The Yomiuri ShimbunTo protect the lives and assets of the people, it is indispensable to implement measures against crime in accordance with changes in social circumstances.
This year’s White Paper on Police includes a section devoted to a review of the Heisei era and a future outlook, in which it analyzes the state of affairs in crimes committed over the past 30 years while also outlining problems to be tackled in the future.
In the middle of the Heisei era, there was a sharp increase in thefts and robberies, and the number of criminal offenses committed reached the worst levels in the postwar period. Frequent occurrences of traffic accidents and cases of outrageous drunken driving also became an issue of public concern.
The spread of security cameras and alarm devices has sharply reduced criminal offenses. The number of snatch-and-run crimes committed last year was one-twenty-seventh of the levels 17 years ago when the figure peaked. The number of deaths from traffic accidents has decreased to less than one-third of the levels in the early days of the Heisei era.
All this can be described as a good result achieved through anticrime measures and a campaign to stamp out drunken driving.
The white paper attaches importance to the task of preventing stalking, domestic violence and child abuse. All these crimes occur within the personal sphere, making it difficult for them to surface.
In the past, the police stood by the principle of nonintervention in civil matters. However, they changed the direction of their policy 20 years ago, notably with a stalking-murder incident in the city of Okegawa, Saitama Prefecture, which was a turning point. The police started actively responding to problems in families and between couples. Despite an increase in the number of cases in which consultations are sought about such problems, the present situation is that victims do not receive enough help.
Prepare for cybercrime rise
Necessary measures include facilitating an environment in which women find it easy to report their suffering to the police by arranging for female police officers to handle such cases. Another measure is to secure places where victims can be advised to take refuge temporarily. Such efforts should be steadily promoted.
To detect child abuse cases in the early stages, the police should increase cooperation with child consultation centers and other pertinent institutions.
The white paper also refers to the damage caused by special fraud, which continues with a high level of frequency, describing the situation as “unpredictable.” To protect elderly people from suffering special fraud damage at a time when society is aging at an accelerated pace, it is important to analyze the methods used in such crimes and implement measures against them.
Seventy percent of people swindled trusted the perpetrators when they answered the phone. Before answering the phone, for example, one may be advised to use a phone’s built-in function capable of telling the caller that conversations will be recorded. Doing so will increase the possibility that perpetrators will become wary and give up on committing fraud.
This is also true for people who discover the calls made to them were “It’s me” scams. Half of them detected the fraud when they noticed callers’ voices sounded different from those of their family members. It is necessary for family members to keep in touch with one another on a daily basis.
In the Reiwa era, frequent occurrences of cybercrimes can be expected. In recent years, according to the white paper, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of offenses committed through unauthorized access, including a surreptitious glance at emails, as well as the illegal transfer of crypto assets (virtual currencies).
It is difficult to identify the perpetrators responsible for crimes committed on the internet, as they use overseas servers for illegal purposes, among other things. New computer viruses are also being created constantly. Investigative authorities should secure and produce personnel with professional expertise to improve their skills in analyzing digital information.