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Study shows increase in theft cases in Dar

THERE is a sharp increase in reported incidents of theft and public violence in Dar es Salaam since 2012, an investigation done in the city recently has revealed.

The study on crime and security, released in Dar es Salaam on Friday by a citizen-centred initiative that focuses on large-scale change in East Africa (Twaweza), notes that the reported prevalence of theft has developed.

The report focuses on mapping the prevalence of different types of crime and violence in the city. The study is based on mobile phone interviews with 308 respondents in all three districts of Dar es Salaam.

“The current study shows that for many citizens, crime and violence remain part of their everyday lives. In addition, findings suggest a recent and substantial rise in the prevalence of theft and violence,” it notes.

 It shows that crime rates as reported by respondents remained largely stable between mid-2010 and the end of 2012.

“However, the current data reveal a sharp increase in reported incidents of theft and public violence since 2012,” it adds.

The findings show how the reported prevalence of theft has developed within the three districts of the city since the end of 2012.

“While all the three districts saw an increase in theft, Temeke and Kinondoni experienced the most substantial worsening in theft rates. It remains to be seen whether these critical developments are mere fluctuations or indicators of a general trend,“ it says.

The study also sought to gain a better understanding of the types of violence that people are confronted with most frequently.

For that purpose, the survey included a number of questions on public incidents of violence.

For example, respondents were asked if they had heard of anyone who had been beaten, stoned or killed in their neighbourhood in the two years prior to the interview.

Four in ten report at least one incident of beating/stoning (39 per cent) and one in ten even remember a murder that had happened in their neighbourhood during the previous 24 months (12 per cent).

Even though most of this violence was committed by an angry mob, a notable share is also attributed to the police or local militia (sungu sungu), says the report.

Unfortunately, a direct comparison with previous data on security is complicated by a change in the wording of the corresponding survey question.

 Nevertheless, these figures also suggest a substantial rise in acts of public violence: In September 2012 only 11 per cent could remember someone being threatened, beaten, stoned or killed in their neighbourhood in the two years prior to the interview.

Respondents reported violence between members of different religious or political groups considerably more often (both 6 per cent) than violence between different ethnic groups (3 per cent).

The study also explored what respondents would do when if they become the victim of a crime. Ideally, citizens would be expected to turn to the police after a crime has been committed.
 
Almost nine in ten interviewees state that they would report to the police if they or a member of their household had become the victim of a crime (87 per cent).
 
While a large majority thus agrees that one should turn to the police when a crime has been committed, respondents actually show very little trust in the effectiveness of the police force.

 “Only one in three is certain the police would take any action when a crime is reported (34 per cent). Even though the current study does not investigate the causes of this lack of trust in the effectiveness of the police force,” it says.

Previous reports suggest that one of the main reasons can be found in the perceived widespread corruption among police officers.