World Bank Report Shows Crime Rate In PNG Stabilizing

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Prison population down 50% over past 3 years

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, August 18, 2014) – Crime rate in the country has significantly dropped in the past three years, with the prison population reduced by more than 50% over the same period, it has been revealed.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill revealed the positive news when responding to a World Bank analysis on the economic situation and impact of crime on it.

The report will be reviewed by the Government as part of its planning and policy development "so as to continue to improve law and order" in PNG.

"There has been a significant decline in major crime over the past three years due to strong government policy on law and order that is supported through increased funding," he said.

O’Neill said: "This has seen the number of inmates at several prisons decrease by over half – such as in Bomana (in Port Moresby) where the inmates have been reduced from more than 1000 to around 450.

"The reduction in crime and decreased prison population clearly shows (that) our youths are being given the opportunity to engage meaningfully in education and employment opportunities.

"We will continue to build on this success."

[PIR editor’s note: The PNG Post-Courier reported that despite the rosy picture PM O’Neill painted about progress ‘Eight in 10 businesses in Papua New Guinea suffer substantial losses and security costs as a result of high rates of crime and violence, slowing business expansion and hampering the country’s economic development, says a World Bank report. ... More than 80 percent of 135 companies surveyed said their business decisions are negatively influenced by the country’s law and order situation, with crime significantly increasing the cost of doing business. The expense of avoiding criminal damage limits firms’ ability to grow, deters start-ups, and imposes significant long-term social costs on the country.’]

The Government requested the World Bank to conduct the research to "better assess the social and economic costs of crime and violence as this relates to business, citizens, government and civil society".

"The World Bank statement makes note that crime has stabilised, while at the same time more work needs to be done," O’Neill said.

"We have made a commitment to the people and businesses of Papua New Guinea to improve law and order and we are meeting this challenge."

O’Neill said the report’s recommendations had been acted on in relation to central police engagement and improvements in social and community infrastructure.

"Through decentralisation initiatives, the government is better utilising local community knowledge and delivering programmes to confront conditions and situations that can lead to crimes being committed," he said.

"This includes activities to empower youths to gain skills and access employment, to strengthen community intervention, and undertaking dialogue to address the factors that contribute to criminal activity."

The World Bank report had stated that eight out of 10 businesses that were interviewed said they suffered substantial losses and security costs because of crime.

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