BEIRUT — The reported crime rate in Lebanon significantly dropped in the first seven months of 2023 compared to the same period last year, according to data released Tuesday by the Internal Security Forces (ISF).
A source at the ISF told L'Orient Today that the 38 percent drop in reported crime is attributed to security improvements that came as a result of a 2021 decision to fight rising crime. The source added that since then, there has been an increase in arresting criminals and cracking down on gangs.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak with the press.
The apparent drop comes "in spite of the difficult security circumstances" in Lebanon, the ISF said in its statement Tuesday.
Reported car thefts dropped almost 24 percent this year compared to last year, while murders fell by 22 percent. Mugging cases dropped by around 52 percent compared to last year's first seven months.
The source at ISF added that the reported crime rate during July 2023 alone has dropped by 36 percent compared to July of last year, "despite the fact that we had more people and tourists coming into Lebanon."
In November 2022, caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said that the crime rate in Lebanon had not increased at that time compared to the same period, January to November, of 2021, despite the many crises the country faced.
Mawlawi's statement stood in contrast to that of then-General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim in June 2022, who at the time said he was concerned about "social instability" and stated that this worried him "more than political instability" in the country.
The week prior to Mawlawi's comments, Lebanese Army chief Joseph Aoun had also issued a warning of possible security incidents during the presidential vacuum that started on Nov. 1, 2022, after the end of Michel Aoun's mandate and which is ongoing to this day.
'Misrepresentative of reality'
The source at ISF claimed Tuesday that "the security institution's readiness and ability to provide its security services has improved compared to pre-crisis years," despite the fact that the salaries of security forces members have been hit hard by Lebanon's currency depreciation.
Lebanon has been assailed by a multi-pronged crisis for over three years, during which its national currency lost over 98 percent of its value against the US dollar on the parallel market.
As a result, hundreds of members of the security forces are estimated to have deserted the service. Meanwhile, the members who are still in service are taking up side jobs.
Commenting on the ISF's reported crime drop in the first three months of this year, a lawyer previously told L'Orient Today that he believes the numbers could be a misrepresentation of reality. The lawyer had requested anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the press by the Beirut Bar Association.
"These numbers only reflect the crimes that are being reported to ISF, whose capabilities dropped, as their members are taking on other jobs to sustain a living after their salaries drop," the lawyer said, adding that the decrease "could be an indication that people stopped trusting security institutions and stopped reporting these crimes."
Moreover, the lawyer had added, there is no mechanism to make sure that the numbers presented are accurate.