Crime shoots up despite lockdown

The Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth- Ochola during the launch of the Crime report at police headquarters in Naguru, Kampala, on May 18, 2022. PHOTO/ ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola attributed the increase in crime to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Crime increased in the country last year, although marginally, despite police’s Shs1 trillion budget, new hi-tech infrastructure, firepower, 50,000-plus boots on the ground and Covid-induced lockdown months.
Police registered 1,000 more criminal cases last year than in 2020, the index Covid-19 year during which the severest lockdown and mobility restrictions began to apply. 
This was a 0.1 percentage point rise in crime, or 196,931 cases up from195,931 registered the previous year.

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Releasing the 2021 Annual Crime and Traffic Safety Report at police headquarters in Naguru, a Kampala suburb, yesterday, the Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola said: “These crime trends were greatly influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and the subsequent opening of all sectors of the economy.”

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On the contrary, in 2021, the economy, including public transport, entertainment and the education sector were largely either shut down or restricted last year as Coronavirus infections and deaths spiralled from late May, resulting in a nationwide second lockdown from June.
During the lockdown, police and soldiers heavily deployed on streets and in neighbourhoods, and strictly enforced a 9pm to 5:30am curfew, with an intended purpose to keep criminals at bay. 

It was not until January 10, slightly over four months ago, that the government reopened all sectors of the economy.
Asked whether his administration would take blame for the higher-than-expected crime wave, IGP Ochola said crime can only be reduced, but not eradicated.
“Even in developed countries like the United States, there is still crime,” he said.
Police got the biggest budgets in its history in 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 financial years. The financial year starts in July and ends in June.
Nearly Shs2 trillion was utilised in both financial years by the police.

A big fraction of the budget went to detecting and preventing crime. In the last financial year, Shs172.6b was spent on surveillance and acquisition of firepower to deal with crime.
The new Director of Criminal Investigations, Maj Tom Magambo, named theft, assaults, domestic violence, sex-related offences and economic crimes as the top five offences.
Theft, which contributed 22.2 percent of the total criminal cases, was the most committed offence with 43,583 cases followed by assault and domestic violence with 29,317 and 17,533 recorded cases, respectively. Sex-related offences added to 16,373 incidents while economic crimes contributed to 10,966 cases.

Police reported 14,000-plus defilement cases during the period when civil society activists and the Ministry of Gender reported that anywhere up to 300,000 school girls, majority under 18 or defiled, eloped or turned teenage mothers. 
Asked about the anomaly, Maj Magambo did not answer the question and instead told journalist Joseph Kato to “go back to journalism school”.   
Mr Magambo said 14,570 children were defiled compared to 14,230 cases registered in 2020. At least 344 of the defiled children were boys.

Most of the defiled children were in the age bracket of 15 and 17 years with 10,053 cases followed by those between nine and 14 years contributing 2,986 cases. At least 1,280 defiled children were below eight years of age.
Despite the lockdown, theft offences increased by 3.8 percent last year compared to 2020 statistics. Theft topped criminal offences in 2020.
Kampala Metropolitan Police North Region had the highest crime rate in the country with 12,304 cases. It was followed by the Rwizi Police Region, which covers the districts of Mbarara, Ibanda, Isingiro, Kazo, Kiruhura, Ntungamo and Rwampala, with 12,130 cases.

North Kyoga, Greater Masaka and Albertine police regions followed in the sequence. Each had criminal cases numbering roughly 11,000.
Kampala Metropolitan Police South, which covers Rubaga Division, Makindye, Makindye Ssabagabo, and Entebbe Municipality that used to lead in crime in the country came in distant sixth.
In the latest crime report, the police didn’t include the statistics of each police region and division or district to enable us understand why those areas performed the way they did last year.

According to the report, Kamuli District had the highest number of crimes in the country with 3,078 cases followed by Luweero with 2,880 cases, Mbale with 2866 cases, Mbarara with 2,761 cases and Mpigi with 2,739 cases.
 In 2020, Old Kampala Division had the highest crimes with 3,262 cases, followed by Kapchorwa with 3,215 cases, Mpigi with 3,006 cases, Tororo with 2,902 cases, Katwe Division had 2,797 cases, and Kamuli had 2,725 cases.
Capital criminal cases, like defilement, aggravated robbery, and murder by shooting, increased last year.

TOP CRIMES
Theft, which contributed 22.2 percent of the total volume of crime, was the most committed offence with 43,583 cases followed by assault and domestic violence with 29,317 and 17,533 cases respectively.

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