As of August 2022, the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) has apprehended 462 youths involved in criminal offences. Of the total apprehended youths, 178 are students of which 9 are female students.
Likewise, in 2021, RBP apprehended 689 youths of which 186 were students (13 female) and 503 are youths (39 female). In 2020, 689 youths were arrested of which 162 are students (5 female) and 527 are youths (37 female).
In total, in 4 years, from 2019 to August 2022, there were 2,499 youths apprehended of which 680 are students (33 female students).
Some of the common crimes committed by the youth/students are abusing drugs, drinking, battery, possession of weapons, burglary and relationship issues. RBP found the reason behind their fights to be over petty matters, such as staring at each other or for bumping onto each other. The other reasons cited are jealousy, being high on drugs and alcohol, etc.
It was learnt that there is a rampant movement of youths including students in town during party nights and otherwise.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief of Police, Crime and Operation, Colonel Passang Dorji said that things are now getting out of control, which is why they started getting hard on those who commit the crimes. They will not be any exception or excuses, irrespective of age, if a suspect is a student.
He said, “Until now, we have been lenient on students, given various reasons and may be this could be one reason on why the crime involving students are increasing. But now, if we catch them, there won’t be any excuses and will be prosecuted as per the law. No bail will also be granted.”
Police have been considerate until now because if a student commits a crime and gets prosecuted then his school record would be ruined, and for that matter his/her No Objection Certificate (NOC) would be impacted.
However, with increase in number of cases involving students, they will no more be considerate and they would fixed if caught committing a crime, he said, it is one way to curb down the youth crime.
He further said that, “It is not the sole responsibility of the police to curb down on such crimes. Parents and individual, themselves, must share equal responsibility in eliminating such crimes. If they, themselves, are not responsible, who are we to be considerate every time?”
For now, youths do not fear the law, and it is the responsibility of the police to make them fall in line with the law. What is happening today is, parents react only when their children reach police station, and by then, it would be too late, he added.
He further said that it is also responsibility of the teachers, as the students are under their supervision in the schools. Both parents and teachers should provide their children with proper guidance because once they commit the crime, it would be difficult to correct them.
“We are here to implement the law. There are many stakeholders who can play a better role in addressing the issue before it gets out of hand. We lack coordination among the stakeholders, and that is why there are lapses at every point. We need to address that if we are to curb down the youth crime,” he added.
Youth issue is a social issue, and it has to be dealt by all the stakeholders. Other contributing factor to youth crime can be availability of mobile phones. They learn things through mobile phones, and that is how they get onto drugs and alcohol. There is high chance of youths involved in cybercrimes, he said.
The police, in collaboration with dzongkhag administration and school management, are in the process of sensitizing sector heads, school principals and police officers. Through the sensitization program, it is expected to sensitize all the students across the country.
Colonel Passang Dorji said, “This is a concern, and we are hopeful that everyone would take the responsibility and help us in addressing this issue because we cannot do this alone.”