Crime saw significant decreases in most indicators last year, Minister of Interior Gabriel Oprea told Monday’s meeting occasioned by the unveiling of the Ministry of the Interior’s (MAI) 2014 activity report.
“Crime, in general, saw significant decreases in most indicators and the most important fact is that these decreases were recorded in terms of the felonies citizens are most exposed to,” said Oprea.
According to him, street crime recorded in 2014 the lowest level in the last nine years. “I am speaking about violent crimes in the street, such as robberies or assaults,” said Oprea, quoted by Agerpres.
He added that thefts were down 8 per cent in 2014, to their lowest in the past five years.Countryside crime was down to its lowest in the past six years.
Unrelated, he said the most ambitious plan was started off to replace the car fleet of MAI by purchasing utility vehicles for operative missions, given that almost 80 per cent of the existing motor vehicles were more than a decade old.
He mentioned that securing a high standard of logistic endowment for the ministry’s departments continues to be a priority in the period immediately ahead.
“For the next financial framework that runs to 2020, 140 projects worth in excess of 700 million euros have been defined in a first stage, given that in 2014 the approved budget for projects financed from European grants was of 35.9 million euros and saw an implementation rate of 96.5 per cent,” said Oprea.
He also said that in 2014, the MAI’s emergency departments saved more than 5,600 lives and protected assets worth nearly RON 2.33 billion.
“The departments of the Interior Ministry contributed to a surge in the number of economic and financial crime reporting. We are talking about a 72-per cent rise in reporting from 2013. As far as the prevention of and fight against tax evasion are concerned, 15.395 cases were solved, with 2,703 presumed offenders sent to court, while as far as smuggling and customs crime are concerned, assets worth nearly RON 166 million were seized for confiscation,” said Oprea.
As far as organised crime is concerned, MAI disbanded 237 crime rings and sent to court 1,995 people, according to Oprea.
Kovesi: MAI workers’ connections with local politicians, vulnerability of the system
The Chief-Prosecutor of the National Anti-corruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi, warned Interior Ministry employees as well as her own subordinates about the danger coming from their connections with politicians and businesspeople. Such relationships – Kovesi said during the MAI work report meeting – led to a multiplication of judicial cases where officers and even senior Ministry officials were placed under criminal investigation last year.
Kovesi appreciated the performance of MAI police forces and said that, without their support, the prosecutors would have not been able to obtain the results of 2014.
‘I believe it is important for me to say that we are institutions with common interests and we need to make sure we trust each other’, Kovesi said.
The DNA head also reviewed the vulnerabilities of the two institutions.
‘It is important to identify together the vulnerabilities of our respective institutions. One common vulnerability of MAI and DNA is the correctness and integrity of justice system and national defence workers.
In the course of our investigations, we have been able to realise that the number of persons in lead positions in the two respective structures who are suspected of corruption went up in 2014. For that reason, it is important to also pin-point the vulnerabilities leading to such situations. One such vulnerability that we have identified are the connections between the MAI workers and local politicians and businesspeople, Kovesi said.
The anti-corruption official also pointed out that another justice system vulnerability was the recovery of damages. Kovesi said that, the previous year, DNA had frozen assets worth over EUR 330 M.
‘The number of denunciations made to DNA rose by over 50% last year, and that also suggests a rise of confidence people have in our institution’, was Kovesi’s conclusion.
President Iohannis: People expect you to be models of good conduct, fairness
President Klaus Iohannis said on Monday, at the Ministry of the Interior’s 2014 activity report presentation, that those who enforce the law should be aware that there are expectations from them to be role models of good conduct and fairness.
“Please, be aware that people look at you and expect you to be role models of good conduct and fairness in public service. I wish that all those who enforce the law be beyond any suspicion, free from any conditioning and above any interest of groups or particular ones, from the economic milieu or any other,” said Iohannis.
The geopolitical context in the region calls for, according to the President, actions and measures to which law-enforcing staff are important part of. He said that the emergence of a hybrid war, the existence of some asymmetric and frozen conflicts, the border-changing tendencies, the violation of some international law rules can be sources of insecurity and crime export to European countries, especially to Romania.
“A state that is implementing its own laws and commitments derived from treaties, conventions and international agreements to which it is part of will be respected by its citizens and foreign partners. I will permanently make sure that the commitments assumed by Romania through the EU’s acquis be accurately observed,” said Iohannis.
The Head of State pointed out that “the idea that nobody is above the law has to be firmly placed at the basis of the activity of the ministry and of its components.”
“I trust the ministry cadres’ capacity to live up to the requirements and missions entrusted to them, that they will actively contribute to consolidating the rule of law principles and of implementing, in the best conditions, the new criminal legislation, steps needed in order to finalize Romania’s Schengen accession process.”
He pointed out that another priority action direction in 2015 must be the fight against corruption with impact on good governance, the institutional capacity of the state and affecting Romania’s foreign credibility. Also, the optimization of the National Management System of Emergencies, as part of the National Security System, is a priority for the Ministry of the Interior, the head of state added.
President Iohannis mentioned that, in terms of the short-term perspective, the country’s National Defence Strategy that he will unveil in Parliament, will be a basis for shaping the new Public Order Strategy, which must be developed also in compliance with the EU’s Internal Security Strategy.
Finally, he thanked the Ministry of the Interior staff for being examples of conduct, courage and responsibility, and congratulated them for the results recorded in 2014.
PM Ponta: Violent crimes, Police’s utmost priority
“Romania is a safe country as far as the actions of the Interior Ministry (MAI) go, and MAI’s 2014 activity reports confirms a positive trend”, Prime Minister Victor Ponta told the meeting on Monday where the 2014 activity report of the MAI was released.
“Let me congratulate you on your 2014 results; first of all, because Romania is a safe country. To me, not just as the prime minister, but also as a citizen of this country, safety is by far an utmost priority. I want to know that I can safely send my kids to school, that our parents are safe in the streets, that we are safe inside our homes and in public places. And that is your main job. You did it very well in 2014, and I want to thank you for that,” said Ponta.
Ponta urged the MAI departments to focus their job on preventing and fighting against crime, especially against violent crime.
“I am using all opportunities when I attend certain events, activity report releases of the MAI, to call on you to please use all your powers and efforts particularly to fight against violent crime. So that you know, homicides, rape, mugging, battling of any kind, although not covered by the media, are the offences that scare the common citizen the most. And your part in that, more than the part of a prosecutor, of justice, is the most important. I do not get tired of asking you any time I can to take more efficient measures so that all these offences may be first of all prevented. What I mean here is particularly violence in schools, violence in public places, all that should be prevented first of all. And when it does happen, because it inevitably does, the same as in any other countries, you should deploy all efforts for punishment to be swift and very tough. From this perspective, I repeat that 2014, as also reflected in your activity report, was a year that showed a positive trend. But, as you know well, each day of the year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week you have to deal with such phenomena, and I expect you to live up to the society’s expectations,” said Ponta.
“Take efficient measures in order for these things to be prevented in particular, and when they do happen to exert all efforts in order for the sanctions to be swift and very hard. I want to assure you that the important things we have achieved in recent years will not stop. Even though I am a politician, which is bad by definition, I worked closely with you and we will continue to work together. I thank Mr. Oprea, I have confidence in his activity. He has the chance of having a stable team that knows how to do its job,” Victor Ponta said.
He thanked all the heads of MAI structures one by one and expressed his hope that through the efforts of Klaus Iohannis and of the Government, Romania will enter the Schengen Area because it is a secure country.