Crime-related data must be disclosed

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Crime-related data must be disclosed

“Residents may oppose it because it would damage the local reputation.”

On March 21, the JoongAng Ilbo published a map illustrating the risk of sexual crimes for 251 cities and counties nationwide. For this story, I carried out field investigation work after studying data provided by the Korean Institute of Criminology that analyzed sex crime risk. I met a local council member from Suwon, a region with a high risk index.

“In fact, the crime rate in the region is problematic,” he said. “If crime data is presented, it would be useful to make specific plans.”

However, he was uncomfortable disclosing statistics by cities, counties and districts. The police reaction was similar. “We certainly want to make it public, but the residents would protest.”

Houses were closely spaced, and the streets and alleys were like a labyrinth. Walls were cracked and the paint was peeling. It was quite obvious why this area in Paldal District, Suwon, is so vulnerable to sexual crimes. Kim Gi-jeong, the head of the Urban Environment Committee of the Suwon City Council, said that safety measures, such as expanding surveillance cameras in the region, were pushed aside because of budget constraints.

Then is it alright to cover up the risk and neglect it? Developed countries already disclose crime-related data to society. In the United States, anyone can access crime-mapping websites, and after a few clicks, the types of crimes, the locations and the investigations for each region can be searched through and viewed. In Britain, Police UK, operated by the police agency, provides the number of crimes per time period and the exact locations for 16 types of major crimes.

According to Dr. Park Jun-hwi of the Korean Institute of Technology, there is research that shows that residents who viewed crime statistics were more willing to pay more taxes to prevent such crimes. “In order to lower the risk of sexual crimes, budget allocation is necessary. But more importantly, local residents need to get involved in resolving the problem. Residents should pressure the authorities and related agencies to come up with plans.”

Last year, Busan launched the Mother’s Police Group in 16 areas with violent crime. Routine patrol and a safe house for children lowered the sex crime rate by 17.7 percent in one year.

Suwon City Council member Lee Hye-ryeon said, “I met with fellow council members after reading the JoongAng Ilbo article and discussed plans to improve public safety in the area. We are seeking alternate plans to prevent crimes, like pushing for the creation of a police station with exclusive jurisdiction over Paldal District.” Solving problems often begins with sharing information, and crime prevention is no exception.

The author is a national news writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Mar. 25, Page 29

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