Tallinners and police chief clash over survey

  • 2002-04-04
  • Wire reports

The newly-appointed chief of the Tallinn police, Kalle Laanet, claims he feels as safe in the capital city as on the quiet island of Saaremaa where he comes from. But, in reply to mounting criticism the capital is not safe enough, he has promised to cut police officers' paperwork and send them on the beat more often.

The results of a poll released this week show that almost half of the respondents say they or people close to them have fallen victim to crime during the last 12 months. Some 58 percent turned to the police.

In Tallinners' opinion, the suburbs of Nomme and Pirita are the safest areas of the capital, whereas Lasnamae and North Tallinn are the least safe.

An abundance of drug addicts, drunks and gangs of youths are felt by many as creating the most insecurity.

Only 3 percent of Tallinners find the actions of the police fully satisfactory and 39 percent satisfactory.

People's greatest crime-related concern is the lack of results of police work.

Only 21 percent of residents in the capital city, according to the survey, have ever encountered their local officer. At the same time, 41 percent of respondents thought police officers play an important role in the safety of the area, and 61 percent said they'd like to see more cops in their part of the city.

Aare Allik, a Tallinn police chief inspector, confirmed that police officers will have less paperwork to do from now on. Criminal cases will as a rule be taken off their hands, he said.

He added that this shouldn't cause any grumbles among officers, something Laanet agreed with.

"It has to be understood that the police are for the people, not the people for the police," he stated.

In the survey, Tallinners consider the fight against drug-related crime and crime prevention far more important jobs for the police than supervising traffic.

In Laanet's words, safety has to be aligned with people's wishes, but this doesn't mean traffic control will disappear.

He is also of the opinion that prevention cannot be laid solely on the police force, but must rather be carried out in cooperation with other institutions and non-governmental organizations.

More than 5,000 people were interviewed in the poll, with questionnaires distributed through schools, municipal institutions and NGOs, as well as in the Parliament.