National Police Chief Calls for Crackdown on Petty Criminals

National Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun on Tuesday called on Phnom Penh’s police forces to increase arrest rates in the city to 75 percent of reported crimes and also asked municipal judges to grant bail less frequently.

Speaking to police, military police and court officials attending the annual meeting of the municipal police, General Savoeun said police must focus their efforts on stopping bag snatching in the city.

Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong, left, National Police chief Neth Savoeun, center, and Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Chuon Sovann inspect a smoke grenade and launcher at the annual municipal police meeting in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Mech Dara/The Cambodia Daily)
Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong, left, National Police chief Neth Savoeun, center, and Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Chuon Sovann inspect a smoke grenade and launcher at the annual municipal police meeting in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. (Mech Dara/The Cambodia Daily)

“Our first challenge is small robberies and snatching, and I ask the Phnom Penh governor to help the force cooperate and for the district governors to help get rid of them,” he said.

Gen. Savoeun then turned to the court officials in the room and asked them to be less willing to release captured thieves on bail.

“Even if there are people there to bail them, you should not release them so soon,” he said. “We need strong action to confront them. We’ve been criticized by…the European Union and secondly by Japan over the snatching.”

The national police chief said Phnom Penh police have had their hands tied during the political tension between the July 2013 national election and July last year, but now must make more arrests.

“We made arrests for only 66 percent of the crimes that were committed, and that is still low, while the whole country has [an arrest rate of] 73 percent of crimes, and some provinces even have 90   percent,” Gen. Savoeun said.

“Therefore Phnom Penh demands more work—not less than 75 percent—so we have to have a lot more arrests when cases happen.”

At the close of the meeting, Gen. Savoeun announced a number of donations to the city’s police force. Interior Minister Sar Kheng donated 100 motorbikes, Gen. Savoeun donated 40 smoke-grenade launchers, while Phnom Penh police chief Chuon Sovann and Gen. Savoeun together donated 4,000 riot-armor kits.

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