Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rise In Violent Crimes Follows Nationwide Trend

San Diego -- Homicides were up 51 percent in San Diego County during the first half of 2006, but thefts, burglaries and other property crimes decreased, according to a report released yesterday.

Authorities say the increase in violent crime – most likely the result of a rise in gang and drug activity – mirrors a nationwide trend in recent years, said Cindy Burke of the San Diego Association of Governments, which compiled the report.

“A lot of other jurisdictions are seeing a rise in violent crime,” Burke said.

Despite the slight increase from last year, the violent-crime rate in San Diego County remains significantly lower than it was in the mid-1990s, the report states. In 1997, there were 6.6 violent crimes – defined as homicides, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults – for every 1,000 people. For the first half of 2006, the rate was 4.4 per 1,000.

SignOnSanDiego.com

The number of homicides during the first six months of 2006 jumped 51 percent from the same period last year. There were 65 homicides in San Diego County during the first six months of this year compared with 43 during the same period last year.

Robberies were up 12 percent from last year; rapes dropped 10 percent and aggravated assaults dropped 2 percent, the report states.

In all, there were 6,740 violent crimes during the first six months of this year, an average of roughly 37 per day, according to the report, based on statistics from all of the county's unincorporated areas and 18 municipalities.

Property crimes were down slightly from last year. In the first six months of 2006, there were 30.28 property crimes for every 1,000 residents compared with 32 per 1,000 in the first six months of 2005.

Motor-vehicle thefts dropped 5 percent from last year, as did residential burglaries. In total, there were 46,426 property crimes during the first six months of this year, most of them thefts and burglaries, according to the report.

UK Muslim Police Officer Claims Discriminationi

LONDON — A Muslim police officer who was removed from a special unit that guards dignitaries such as Prime Minister Tony Blair has filed a complaint alleging discrimination.

The Independent newspaper reported Tuesday that Amjad Farooq, 39, was removed from London's Metropolitan Police's Diplomatic Protection Group SO16 after being told that he was a threat to national security because two of his five children had allegedly attended a mosque associated with a Muslim cleric linked to a suspected terrorist group. The officer also was told that his presence might upset the American secret service, which worked with the Met's 600-officer close-protection unit, the paper said.

A spokesman at Scotland Yard confirmed that a police officer has filed a complaint to an employment tribunal alleging discrimination on the grounds of race and religious belief, but would not identify the employee by name. In August, another Diplomatic Protection Group officer, Alexander Omar Basha, raised concern that if he was seen on television guarding the Israeli Embassy in London his relatives in Lebanon could be in jeopardy during fighting there between Israeli forces and Hezbollah. The Met told him he would not have to guard that embassy. Farooq had been a firearms specialist working for the Wiltshire Constabulary in western England before he was transferred to the Diplomatic Protection Group SO16, which protects officials at government, diplomatic and Metropolitan Police sites. Such officers are required to undergo security vetting, including a counterterrorism check.

The Independent said that on Dec. 16, 2003, the force told Farooq that he had failed the check because his 9-year-old and 11-year-old sons had attended their local mosque for religious studies when the building was associated with an imam the police suspected had links to an extremist Islamic group.Farooq, who denied any such links or inappropriate behaviour, had been working for the Diplomatic Protection Group for six weeks at that point. The Independent quoted Farooq's lawyer, Lawrence Davies, as saying that Muslims such as Farooq often are unjustly seen as a national security threat without any evidence.