Escalating crime figures are an indictment of our society. Stats from the Royal Bhutan Police show that last year, the number of arrests touched 1,180. The trend is sad and worrying. What is more worrying is that our young people form the biggest number among those who commit crimes.

Reading the patterns of crimes, we can almost be certain where lies the problem. Larceny, assault or battery, crime related to controlled substances, burglary and auto stripping are the most common offences reported in the country. Crime against property increased from 48 percent in 2016 to 51 percent in 2018.

There seems to be a direct correlation between youth unemployment and crime rate. When the nation is not able to keep pace in terms of job creation with the ever-increasing number of jobseekers, big cities where they look and come to find employment become haven of crime.

While we have been juggling with ideas to create jobs, most of which have been alas unsustainable, we have come face to face with two of the most serious social ailments of the modern times. According to population and housing census, youth unemployment has come down to 10.6 percent from 13.2 percent, but in the period of more than ten years, the percentage of youth unemployment has in fact remained the same more or less. Rising crime rate is testimony to the kind of desperation our young people are going through today.

According to police reports, CCTV cameras helped detect 126 criminals and 492 traffic offences from 2018 to date. What we must understand is that while surveillance cameras come in handy to detect crimes, we may not necessarily be able to stop or reduce them. So, addressing the issue of rising crime rate will require more than CCTV cameras and electric patrol cars. There is a need to look at the heart of the problem from a broader perspective.

While we play with unemployment figures to suit our needs, the kinds of desperation that our young people are going through today and are finding expression in their varied forms are a testimony to policy failure that we must repair immediately. We can no longer afford foot-dragging when it comes to preventing our young people from resorting to criminal activities.

As we flounder with interventions to address growing issue of youth unemployment, urban unemployment and poverty is fast becoming the greatest spectre facing the nation. Consequences could be far-reaching and dangerous. Tackling this problem soon enough, therefore, is critically important.