The POINTPULSE compared the policing data of the official institutions of Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Author: Maja Boričić
Montenegro still fails to cope with the gravest forms of crime although it has the largest number of police officers, prosecutors, and judges in the Western Balkans relative to a number of citizens and the highest paid police officers.
Montenegro in recent years had twice as many killings than neighboring Serbia per 100.000 citizens, according to the Institute Alternative and the POINTPULSE network.
Drug-related crime in Montenegro has also been growing in recent years, and this country has the highest number of criminal acts of serious bodily injury relative to population size.
Montenegro has the least casualties in traffic, although it has the largest relative number of traffic accidents after Kosovo.
On the other hand, Montenegro has 300% more police officers, 200% more employed judges and 150% more prosecutors than the European average.
According to the data from 2014 to 2016, Montenegro had 796 police officers per 100,000 citizens.
The European standard is 211 police officers per 100.000 citizens.
The standard set by the United Nations is 300 police officers per 100.000 citizens.
According to the same data, for the employees of the Ministry of Interior (MoI), which includes the Police Directorate, about 85 million euros are dedicated from the budget annually, and Montenegro allocates the most money per employee.
Statistics say that every Montenegrin citizen gives 136 euros for MoI employees annually, while a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina gives 63 euros.
However, the war of criminal clans, which has been increasingly harsh in recent times, and many unsolved murders in which casual witnesses of mafia accounts also lost lives, make citizens feel less and less safe, even with the largest judicial and police apparatus.
In the last few years alone, almost 30 people have been killed in the clash of mafia clans in Montenegro, four of which are casual victims.
Quality is important, not quantity
According to all standards, the Montenegrin police are among the most numerous in Europe and wider, relative to the number of residents and the rate of crime, so the number of members in the security sector cannot be linked to an unstable security situation, said Dina Bajramspahić from the Institute Alternative, an civil society organization which is a part of the POINTPULSE regional network.
She said that the quality of employees is crucial.
“The police lack professional and trained personnel, with specialized knowledge in combating organized crime. Although the police and the MoI agree with this, they continue to persist in employing inexperienced personnel who have not even completed the Police Academy, which has a long-term impact on the quality of work,” she said.
Bajramspahić reminded that a fast-track contest is now underway for 60 high school students in order to be admitted to work in the police, although it does not need such staff.
However, speaking about the number of officers and the state of security, she stressed, the third question is whether a greater presence of police officers on the streets is needed and what is the connection between this and the security situation.
“According to the data provided by the MoI to the Interdepartmental Working Body of the Government, which is working to optimize the number of employees in public administration, 4.596 posts have been systematized in the Police, of which 4.139 have been filled, according to their reporting. However, another 85 plus 5 officers were also hired temporarily, and there are 280 unassigned police officers”, she said.
Bajramspahić said that according to official statistics the number of criminal offenses in Montenegro is in the constant and drastic drop, but that the structure of crime is changing, and the number of serious crimes is increasing.
The total number of crimes in 2005 was 9.579, while the number of criminal offenses in 2016 was 4.821.
“This literally means that crime has been halved in the last decade, that is, ’the amount’ and the volume of work of the police and prosecution decreases each year,” Bajramspahić said.
According to the MoI records in 2017, there were 12 murders, while there were twice as many in 2016 – 24.
Chief of Criminal Police Enes Baković said in May this year that six people were killed since the beginning of the year, and four cases were clarified. There were 13 attempted murders, and 11 were illuminated.
Authorities are trying to “iron out” the situation
Bajramspahić assessed that there has been a tendency recently to try to “normalize” the security situation by the competent state authorities with statistical data showing in absolute numbers that the situation in Montenegro is not worse than in the region, or that the numbers are falling relative to 90s, for example.
“That’s why the POINTPULSE network has made infographics and compiled data at the regional level, taking into account the population size as a relevant parameter”, she explained.
Although Serbia, she explains, has an average of about 50 murders and severe murders annually, and Montenegro much less; in comparison to the number of citizens, Montenegro has twice as many murders as Serbia. More specifically, in the last three years (2014-2016), Montenegro had 1,5 murders and Serbia 0,73 per 100 000 residents,” she said.
Bajramspahić pointed out that, when it comes to serious crime, it should not be forgotten that the statistics dehumanize the killed persons and turn them into numbers, which we should be careful about.
Slovenia and Croatia have fewer police officers
In Croatia in 2015 there were 12 times more crimes than in Montenegro – 59.233, and in Slovenia, 8 times more – 40.759.
In Slovenia, however, there are 380 police officers per 100.000 inhabitants, while that number in Croatia is 477. Currently, Montenegro has 677 police officers per 100.000 citizens.
The countries of Western Europe have between 100 and 200 employees per 100.000 citizens.
The Ministry of Interior Stays Silent
The MoI did not respond to the request by “Vijesti” to comment on a large number of employed police officers compared to the security situation in the country.
“Vijesti” also asked if, in their opinion, the number of employees should be reduced, how much capacity the Montenegrin police have to cope with a large number of murders, bombings, and other crimes, and what do they lack in that regard.
They were also asked to comment on the findings of the report which show twice as many murders in Montenegro than in Serbia relative to the population size, and that in the recent year’s drug-related crime has grown.
Translation: Olga Boškov