PESHAWAR: Although a sharp decline has been witnessed in terrorism-related incidents in the provincial capital, acts of violence and street crimes continue to plague the city, official figures of Peshawar Police Department revealed.
Only 10% of the cases prosecuted in 2016 and five percent in 2017 concerned serious crimes while the remaining were minor cases under local and special laws, anti-narcotics law, arms ordinance, and other petty offenses, a provincial government document revealed. The figures indicate that significant time and institutional resources of the police, prosecution, courts and correctional services are being taken up by relatively minor offenses while the more serious crimes are being under-reported and under-prosecuted.
A police officer told on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to talk to media that there is a significant weakness in the investigation of serious offenses, a lack of forensic evidence-gathering capability, and the unwillingness of the public to appear as witnesses.
“As a result, there are serious failings in prosecution”, he said, adding that an unacceptably high number of trials for serious offenses result in acquittals for lack of sufficient evidence. “The problem is even acute in sensitive categories of offenses like cases of terrorism, organized crime involving weapons and narcotics, and instances of violence against women” he added.
Violent crimes including street crimes, extortion and murders increased in 2017 for a second consecutive year, revealed official statistics of Peshawar Police.
According to police annual Peshawar Police statistics, crimes reported in Peshawar in various forms such as 370 murders cases were registered in different police stations of Peshawar in 2017 and police investigated 96 cases. 482 cases of attempt to murders, 25 cases of rape, 10 sodomy and 52 cases of kidnapping were registered in different police stations of the provincial capital. The statistics revealed that 12 cases of kidnapping for ransom, two cases of child lifting and 54 cases of abduction were reported in separate police stations of Peshawar last year.
Apart from murders and kidnapping, other street crimes have also been increased in 2017 as total 104 robbery cases, 18 cases of dacoity, 127 cases of burglary, 185 cases of theft, 69 cases of car theft, 17 cases of other vehicles theft, 10 cases of car snatching, nine cases of other motor vehicles theft, 101 cases of motorcycle theft, 40 cases of motorcycle snatching were registered in different police stations.
24 cases of extortion, eight cases of extortion in which extortionists use explosive material were reported, according to official documents.
According to official statistics obtained by The Frontier Post revealed that 6406 cases of crime against persons and property have been registered in Peshawar for further investigation among 6406, the court has decided 50 cases and only in two cases, criminals were convicted and in 48 cases, the alleged culprits were acquitted during 2017. In 2016, 5719 cases of crime against property and people were registered in different police stations of Peshawar and 58 cases were decided by the court while the rest were pending. Among 58 cases, in seven cases the criminals were convicted while in 51 cases the alleged accused were acquitted.
The criminal justice system is also inefficient as regards the prosecution of serious and violent offenses. According to the reported rates of the prosecution and conviction of offenders are increasing over the previous few years, these statistics are distorted by very high rates of prosecution and conviction for minor offenses.
Capital City Police Chief Muhammad Tahir Khan said that we need to improve the investigation wing of police department and prosecution. He said that low conviction rate is not only incompetency of police department; it is also incompetency of public prosecutors. He suggested combine performance of evaluation of police, prosecutors, and judiciary on daily basis. Tahir further said that the decline in the terrorism incidents was due to the commendable performance of KP police and also the sacrifices given by its jawans and officers.
An analysis of the nature and categories of cases received by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prosecution Service from 2014 – 2016 shows that approximately 65% of these cases result in the conviction, a mere 6.5% on average lead to acquittals and 8.5% are compounded i.e. a settlement between the accused and accuser is reached.
Less than 1% of the convictions result in appeals. A closer analysis indicates, however, that the high conviction and disposal rates are bolstered by a higher than expected proportion of cases concerning petty offenses.
A police investigator said that the criminal justice system is inefficient in investigating and successfully prosecuting serious offenses, it is unduly efficient and coercive in the prosecution of minor offenses.
He added that main problem originates with the governing legislation which makes it relatively easy to prosecute and convict defendants for minor offenses.
“The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provides for the arrest and detention of the accused in a vast array of relatively minor cases and the police are incentivized to arrest and charge, and the prosecution to seek easy convictions of the accused in such cases in order to demonstrate performance” he disclosed.
The high levels of arrest, prosecution and conviction for minor offenses have over-burdened the judicial system resulting in a high pendency of cases, delays, and inconsistent sentencing, he said.
He suggested that enhance coordination between and accountability of criminal justice institutions; improve investigation, prosecution, and trial processes for serious offenses; reduce arrest, prosecution, conviction and incarceration for minor offenses; and develop capacity, infrastructure, and resources of criminal justice institutions.