Over the years, government agencies have sought ways to combat crime. Our Criminal Justice System is in a state of crisis due to prisons being over crowded. It is better to prevent a crime than to punish the individual for a crime once it has affected more parties. It is evident with the number of crimes reported in the media, instead of reducing the number of crimes taking place, it is increasing. That itself shows the urgency nation’s attention on crime prevention.
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Research indicates that certain individuals in society are more prone follow and maintain a criminal career. Furthermore, there appears seems to be with an obvious pattern among the individuals who have been jailed for committing serious crimes. For example men from disadvantaged backgrounds, with disloyal personalities and poor impulse control are regarded as having high risk personality to commit crime. As a result, it is important that Sri Lankan Criminal Justice System recognizes these high risk individuals and implement certain preventative measures to discourage them from a criminal path.
3. Today it has become important more than ever to control these individuals who are seriously damaging the nations will. As indicated by research, there appears to be a strong link between the ‘seriousness of the act’ (ex, rape, armed robbery and murder etc.) committed by an individual and the number of times these individuals have come into contact with the Criminal Justice System. Therefore, it is easy to assume that the re-offending rates in Sri Lanka would be significantly higher. Hence, it is essential that the governing bodies work towards bringing down the rates of re-offending in Sri Lanka. With the help of modern technology this may become a more attainable goal.
4. To indicate the role and importance of technology to prevent crimes and through that maintain law and order in Sri Lanka
EXPLANATION ON CRIME
5. Crime could be defined as a breach of laws for which a country’s Criminal Justice System may ultimately enforce a guilty sentence. Crimes can be classified into felonies, misdemeanours and infraction.
a. A felony is considered to be the most serious type of crime and it includes the issues related to assault, murder, rape, robbery etc.
b. A Misdemeanours are less serious than felonies. It is therefore distinguished by the length or gravity of the punishment issued to the individual. These include simple assaults, Driving under the Influence of alcohol or drugs (more commonly known as DUI) and disorderly conduct in public.
c. Infractions are the least serious type of crime. It includes common traffic offences, breaching speed limits.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CRIME AND TECHNOLOGY
6. Advancement in technology appears to be a double edged sword as it has created a whole new spectrum of crime and this same technology helps the law enforcement combat, prevent to or capture these criminals. For example, in addition to dealing with crimes such as murder, robbery, rape law enforcement agencies are forced to deal with internet crimes such as internet hackers, internet stalkers, internet viruses and the use of the internet to cheat are the example of a few. On a positive aspect this same technology could be utilized to increase the power and range of the law enforcement agencies. For example, technology could be used to prevent certain type’s crime from happening to ultimately capturing these criminals who have committed the crime.
7. Surveillance videos, fingerprint technology and DNA evidence could also be used in a court of law to help send to prison and punish these individuals without relying solely on human witnesses. There were many experiences and so many stories where that human memory has had devastating influences on certain individuals who were wrongly confined. On a positive note, most of these wrongly accused have since been released from confinement with the help of modern technology such as DNA evidence and fingerprint evidence.
WHAT ARE THE CRIMES IN SRI LANKA
8. According to the Sri Lankan Police website, during the year 2010 home invasions, theft and robbery, knife attacks, homicide attempts to commit suicide and grievous harm are among the crimes that predominately committed by the Sri Lankan population are probably indicative only of reported crime as culturally Sri Lankan’s are less likely to report personal crimes such as domestic assaults, rapes and childhood sexual assaults because of the disgrace attached to these crimes. For example, often people are either too afraid or too ashamed regarding the circumstances and therefore are less likely to seek help and support from authorities.
USE OF TECHNOLOGY TO CURB CRIMES IN SRI LANKA
AS AT PRESENT AND AREAS TO IMPROVE
9. Technology is already being used to obtain evidence and capture criminals. However, we do not use technology that much, to prevent crimes in comparison to post criminal activities. Law enforcement agencies rely heavily on fingerprinting technology and the Sri Lankan Criminal Justice System had recognizes these advancements in technology. For example, DNA, fingerprinting, through telephone call details, surveillance cameras, digital photos and videos are now recognized in a court of law.
10. Fingerprint technology has been used for more than a century and the FBI in America have used fingerprinting technology as far as 1924 in criminal investigations. Even though, Sri Lankan law enforcement agencies didn’t use fingerprinting technology that far back in time, but they have relied on this technology for the past few decades of time.
11. Fingerprinting technology is a relatively cheap and it is still considered to be one of the most reliable forms of evidence in a court of law. A person’s individual appearance may change with time, but it is impossible to change an individual’s fingerprint. That is the main motive for them to rely on this old technology this much.
12. As Sri Lanka is a developing country we are lack with many resources to use and same goes with expensive technology, even which are readily available to use in the first world nations. Fingerprinting technology is relatively low cost, therefore Sri Lanka doesn’t need to depend on foreign countries and we have the technology too. That compels us to use it more as it is readily available within the country.
