One-third of the cases filed with 660 police stations in June involved drug-related charges. There has also been an uptick in incidents of violence against women, rape and various other domestic crimes in recent times.
According to the Police Headquarters, 18,006 cases were recorded at police stations across the country in January, 17,472 in February, 17,150 in March, 9,098 in April, 11,500 in May and 13,192 in June.
Bangladesh confirmed its first COVID-19 case on Mar 8. A nationwide lockdown was imposed on Mar 26 amid a surge in infections. The government phased the country out of lockdown by reopening offices and resuming public transport services on a limited scale from May 31.
Police had to be on the frontline to enforce the lockdown, Mohammadpur Police Station OC Abdul Latif told bdnews24.com. As a result, regular police work was affected, he said.
"The pace of our daily work fell during the lockdown. It started to return to normal from July.”
The officer said the number of allegations of violence against women, rape and fighting has increased since the unwinding of the lockdown.
“There were fewer people on the streets during the lockdown. Almost all classes of people were forced to stay home. This had an effect on the crime rate. However, we did not make any compromise in our investigations of the important cases that were filed during this period. Criminals were also apprehended accordingly.”
From January to June, there had been 601 cases of rape, 107 deaths of women due to domestic abuse, 103 incidents of sexual harassment leading to nine suicides, and 680 child abuse cases across the country, according to Ain o Salish Kendra.
There were 98 rapes committed in January, 92 in February, 67 in March, 76 in April, 94 in May and 174 in June.
“Domestic violence has increased all over the world due to the current situation and Bangladesh is no exception to this. Many crimes were not reported to the police amid the pandemic,” said Prof Zia Rahman of the Department of Criminology at Dhaka University.
In June, 27 dacoity incidents, 79 robberies, 1,014 cases of violence against women, 206 cases of child abuse and 4,145 drug-related cases were registered in Bangladesh, according to police headquarters.
"There were fewer crimes committed during the lockdown as not many were outside. Now the situation is changing,” Sohail Rana, AIG (Media) at the police headquarters said.
The crime statistics handed out in a backward country like Bangladesh is ‘questionable,’ according to Zia Rahman.
"There is a link between crime and poverty. Many have lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the pandemic.”
Awareness should be increased, community policing should be strengthened and crime should be controlled through various societies, Zia said.