The Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu gave an overview of the development objectives of criminal policy to the Riigikogu. Last year’s crime statistics by the Ministry of Justice shows that, compared to 2016, the number of recorded crimes decreased by seven per cent in Estonia.
Reinsalu said that the general picture was positive and recorded crime was falling, but critical mind still had to be maintained. “In criminal policy, the aim in controlling crime is directed at reducing recidivism,” Reinsalu said.
The Minister of Justice stressed in his report that the victim had to be in the centre of criminal policy. “Dignified treatment of the victim and the witness in criminal proceedings increases people’s trust in the legal protection system, reduces sufferings and alleviates the harm caused by criminal offences,” Reinsalu added.
Although the number of recorded crimes has been falling for several consecutive years, nevertheless, practical steps must be taken to ensure the feeling of security of people. Reinsalu said that “society must be protected against the most dangerous criminals. Dangerous crimes affect the sense of security of people”. Dangerous habitual offenders must be approached differently from others, and a Bill concerning the treatment of habitual offenders is under preparation.
In his report, Reinsalu pointed out several legislative amendments that affected criminal policy. “Last year, the amendment to the Penal Code that provided for stricter treatment of people who are caught driving while drunk entered into force. The Act not only tightened the punishment for repeatedly committing criminal offences while drunk, but also extended the possibilities to offer help to drivers who have an alcohol problem,” Reinsalu said. The total number of drivers caught driving drunk decreased by nine per cent last year.
In his speech, the Minister of Justice also dwelt on the issue of domestic violence. He pointed out that every tenth recorded crime involved domestic violence. The minister said that the fact that only every tenth victim of domestic violence turned to the police was worrying. He stressed that no victim of domestic violence was to remain alone, and victims could receive help from the state.
Raivo Aeg, who took the floor on behalf of the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Faction during the debate, underlined that more attention needed to be paid to crime prevention and resocialisation of offenders.
Liisa Oviir on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction stressed that the justice system had to put the victim of crime and their rights first, and it was necessary to continue dealing with reducing domestic violence. In his speech, Jaanus Karilaid from the Centre Party Faction focused on domestic violence and the issues of pre-trial proceedings.
Valdo Randpere from the Reform Party Faction dwelt on the issue of the funding of the activities of assistant police officers. Külliki Kübarsepp from the Free Party Faction stressed the need to direct more resources into curbing corruption. In Mart Helme’s opinion, who spoke on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, it was necessary to look beyond crime statistics and to analyse more thoroughly what was actually hidden behind the numbers.
“The Development Objectives of Criminal Policy until 2018” were approved by the Riigikogu in 2010. This year, the Ministry of Justice is preparing new fundamentals of criminal policy until 2025. Crime statistics are available here.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
Riigikogu Press Service
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