13. Currently, the Sri Lankan law enforcement agencies are in the process of storing fingerprints of criminals who are recognised by the court of law and these fingerprints are stored in databases for easy access and for future reference. The government has recognised the importance of fingerprinting technology. As a result they are in the process of introducing National Identity cards that have an individuals thumb print coupled with other information to help minimise identity theft and for easy identification.
BIO METRIC TECHNOLOGY
14. DNA, infrared technology, face recognition are used widely in Western countries. These advanced technologies are used to help basically in preventing unauthorised access to sensitive information or restricted buildings and areas. At present Sri Lanka does not process the resources to use these mentioned technologies even though requirement highly exist.
15. However, DNA technology is used in Sri Lanka mainly to help identify individuals at a crime outlook. It has also been used in the past to confirm an individual’s identity. A highly publicised example where DNA was used was during the 2004 Tsunami to identify the biological parents of an infant as several families claimed the infant belonged to them.
16. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka lacks the financial resources to use them on a regular basis. Currently what practise is, after collecting and securing DNA evidence it is sent to a foreign country to obtain the results. This can often be very expensive and highly time consuming.
CLOSE CIRCUIT TELEVISION
17. Close Circuit Television or more commonly known as CCTV is relatively new in Sri Lanka. CCTV has the potential to help control criminal and disorderly behavior in community. Research conducted in this area states that CCTV cameras help prevent crime by increasing the chances of getting caught and by further obtaining the evidence required to convict these individuals. Further it would help monitor offender’s behaviors and patterns.
18. CCTV cameras may help citizens be cautionary through its presence. For example, research indicates that individuals are likely to be hesitant of committing a crimes commonly happening, such as shop-lifting when they are made aware that all their behaviors and actions are being monitored. Sri Lankan banks and money handling agencies use CCTV to help reduce bank robberies. If a robbery does take place, with its information security personals can activate their contingency plans in preventing robbery is been succeed and even filing so CCTV can then be used to gather evidence.
19. There are five disadvantages in using CCTV, for example it is costly and it can be time consuming to go through the surveillance tapes once a crime has been committed. However, a good surveillance system may help cut down the number of crimes committed. Furthermore, CCTV cameras will help law agencies recognize, catch and convict individuals. It would also help further because, if an individual is caught on camera then there would be no argument as to what is being done. It would become extremely difficult for their layers to argue or make excuses for their behaviors when caught in the action.
MOBILE POLICE VEHICLES
20. With the development of the communication, with in a matter of seconds, individuals can inform authorities about a crime, details relating to incidents, regarding a person or any other related issues through a phone. With the introduction of “mobile police vehicle system” use of that technological advantages have become very effective both for preventives and passive criminal counter actions.
21. It had been used in the past to combat terrorism, because of its rapid and effective accessibility. Same as that it will be effective provided with some improvements to the system.
USE OF MEDIA
22. Media plays a vital role in counter criminal activities. We have experienced during the war against the LTTE how effectively it can be used. There were occasions when suspected person’s photographs and details were flashed on the screen on televisions, almost immediately and sometimes within a day, the information reached the authorities through vigilant civilians.
23. With the use of media, the authorities could use the population of over 20 million citizens of Sri Lanka to help observe and then report if any criminal activities take place. As it is impossible for governing agencies to monitor everywhere due to the lack of man power and resources it will be an added advantage. Therefore media could be used to distribute current information to the public and authorities could then use information reported by the citizens.
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24. As mentioned previously, when it comes to personal crimes from a cultural perspective individuals are less likely to inform authorities. Television programmes such as ‘Thiththa Aththa’ and ‘Gahaniya’ use the media to encourage individuals to report and discuss these sensitive issues. On the opposite side of things, the same information that is used to help understand the circumstances of an incident, then it can be used by a criminal to cover his or her tracks.
DIFFICULTIES FACED IN USE OF TECHNOLOGY
25. According to recent data, Britain is monitored by 4 million Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras making them the most watched nation in the world. British governing body insists that the use of CCTV cameras should be viewed as being beneficial and protective. Sri Lanka does require a large amount of CCTV systems if it is to cover the required places effectively in entire country.
26. A very basic camera system may cost about Rs. 100,000. As it is very expensive, it prevents Sri Lanka from using the required number of CCTV cameras. This same cost factor affects the use of other effective technologies such as use of DNA or Bio metric technology.
LACK WITH KNOWLEDGE, EXPERTISE AND SKILL PERSONAL
27. Lack of skilled personals and professional knowledge has become another limiting factor in use of modern technology. Sri Lankan education system does not recognise the importance of technology in combating crime with the use of Bio metric technology.
28. There is a huge ‘brain-drain’ as most educated individuals in this area of expertise are likely to leave Sri Lanka for lack of employment. For example, even if these individuals have the knowledge, as Sri Lanka lacks the infrastructure, required equipment as well as the technology to maintain the level required to have a functioning Bio metric system. This then compels Sri Lanka to depend mainly on foreign technology and expertise.
