Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) registered a total of 3,499 criminal cases in 2022. The top five crimes reported in 2022 are offence of substance abuse, battery, larceny, burglary and deceptive practice. Battery recorded the highest with 778 cases followed by offence of substance abuse with 604 cases.
Larceny contributed 308 cases, burglary 251 cases and deceptive practice 1,541 cases in the year. Dzongkhag wise, as the trend goes, Thimphu recorded the highest crime rate with 1,462 cases followed by Chukha with 305 cases.
Paro came in the third highest with 262 cases. Gasa, which usually stays at the bottom with only few cases in a year, however, in 2022, Gasa saw 26 cases. Of the total registered cases in the year, 714 cases were charge sheeted to court, 320 cases forwarded to Office of Attorney General and 300 cases were forwarded to BNCA.
RBP has 1,433 pending cases. RBP arrested 4,628 suspects including 499 women. From the total arrests made in the year, 1,094 suspects were convicted, of which 112 are female suspects. Rape, sexual offences, voluntary and involuntary manslaughter are other reported cases.
An official from RBP said that case of substance abuse has become a national issue, wherein if RBP does not proactively monitor the issue, there won’t be many people who would come and put a complaint unlike other cases.
Age wise, he said that youth (30 years and below) stand highest who are arrested for abusing substance abuse. The youth, unlike the adults, have no isolated place to sit and abuse the drugs, and are often caught.
He said, “Pharmaceutical drugs do not have a boundary nor do they have a jurisdiction. Abusing of tobacco products is the initial stage of abusing. Once they get used to it, they then shift their choice to substance abuse. Tobacco products are the medium of abusing drugs.”
Display and advertisement of tobacco products are not allowed, yet shopkeepers do that, he said, adding that monitoring those is one challenge given lack of resources and shortage of manpower. Moreover, not being able to control public smoking is another challenge.
Availability of solvent drugs like thinner, dendrite and dilute is one issue, wherein monitoring is challenging. They can sale with a valid trade license but they cannot sell to minors.
“Today’s abuser can be tomorrow’s potential traffickers. Having too much of abusers can increase the demand of controlled substances. When that is the case, the chance of increase in the supply side is obvious. Therefore, it is must to address and tackle the abusers,” he added.
Knowing the demand, he said that farmers are into harvesting the cannabis, as that is easy way of making money. They chose harvesting cannabis derivatives over cultivation of crops because they know the value of it.
Knowing the importance of tackling the abusers, at the earliest, RBP is undertaking various measures to intervene. They are carrying out intensive targeted patrolling, they gather information as that is only, they way to get hold of offences related to substance abuse.
In addition, they conduct regular and random check-post, border ports and highway checking using canine and police personnel. They raid and investigate if need be. Moreover, they visit the vulnerable group, as and when needed.
He said, “We do a crime mapping according to which we deploy our patrolling team. Supply targets a huge group, and when demand and supply meets, the situation becomes the worst. Thereby, we usually target such areas where we see the possibility of such happening.”
For now, offences related to substance abuse are male dominated, as women have more reservation, restriction and responsibilities.
The source, in addition said that the police alone cannot curb down on such crimes. Parents and the society, in general, should take equal responsibilities, as everything starts from home.