| Siti Hajar |
THE local rate of inflation over the past years is starting to take its toll on the Bruneian populace, especially individuals in the lower income group, with a number of those falling on hard times resorting to crime to supplement their livelihood.
During a seminar on social issues at the Centerpoint Hotel in Gadong yesterday, Haji Husaini bin Abdullah, the Acting Director of Social Services, said the prevalent rate of crime, including theft and smuggling,
is partially attributed to the high cost of living.
In an interview with the Bulletin, the Acting Director of Social Services said some of those involved in such criminal activities, including the smuggling of illicit goods that sell high on the black market, include family men and women, most of whom have large families to feed.
“Previously a hundred dollars would be enough to supply a family with enough to care for five or six children, but now even buying from the local wet market has become expensive,” he said, adding that if a family has too many mouths to feed, the same amount today was no longer adequate.
“For many, crime is an easy way out especially when they cannot find anything else despite both husband and wife earning separate incomes,” he said.
According to statistics provided by the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF), incidences of theft are still the most prevalent in Brunei – in 2010, there were 1,650 cases compared to 2,755 in 2013. Between January and August 2014, there were 1,924 cases.
However, it was pointed out that there were other economic factors contributing to this social problem such as unemployment and not having the right skills to manage finances, particularly those who spend beyond their means.
In another working paper delivered by Senior Prison Counsellor Pengiran Omar bin Pengiran Haji Othman from the Prisons Department, it was noted that the majority of the country’s 377 inmates as of 2013 are locals and permanent residents comprising both men and women.
Apart from offences such as drug abuse, fraud and traffic offences, the common types of crimes that both genders commit are theft, breaking and entering as well as customs felonies.
The recidivism rate among locals averages at 36 per cent over three years since 2011.
A recent local research published in 2010 cited that re-offenders find their way back into the system, among others, due to the lack of employment opportunities upon their release followed with the lack of familial support and not having a permanent residence.