KNOWLEDGE LAPSES AMONG THE CITIZENS
29. Sri Lanka is still a developing country. The ageing populations as well as the citizens in the rural areas in Sri Lanka are not aware of the available technology. For example, our grandparents would not be comfortable using a mobile phone. Even though the younger generation is aware of the benefits computers offer, in comparison to India, Sri Lanka’s IT literacy rate is comparatively low.
30. Another complication arises in trying to introduce National Identity cards with the thumb print. Even if this technology was introduced, citizens need to be made aware of the basic functions and the methods to use them.
LACKS IN INFRASTRUCTURES FACILITIES AND EQUIPMENT
31. Infrastructure requirement for sensitive scientific subject like bio metric or commonly known as DNA are not available in the island, for that matter we are totally depended on other countries. This is leading to have more issues with time factor, economic factor and therefore tendency of using these technologies will always with some limitations.
32. Not only the infrastructure, more importantly we do not even have the required equipments. For example we are in a process of introducing an identity card with finger print and with many other details. But to achieve the purpose those authority that are going to check the identity on the ground must be equipped with required mechanism to use the technology. If not having all required data, if those authorities happened to go with manual identification the entire purpose cannot be achieved.
33. As discussed above, the level of IT literacy is relatively low in Sri Lanka. It would be extremely expensive to train individuals from the beginning and it would also be very time consuming.
34. Training would only be beneficial if the individual chosen is able to understand and remember what is expected of them. However, at the moment it is important to recognize individuals with some basic knowledge and interest in computers. This will help eliminate individuals unsuitable for the training programs.
35. As same as any other field influence of the technology is a factor which is unavoidable for both crime and counter criminal activities. It is well understood that it is better to prevent a crime than to punish the individual for a crime once it has affected more parties. But the available technology that, which we are equipped with is been basically used for post criminal activities. However as at today there is urgency in use of technology for preventive mashers too. Because we are with enough details on that, certain individuals in society are more prone follow and maintain a criminal career. Furthermore, there appears seems to be with an obvious pattern among the individuals who have been jailed for committing serious crimes.
36. Fingerprint technology, DNA or bio metric technology, Circuit Television or more commonly known as CCTV and mobile police vehicle system are used in Sri Lanka in counter criminal activities with many difficulties. Media also plays a vital role in counter criminal activities and again it is a double edged weapon which plays negative role too.
37. Sri Lanka is a developing nation who has many difficulties in case of economy. There for the cost factor is being recognized as the main barrier in using technology against crime. Lack of skilled personals and professional knowledge, lack the infrastructure, lack equipment as well as the technology, training issues are the other difficulties faced by the authorities.
38. Having being identified the areas where, more attention of the authority is highly essential now we have to up lift the awareness of the society to get the proper use of technology in order to achieve our ultimate aim by maintaining countries’ low and order.
39. Sri Lanka is a developing nation. Therefore, we only have access to limited resources. Hence, it becomes important to identify the requirements to prevent crime. It is true that justice cannot be determined by Rupees and cents, however, any changes to the system must be considered with concern for its cost effectiveness. For example, even if certain technologies have been used successfully in Western Countries, it does not necessarily mean that the same technology would be appropriate to use in Sri Lanka.
40. As average citizens may not be aware of the technology available, it may help to have a national wide education programme through the use of media and many other means. This has to be done before introducing any technology which may lead to confusion among the citizens.
41. At the school level children are to be taught about technology and the benefits of computers as we need to train the next generation. In turn this knowledge of the children can be used to educate their families on the same aspect.
42. Sri Lanka needs to enhance its databases. It would be beneficial to recognize and train individuals in computing skills. These individuals could then be used to help collect the most relevant data and help store them accurately for future references.
43. On the other hand the governing body needs an eliminating programme to recognize potential individual that would be of value to them in the future after the training is completed. It is important to realize that as we lack the skill levels and the resources to train these individuals, the governing agencies to need help from foreign countries. The initial cost would expensive but in the long run it would benefit Sri Lanka
44. New technology that such as CCTV is likely to become an essential tool when controlling criminals and their behaviors in time to come. However, it is important that law agencies do not only rely on CCTV cameras to attain this goal. For example, if the police force is aware that a certain area has CCTV cameras installed, they are less likely to frequent that particular area. If an individual gets assaulted in an area that has CCTV, the police may not be able to get to that area in time to help the victim. It is true that, the police could use the video to help catch the criminal after the crime has been committed but unfortunately, this may be of little consolidation for the already victimized individual.
45. If we were to increase the number of patrol cars used, we should focus on the crime-ridden areas. This would help maximize the man power and resources used. It may also help if the patrol cars have access to a cellular phone. These vehicles are to be equipped with GPS to gain more advance passion over counter parties. This way, if a crime is reported, the dispatch centre would then be able to direct the closest patrol car to the area.
46. In response to personal crimes such as rape and domestic assault, media could be used to reach out the average citizen’s still living in the rural areas. It might help to encourage the younger generations to reach out to their elders regarding this matter. If people are made aware that these issues could be resolved with help, more victims may come forward without worrying about being made ridiculed by their peers. It may also help to start these educational policies at school levels and encourage children to speak to their parents and relations. This may then promote gender and social equality in Sri Lanka.
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