Police are manipulating crime statistics, NGO claims

The non-governmental organisation and a weekly magazine interviewed police officers, who point out the image presented by police representatives differs from the actual state.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: Sme )

The real state of Slovak police is much different from the image presented by the leaders of the Interior Ministry and the Police Corps. This stems from the findings of the Stop Corruption Foundation and the Trend weekly which interviewed 16 police investigators.

Among the most serious revelations is the manipulation of crime statistics in order to make the police appear successful in finding perpetrators of serious crimes and forced returns to the civilian life of some officers by their politically nominated superiors. Moreover, the police are suffering from fluctuation, as it is difficult to find replacements for retired investigators, partly due to low starting salaries, the TASR newswire reported.

All 16 police officers, two-thirds of whom are still with the police, told the interviewers that they cannot imagine prosecuting a bigwig in the current situation.

“We attempted to select officers that we viewed as trustworthy and the interviews were really in-depth,” said the foundation’s head Pavel Sibyla, as quoted by TASR. “They took up to several hours and we present only things that all of them concurred on.”

Police gave cases different classifications

Providing some details on the manipulation of crime statistics, Sibyla cited a theft of a wooden box containing apples by some youths who were arrested after the crime. Nonetheless, the police ranked the crime as burglary, pointing out that the youths needed to crawl through a fence to be able to get possession of the box.

Conversely, a case involving a homeless man who was found dead with a cut throat was ranked as an accident, as the officers knew that it would be next to impossible to find the murderer.

Many officers practice self-censorship and keep away from politically sensitive cases, according to Sibyla. At the same time it is possible for politically nominated superiors to distribute sensitive cases to specific investigators.

“A superior has a person at their department who has 90 percent of their cases dropped because they’re idle to collect evidence, lack the necessary skills or just know well what the desirable outcome is,” said Sibyla, as quoted by TASR, citing one of the interviewed officers, who did not show particular trust for the Interior Ministry’s internal affairs inspectorate, either.

Police reject the accusations

The police objected to the report, calling the revelations untrue, misleading, and a deliberate attack.

“It is a fabrication and misleading of the public with the aim to harm the positive results and activities of the Police Corps,” its press department wrote in a statement, as quoted by TASR. “These attacks are intensifying in the context of trying to recall Police Corps President Tibor Gašpar.”

The police cannot manipulate the number of road accidents or the number of thefts and murders. In addition, every criminal proceeding is supervised by the prosecutor’s office and any willful change of classification by the police is impossible, the press department added.

Regardless of this explanation, Drucker will check how statistics indicators are created and presented, informed the Interior Ministry’s press department.

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