In police statistical bulletins we often find data on solved crimes.
The presented data usually gives an impression that most of the crimes committed in the country are solved, the criminals receive a deserved punishment, and the rights of the victims are restored. In short, justice prevails.
In reality, however, in a broad sense, the solved crimes are several times less than the police statistics show.
For example, according to the 2018 Annual Police Summary Report: “according to specific types of crimes, the overall picture of the efficiency of solving crimes is as follows: murders – 74.6%, brigandage – 66.7%, vehicle hijacking – 93.4%, murder attempts – 74.4%, cases of intentional harm to health – 87.0%, including severe cases – 71.2%, rape and attempted rape – 72.7%, violation of traffic rules – 88.9%,those including death cases- 73.0%, hooliganism- 59.2%, robbery – 57.1%, theft – 39.6%, including burglary – 20.6%, fraud – 66.0%, cases of embezzlement or waste – 61.8%, etc.”
As we mentioned, the summary reports give an impression that the vast majority of crimes recorded in the republic are solved. However, in reality, a small part of those “detected” crimes are sent to the court with an indictment, that is, the cases when the person who committed the crime does not stand before the court are much more frequent.
Leaving aside the types of crimes when, for various reasons, not all cases are recorded (beating, domestic violence, rape, etc.), we will try to see what the picture is like with the crimes of which all (or almost all) cases are recorded.
Let’s take, for example, the statistics of thefts.
According to the police, 46,284 cases of theft were recorded in Armenia in the last 5 years alone, and 18,968 of which have been solved. In other words, at least 40 percent of theft cases are solved.
However, most of these solved theft cases never reach court, and the perpetrators do not face the punishment prescribed by law.
According to the data received from the police, out of 18,968 “detected” theft cases, 4,944 were sent to court with an indictment. In other words, only 1 out of 4 “identified thieves” (26%) stand before the court.
It turns out that according to the police, 40 percent of thefts are considered to be solved, but in reality, only one case out of every 9 thefts recorded in Armenia ends up in court.
In other words, there are thousands of thefts that are considered “solved” but neither the thief is caught nor the stolen goods are found.
And if in the case of thefts, such a low rate can be partially conditioned by the compensation of the material damage before the trial or by the dismissal of the criminal case as a result of the reconciliation with the victim, the same cannot be said about the murder cases.
The picture is more vivid in the case of murders.
According to the police, of the 239 murders committed in Armenia in the last 5 years, 178 or about 75 percent weresolved. Meanwhile, only 64 of the 178 murder cases that have been detected have reached the court.
Thus, according to the police, the rate of solved murder cases in the last 5 years alone is 75 percent, while only 27 percent of the cases have reached the court. In other words, only 1 out of 4 people who committed a murder stand before the court.
The same picture is also in the case of the statistics of the crime of inflicting severe and moderate bodily injuries.
Why is this the case?
Usually, by saying solve a case, we mean finding the person who committed the crime and bringing that person before the court, through which they receive the punishment prescribed by the law.
However, the General Prosecutor’s Office has its own definition of crime solution.
“The crime is considered to be solved when a criminal prosecution is initiated against a person on the basis of the suspicion of committing a crime.”
In other words, if the police suspect a person of committing a crime within the framework of a criminal case and the person receives the status of a suspect or an accused, then the crime is considered to have been solved, even if that person was not found or was found, but the criminal prosecution against them was dropped the next day.
In other words, contrary to the public perception that a solved crime is when the criminal stands before the court, law enforcement officers insist that it is enough to have a suspect in the case and the case can be considered solved.
And even if the guilt of the suspect/accused is not proven as a result of the preliminary investigation and/or trial, the case will be listed among the solved cases and thus become statistical data.
It turns out that the statistics provided by the police do not reflect the true picture of the effectiveness of the fight against crime.
To put it simply, the suspects and the accused are many, the number of punished is less, but the case is considered solved.