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Overall Low Crime Rates, Yet a Rise in Specific Offenses Grabs Attention

โ€ฆ ๐‘ซ๐’“๐’–๐’ˆ ๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’–๐’”๐’† ๐’”๐’–๐’“๐’ˆ๐’†๐’”, ๐’˜๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’† ๐’ƒ๐’‚๐’•๐’•๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’ƒ๐’–๐’“๐’ˆ๐’๐’‚๐’“๐’š ๐’„๐’‚๐’”๐’†๐’” ๐’…๐’†๐’„๐’๐’Š๐’๐’†

Susmika Subba

The crime statistics of 2023 reveal a discernible uptick in specific offenses. Although Bhutan maintains relatively low overall crime rates, the data highlights shifts in criminal activity across various categories. Notably, drug abuse, battery, larceny, and burglary stand out as the most reported incidents.

According to an RBP official, “The reduction in battery cases demonstrates the effectiveness of community engagement programs and initiatives aimed at addressing underlying issues contributing to interpersonal violence.”
In the larceny category, there was a slight decrease, with 286 cases reported in 2023 compared to 308 in 2022. Officials acknowledge ongoing efforts to curb theft, emphasizing the role of community vigilance and crime prevention initiatives in this modest decline.

Burglary cases also experienced a decrease, dropping from 251 in 2022 to 216 in 2023. RBP emphasizes the importance of community cooperation and security measures in curbing property-related crimes.

Thimphu, Phuntsholing, Paro, and Gelephu consistently report higher crime rates, a trend officials attribute to population density. RBP officials state, “These areas have some of the highest population concentrations in our country, naturally leading to a higher number of reported incidents.”

An additional factor contributing to elevated crime rates, especially among the youth, is unemployment and lack of stability. RBP officials explain, “Some of the reasons for high crime rates are due to young individuals who lack jobs and stable lives. They may fall prey to drugs and alcohol without proper guidance or guardians to support and guide them.” Authorities are actively working on tailored community programs and law enforcement strategies to address the specific challenges posed by population density in these regions.

Regarding awareness initiatives, an RBP official stated, “We have been visiting different schools and colleges to create awareness related to it and cite examples of how it will impact their future and how they can recover and prevent such crimes.”

One of the most notable shifts is seen in the Offence of Drug Abuse category, with reported cases surging from 593 in 2022 to 1566 in 2023. RBP officials are actively monitoring this trend and attribute the rise to increased awareness, reporting, and continuous efforts to combat illicit substances in the community. An RBP official stated, “The rise in drug-related offenses could be attributed to increased awareness and reporting, as well as our continued efforts to combat illicit substances in the community.”

Contrary to expectations, Battery and Assault cases show a decline from 1283 in 2022 to 868 in 2023. RBP officials suggest that this decrease may be indicative of successful community outreach and preventative measures.

While the statistics indicate shifts in certain crime categories, Bhutan remains a relatively safe country. The Royal Bhutan Police continues to collaborate with communities to address these challenges effectively, with a focus on prevention, community engagement, and addressing the root causes of criminal behavior.

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