KOBE – More than 60 patrol officers of the Hyogo Prefectural Police falsified some 200 investigation documents in the last two years, apparently to enhance their performance ratings, police officials said Wednesday.
Some officers even fabricated reports on incidents that never even took place, the officials said.
About 10 of the falsified documents were officially submitted to prosecutors, who decided against pressing charges, the officials said.
Minor offenses are frequently exempt from indictment, but records of resolved incidents are counted as part of police achievements.
The widespread falsification came to light when incomplete entries were found in a document compiled by an officer of the Nishinomiya Police Station on an investigation into a bicycle theft.
That revelation prompted prefectural police to mobilize some 70 officials to scrutinize roughly 7,000 existing documents from 2002 and 2003. They are now looking into some 300 suspicious documents, police said.
Punishment is being considered for around 100 officers, including senior officials, for forging official documents or supervisory responsibility in failing to prevent such forgeries, they said.
The fabricated documents were mostly related to minor crimes such as stealing bicycles.
When officers identified thieves but could not get in touch with the owners of the bicycles, they pretended to be the victims themselves or used the names of homeless people to fill in the documents, the officials said. Such practices were used for some 10 documents that were reported to prosecutors.
More than 50 officers took advantage of copies of forged documents to exaggerate their achievements, the officials said.
Some replaced dates of past documents to forge new investigation documents and prepared documents on fictional incidents, they said.
“The document falsification, if proven true, is outrageous. Such acts would destroy public trust in government statistics,” fumed a senior official of the National Police Agency.
The embarrassing revelation comes just as the NPA has managed to report an increase in the ratio of crimes resolved.
According to the NPA, the number of criminal offenses reported to police fell by 2.2 percent from the previous year to roughly 2.79 million in 2003, reversing a rising trend that had continued since 1995.
According to their statistics, police managed to resolve 23.2 percent of the cases, compared with the postwar low of 19.8 percent in 2001.