As we head into the New Year, nothing can be more savoury than the news that there has been a remarkable decrease in crime rate in the country.

The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), our unflinching custodian of law, must be commended for the success that it has achieved against all the odds that it faces as it goes on about every day to make our communities safe.

Achieving 13 percent drop in crime rate is no small feat.

According to the stats released by the RBP, crime rate dropped significantly in 17 dzongkhags in 2015. However, in the same year, the three dzongkhags of Gasa, Trashiyangtse and Paro saw slight rise in the number of criminal activities.

It is no surprise that Thimphu continues to lead with the highest crime rate of all the dzongkhags. What we can read from the statistics is that big cities and major towns may see increased crime rate if effective control measures are not put in place.

Rising unemployment and growing rural to urban migration are the leading factors that contribute to increased crime rate especially in the bigger towns. Rising crime could be counted as a side affect of development, said Chief of Police Brigadier Kipchu Namgyel. He couldn’t be more right. As development reaches remote dzongkhags, we are witnessing dramatic change in traditional values and social structures.

The most common crimes reported include battery, larceny, burglary, possession and illicit transaction of controlled substances, offense against Ku-Sung-Thukten, malicious mischief and auto stripping.

Although there has been a general drop in other sectors of crime, it is worrying to note that there has been no drop in illegal transaction of controlled substances, not to forget that non-penal offenses are also vastly prevalent in our communities today. In 2015, police recorded 80 suicide cases, 45 fire accidents, 39 accidental deaths, one accidental injury, 17 drowning cases, 33 unnatural deaths and 24 cases of attempted suicide.

What we must understand is that we cannot leave everything to the police. As responsible members of society it is incumbent on each and every one of us to ensure that our communities are safe by employing every way and means available to us.

We are staring the year with this vastly positive record. Let’s keep going this way so that we have even more happy and compelling reasons to celebrate as we welcome 2017.