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The National Police Agency intends to take on 5,000 more officers as an urgent measure and will incorporate the plan in its budget requests for fiscal 2002, which begins next April 1, agency officials said Friday.

The proposed increase comes amid a record low arrest rate of 19 percent for criminal cases for the first half of this year.

The NPA had planned to gradually add more than 10,000 new officers to the force over the next five years as part of police reforms, but decided that swift action was needed to establish a system to maintain the public’s safety and peace of mind, the officials said.

The planned increase surpasses that of fiscal 1996, when 3,500 new police officers were added in the wake of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake and the heinous crimes carried out by Aum Shinrikyo.

The NPA intends to boost the force by 10,000 members, including the urgent increase of 5,000, within the next three years.

A senior NPA official said, “Coming up with the large increase of 5,000 people will also boost the morale of police officers at the front line.

“To prevent the quality (of police) from falling by hiring a large number, we will ask for as many extra personnel as we can educate at the police academy,” the official said.

An advisory panel on police reform recommended the hiring increase in July 2000, and an increase of 2,580 was approved in the budget for the current fiscal year.

The extra personnel were assigned to 12 prefectures, including Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, where the number of crimes has risen in line with an increase in population.

The NPA said that with the planned increase, police will be assigned to almost all headquarters nationwide and emphasis will be placed on investigating crimes committed by foreigners and juveniles, as well as street patrols and measures to combat stalking.

A request for some 26.1 billion yen for security measures and other purposes for the 2002 World Cup finals as well as one of 4.9 billion yen to promote information security measures, including steps against computer hacking, will be incorporated in the budget request, the NPA said.

The NPA’s total budget requests will amount to 284.8 billion yen, down by 4.9 percent when special requests related to structural reforms are excluded, the agency said.

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