Query: In The Namibian newspaper of Friday, 13th November 2015, on page 11, Opinions-Editorials, an article titled “Police crime reports must not be selective” authored by the Editor was published, equally, Namibian Sun newspaper of Wednesday, 11 November 2015’s front page “Robbery cripples business sector”.
Response: The Namibian Police Force has taken note of the allegations made in the article and thus put it on record that we vehemently deny the allegation. The article is subjective and does not describe or relate to any specific incident wherein the Namibian Police Force withheld information on crime; neither does the author display any statistics or figures, which depict or display crimes recorded by the police.
The Namibian Police Force upholds and respects the right of the public to access information, which includes the mass media, i.e newspaper, radio and television, and hence would not deliberately or for any other purpose withhold relevant crime-related information or under-report on the extent of crime in Namibia.
It is common knowledge and we know and understand that policing issues attract significant media attention and that the media provide a powerful conduit to the Namibian Police Force in disseminating key information and messages to the public, thus we regard the media as strategic partners in the fight against crime.
In order to ensure that there is a constant flow of crime-related information between the media and the police – besides the Public Relations Division which is entrusted with co-coordinating liaison between the public and the police – the Inspector General of the Police Lt-General Sebastian Ndeitunga initiated a weekly national crime press briefing, which is held every Sunday at 14h00, whereto all media houses and Practitioners are invited to be briefed about all serious crime incidents recorded across the whole country over the weekend.
During these briefings the media are at liberty to request statistics, or ask questions or request information from the police on any crime incident or matter of interest to them. Hence, in the event that the crime report presented and the Sunday crime briefing are found to be not inclusive of all regional crime reports, the media is always informed of such, and provision is made to provide the outstanding reports as soon as they became available; and we do present same to the media when it becomes available.
To our dismay we have learned that not all the media practitioners have fully exploited this opportunity, as some media houses do not even attend, nor do they send any representative.
However, it should be noted that, although the Police Force is a public institution, and the public has a right to information, the police also have a corresponding obligation to protect and respect the dignity and privacy of accused persons and the victims of crime and their families, including reserving or retaining information if such will jeopardise the investigation of any crimes.
The Namibian Police Force, therefore, would like to assure the public that we will always do our utmost best to ensure that we protect the life and property of all citizens and maintain law and order, without compromising on the rights of the public to be informed and appraised about the extent of crime in the country.
Chief Inspector Kaunapawa Shikwambi, head of media relations in the Ministry of Safety and Security, E-Mail: Kaunapawa.Shikwambi@nampol.gov.na