CHINA / National

China's murder rates decrease as arrests jump
(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-17 08:36

China's homicide rate dropped last year while police arrested a higher percentage of killers, the Ministry of Public Security reported at a Beijing news conference yesterday.

The improving figures were the result of a nationwide campaign to prevent homicides and raise the clearance rate for those that do occur, authorities said.

Last year, 31,000 homicide cases were reported in China, down 3,000 from the year before, according to He Ting, director in the ministry's criminal investigation bureau.

Among those cases were 20,000 murders, a decrease of 5,000.

China defines a murder as the intentional taking of a human life. Homicides represent a much larger category which includes deaths that occur as a secondary result of rapes, kidnaping, robberies and other crimes.

More than 60 percent of the country's homicides stemmed from marriage problems, disputes among neighbors and intoxication-related quarrels, the ministry said.

Public security authorities across the country managed to solve 89.6 percent of all homicide cases, exceeding the rates in Britain, 87 percent, and the United States, 63 percent, and coming close to those in Japan and South Korea, the countries with the highest solution rates, He said.

Among the homicides, police cracked 87.2 percent of the murder cases last year, 9 percentage points higher than in 2003, when China launched a nationwide campaign to arrest more killers.

The campaign has also led to the solution of an increasing number of cold cases, He said. Last year, China made arrests in 2,384 older cases, 9.6 percentage points higher than in 2003.

In 2004, Chinese authorities solved 5,910 old cases, 3,734 more than in 2003.

The ministry's campaign requires all local public security authorities to solve at least 85 percent of their homicide cases and to ensure the number of homicides and escaped criminals decline by 2007. During that period, the solution rate for homicides cases is also expected to be improved.

The ministry officials also said the new targets will not lead to an increase in forced confessions.

More provinces and cities are making video and audio recordings during the questioning of crime suspects to prevent abuse.

Crime prevention is another key part of the anti-homicide campaign, He noted.

The official said that higher solution rate has helped cut the occurrence of violent crimes. Last year, authorities investigated 554,000 cases involving violent crime, down 2.16 percent from a year earlier.