"Crime in Mombasa town: patterns and trends 1985 to 1991."
Crime is a social problem whose impact on the social-economic fabric of the society or community is immense and undoubtedly painful. In fact, the cost of crime in society is exacerbated by the fact that for each crime committed there is always a human victim. Information from a number of sources indicate a considerable upsurge of crime in Kenya ill recent years. Literature such as Muli et al (1989) illuminate the fact that between 1972 and 1989 there was a remarkable increase of all types of crime except rape. Similarly, the statistical abstract (1989) points out an outstanding increase of all crimes known to the police as well as an increase ill the number of criminals committed to the prisons. Elsewhere, audio-visual, electronic and print media constantly highlight, at a greater degree, the occurrence of, especially, violent and property crimes in Kenya today. However, inspite of this illumination as well as police activities the rate of crime in Kenya seems to increase day in day out. The question is - WHY? Is the increase in the rate of crime due to a shoddy understanding of the nature of crime? Has the problem of crime been properly addressed, explained and understood, or is it because those concerned with crime, that is, victims, criminals, police and prison department have not been given adequate opportunity to tell their side of the story on this issue of crime. Or is it because as days go by more and more people become vulnerable to crime either as victims or criminals? These are some of the numerous questions this study wanted to answer. Therefore the main purpose of this study was to go out there and examine in great detail the patterns and trends of violent and property crimes. To achieve this objective Mombasa town was chosen since it is a major urban and industrial centre where crime is increasingly becoming a social problem. A sample size of 200 people was picked [or study. This sample was derived from Mombasa island, Kisauni, Likoni and Changamwe divisions. These divisions are made up of 18 locations and 37 sub-locations. I chose to study only 19. These 19 sub-locations were picked using the random (lottery) method. My unit or analysis was the victim which was derived from the households in Mombasa. A household was therefore, represented by an individual respondent who must have been a victim or crime at one time or another. Using the total number of households within the sub-locations so chosen I calculated the sampling ratio which enabled me to get a proportionate number of respondents from each sub-location. Thereafter I and my research assistants interviewed the required number of respondents from each sub-location. Data collection was done in three successive stages beginning with Primary data, then Secondary data I and 2 . Basically primary data was collected through the use of interview schedules personally administered by me and three personally handpicked and trained research assistants . However ,the collection of secondary data from both the prison and police departments was done single handedly by me. After the collection of data various methods were used to analyse thy data and the initial and most important tool used was the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (S.P.S.S). This package enabled me to tabulate,cross-tabulate,calculate the percentages, the medians, the modes and the standard deviations. Also the Harvard graphic package was used. In this study members of the population were asked whether they had been victims of crime at one period of time or another. Thereafter the study proceeded to look at the characteristics of the victim; who is likely to be victimized, what types of crime are they likely to be victims of, what role do the victims play in the criminal justice and administration system and even more importantly, what help, assistance and support do they need. Information gathered from the victims reinforced those gathered from the prison and police departments.The majority of the victims in these categories of crimes were young people, more males than females and more educated than uneducated, whereas criminals were also more males than females, but less educated than educated and more unemployed than employed. In addition, victims in violent crimes were, at least, acquainted with the attackers as opposed to victims in property crimes. Victims as well as criminals of assault were found to be overwhelmingly male and the highest rate ranged between 18-33 age group, the least likely victims of this crime were elderly women.In specific terms though.the majority of sexually or indecently assaulted people were women, whereas the majority of those who committed this offence were males. Over a half of all the victims of rape were acquainted with the attacker. Property crimes showed the widest range of seriousness and types, varying from armed robbery and burglary to mugging and picking pockets in the streets. In general terms, however, the majority of criminals were uneducated and unemployed in all categories of crime studied here. One interesting finding in this study was the one concerning police presence and crime commission. It was found that as one goes far away from a police station one experienced more crimes and vice versa. Yet the only controversy that arose in the course of the study was whether or not there was increase in crime. The victims said that there was increase in crime and cited unemployment, lack of proper education, poor policing and population increase as some of the reasons for increase of crime. But the police and prison statistics on the other hand, showed a decrease in crime within the period under study. The point to note here though is that there are all reasons to argue that crime is on the increase in spite of police and prison crime records. Therefore there is need to curtail the crime problem by trying to solve those problems that affect the economically active segment of the population such as providing relevant education for all, providing job opportunities, reducing rural to urban migration by decentralizing industrial and urban growth and more importantly by ensuring proper policing in crime prone urban areas.
Department of Sociology and Social work, University of Nairobi
Master of Arts