day-to-day contact between neighbors, particularly in big cities.
The report says 19 officers were discharged in 14 separate cases in 1998. In 1999, 39 officers in 38 cases were dismissed, and in the first six months of this year alone, 38 officers were discharged in 33 cases.
Citizens are generally unhappy with police performance, the paper suggests. A poll conducted in June shows that 37.1 percent of respondents expressed “general dissatisfaction” with the police.
The result is in sharp contrast to the 5.8 percent citing the same sentiment in a similar survey conducted by the government in 1972.
Given the public’s dissatisfaction with the police, the agency has promised to do its best “to live up to the expectations of the public” and said it is revamping its structure with the aim of preventing police scandals form occurring.
The report also says police need to listen to the victims of crimes in good faith and properly deal with crimes that threaten the public. The paper also calls for continued efforts to improve the investi
gative capabilities of police.
NIIGATA (Kyodo) The Niigata District Court on Friday handed a suspended sentence to a former police officer for covering up traffic violation records in Niigata Prefecture.
Noboru Kuribayashi, 48, was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for three years. Prosecutors had sought a 10-month sentence.
Judge Isoo Sakaki said in the ruling that the defendant neglected his duties as a police officer by providing favors to certain people and that he damaged public trust.
The ruling is the first in a series of coverups of traffic records by members of the force. Several officers have been indicted in the case.
According to the ruling, Kuribayashi, formerly a senior officer at the accounting section of the Niigata prefectural police, used a computer to conceal a traffic violation by a daughter of the chief of Niigata-Minami Police Station; the woman had ignored a traffic signal in April 1999.
Kuribayashi and a colleague, Nozomu Sonehara, 51, also on trial in the case, jointly took part in the coverup, the ruling said.
The ruling also said Kuribayashi erased computer records of a traffic violation of a former police officer in March 1999 and that of another police officer’s son in September the same year.
Lawyers of Kuribayashi, claiming his concealment efforts were on the instructions of his bosses, asked for a lenient sentence.
After the ruling was delivered, the lawyers said they would not file an appeal.
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