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Rangoon police force short on manpower

The Burmese Police Force, formed 50 years ago on 1 October 1964, celebrated its Golden Jubilee on Wednesday (PHOTO: DVB)

Rangoon’s police force has just over 5,000 officers, enforcing the law and dealing with the crime in a city of more than seven million people.

The ratio of population to police indicates that for every one police officer there are 1,365 persons, much higher than international standards

Rangoon Division Deputy Police Chief Myint Htwe pointed out the shortage of police officers during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Myanmar Police Force.

“Currently there are 5,538 police officers in Rangoon, each of whom is responsible for 1,365 people,” said the deputy police chief. He further highlighted the shortage of manpower in Rangoon police force by comparing the ratio to an international standard, which is ideally 400-to-one.

However, despite Rangoon’s shortcomings, it still fairs better than other cities and regions in Burma. In fact, Rangoon has 62 percent of the entire Burmese police force, leaving the remainder of the country with less than 3,400 officers to patrol more than 40 million people in an area – at 676,578 km2, a little larger than France – a country not densely populated compared to its neighbours.

Myint Htwe pointed out that he believes there has been an increase in public cooperation and acceptance of the police force, ever since the EU imparted training to the police force in Burma earlier in February.

The deputy chief said that, “We have found more acceptance from the people.” He added that, “More often than not, when people need help, they are now calling 199 or their local police station.”

In stating how the Burmese police force has incorporated the training into their system, the deputy chief noted that the number of patrols has increased across the city. Furthermore, he said, police are implementing preventive measures and undertaking more thorough investigations before a case is presented in court.

As of September 2014, police logs recorded 340 serious criminal cases along with 1,468 other cases of crime in Rangoon Division. It also listed 1,800 preventive cases of arrest.

Earlier in September, the Asia Human Rights Commission notified the United Nations about the widespread use of torture by the Burmese police. The police force has, in the past, received flak for arresting and torturing innocent civilians and framing them with crimes.

The Burmese Police Force was formed 50 years ago on 1 October 1964. On Wednesday, “Golden Jubilee” events were held in Naypyidaw and Rangoon to mark the occasion.