The good news shared by the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) recently was that the overall crime rate in Bhutan showed a decrease, in every crime category. However, a disturbing trend in the police records show that the youth-related crime is on the rise.
Much of crime committed by the youth includes possession and use of illegal drugs, gang fights, early marriage, burglary, battery, etc. Although the youth delinquency rate is high in urban areas, however, there are also an increasing number of crimes committed by the youth in rural areas.
Upon further analysis of the youth crime issue, it was found that many of the youth commit such crimes due to peer pressure, inadequate family and educational support, under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and due to unemployment issues.
In rural areas, alcoholism and early marriage are some of the issues being recorded. A few local government heads or Gups, say the exposure to modern ways of life is negatively impacting the youth in rural areas. They pointed out that the crime rate rises during the summer and winter vacation months as many youth gather in the villages.
Gup Kinga of Shaba Gewog in Paro said many of the youth of today tend to abuse drugs, engage in gang fights, robbery and other crimes.
He said, “My Gewog is near town, and therefore, youth-related problem does arise and it becomes difficult to control them. They form gangs and rob and get into drugs.”
He said the youth are less inclined to help their parents at home. Most of them lack the monetary means of starting a business of their own, and therefore, end up as a disillusioned youth. “The main causes of getting into such crime are that they are jobless and bored of being at home,” Gup Kinga added.
Gup Pema Wangchuk of Tendruk Gewog under Samtse said there are youth-related issues in his Gewog, such as abuse and possession of drugs and gang fight cases.
“Crime arises mostly during the winter because every youth gathers in village for their vacation. The Police (station) is 24 km from our gewog, therefore, we have a tough time in handling such issues.” He added that the gewog has had to form a community watch group to patrol the gewog from time to time.
“If the case is minor, we solve it within the community, but if it is a serious issue then we hand over the person to the police. Our Gewog saw success in cutting down the crime when compared to the last past years,” Gup Pema Wangchuk added.
Similarly, Gup Tandin Pema of Maedwang Gewog under Thimphu Dzongkhag said that there is no way of telling who the troublesome youth are that enter the Gewog as it is just 17 km away from Thimphu City.
He said, “There are not much issues related to youth in our Gewog, but few cases of gang fights were reported in 2008, 2009 and 2010.” He said the Community Police Center in Khasadrapchu has helped to curb the gang fight issues.
Gup of Dewathang Gewog under Samdrupjongkhar, Sangay Pelzang, said that the gewog sees some youth-related issues due to college and various schools located in the vicinity.
“The main problem arises due to those youths addicted to drugs. They somehow influence the others as well.”
Villages with low youth population reported having less youth-related crime. The few youth who remain in the village are those that cannot afford to go for further studies and now help out with the farm work.
As for measures required for bringing down the youth crime rate in rural areas, the Gups suggested that parents have to held responsible first, and second it should be responsibility of the respective schools and teachers to give advice and counseling to the children.
They also said that children should not be the only ones receiving counseling on such issues, but parents and teachers must also receive such counseling whereby they can help to guide their child in a right way.
“Every individual should be responsible, they should know the dos and don’ts of life,” a Gup said.
In addition, the local government shared their gratitude to RBP for helping to control the crime rate in rural areas. “They work hard for the community. They do patrolling around the village, and we look for the same support from the RBP,” another Gup said.
Chief of Police, Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel, said that RBP has introduced the Mobile Community Policing (MCP) in rural areas to curb youth-related crimes.
“The purpose of introducing MCP is to reach, even remote areas, so that we can take our services to the doorsteps of every village,” said Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel, adding that MCP has been established in 55 gewogs so far, with the target being 75 gewogs.
MCP usually involves a group of five policemen that work closely with the village community. The main objective is to sensitize the public in rural areas on crime.
“Basically making our services available and within the reach of every doorstep in rural areas, itself, is tackling such issues in the rural areas,” he added.
This article was made possible due to support from the Department of Information and Media