NGO: Crime in Georgia up by 17.23% in 2019

The non-governmental organization ‘Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information’ (IDFI) reports that the crime rate in the first seven months of 2019 has increased by 17.23%.

The NGO says that in January-July 2019, 38,748 crimes were registered in the country, 17.23% more than in the first seven months of 2018.

Moreover, in 2019, there is also a negative trend in terms of opening of criminal cases, which has deteriorated by about 4% compared to 2018.

The report reads that comparison of the 2018 and 2019 crime rates to statistics of the previous years raises important questions about the methodology used and possible falsification of statistics to show the desired results.

“The number of crimes registered in seven months of 2019 already exceeds those recorded in 2014-2017 throughout the year… Also, changing the accounting system seems to have had a significant impact on the accuracy of case opening rates. For example, in the first seven months of 2017, the opening rate was 53.82%, which is down to 32.28% in 2019,” the IDFI claims.

The organization also noted that according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, during the first seven months of 2019, only the number of traffic and public servants’ crime groups decreased compared to the previous year. The growth rate of other registered crime groups ranges from 4% to 33%. The number of crimes against human rights and freedoms has increased by approximately 33% compared to the same period last year, which is 393 more cases reported to the police.

Moreover, in the same period, the number of drug offenses has increased by 26% compared to the previous year. Among them, 257 cases of drug possession, storage or selling were registered, with 227 cases of repeated drug use. The increase in this category can be partly explained by the tightening of control in this field.

However, the number of crimes against life declined by 16% compared to the previous year. The number of suicide cases increased by 15.5% (168 cases) while the number of premeditated murders decreased by 54% (25 cases less), but at the same time the number of premeditated murders in aggravated circumstances increased by 43.7%.

In 2019, the number of crimes against property increased again (by 19.6%). The biggest increase (+2265 cases) remains as theft.

In addition to this, the rate of domestic violence increased by 305 cases, (+10.38%), followed by rape (18 cases more, +36%) and cybercrime (+610 cases, +130%), which includes unauthorized access to computers, computer data or illegal use and of the computer system.

The organization noted that during the first seven months of 2019, the increase in the number of registered crimes by crime groups had a negative impact on their case opening rate.

“The crime opening rate declines every year amid increasing funding allocated from the state budget to the ministry,” IDFI said.

Despite the concerns expressed in the report, the IDFI welcomed the Ministry of Internal Affair’s (MIA) practice of proactively disclosing crime statistics from 2018.

The 2018 statistics of the MIA showed that crime increased by 55.8% January-July compared to the corresponding period of 2017 while the crime opening rate in 2018 was 17.2% less compared to the previous year.

As in the past, this year the MIA said the main reason for the increased crime rate is that citizens are addressing the police more often following awareness raising of their rights, and due to increasing trust towards law enforcers.

By Thea Morrison

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12 September 2019 17:45