Serious crimes on the rise in Latvia

The number of serious crimes is increasing in Latvia, so the responsible authorities are discussing improving the effectiveness of the police, Latvian Radio reported September 30.

On Wednesday, during the meeting of the Saeima Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Commission, representatives of the State Police revealed the need to address police capacity problems, both technical security and workload. It is also necessary to re-establish training facilities for operational staff.

Reasons for the rise in serious crimes are different, but State Police says one reason is that people who have returned to Latvia due to COVID-19 have taken the path of crime.

The prosecutor's spokesman, Arvīds Kalniņš, said that crime numbers could rise in the coming years.

The total number of murders, however, has decreased since 2011. This year by September 21, 54 people had been killed, one of whom was a contract killing, two related to robbery, but all others were domestic crimes.

Prevention measures must be considered in order to reduce the number of crimes in the long term, but the police lack the time to do so, said Andis Rinkevics, chief of the State Police Prevention Control Division:

“With preventive work, a precinct inspector on average has about 10% of the working time he can devote [to it]. Average 10% means someone has 0% and another has 20%. If you surveyed the precincts in Riga and asked if the station's inspector had time to go out to his territory, meet with residents and survey the risk sites … This requires a lot of time. They don't have it.”

According to Rinkevics, it is necessary to establish a separate post of prevention inspector at the level of police stations, for which these measures would constitute a basic activity.

It is important that citizens can protect themselves in a collective way. Many countries have neighborhood security programs when citizens protect each other in their environment. It saves police resources, Rinkevics said.

“Lithuanians have been very active in implementing these neighborhood security programs for at least 15 years. And their collective protection capabilities are well higher than in Latvia. It takes a lot of time, a lot of years, but it is possible to do this, and the Lithuanian are a good enough example in this respect,” said the police representative.

Criminal Investigation Chief Armands Ruks pointed out that capacity building, both material and human resources, plays an important role in improving the effectiveness of police work. He also noted that the issue of police training was important. 


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