High crime—Low crime
Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration Marek Biernacki and Deputy Chief of Police Ireneusz Wachowski unveiled a new programme that aims to reduce the number of most common crimes. The program is called "17 x 5" and was inspired by a similar programme, "6 x 6," implemented in Spain.
The slightly cryptic name indicates the 17 largest cities and five most common offences, including car thefts, home burglary, assaults involving theft, robberies involving extortion, and beating. The logic behind the programme is fairly clear since, according to police statistics, 80 per cent of these crimes occur in the urban centres and frequently remain unresolved. In Spain, over the three years of implementation the number of common offences dropped by 15 per cent.
Wachowski assured that, "No additional money is needed to implement our new program," and it will be connected with the reorganisation of police work. Police commanders will be required to daily analyse data related to common offences and assign street patrols accordingly. In areas of a city that are found to be shadiest, special patrols are to be out around the clock.
Additionally, all station commanders will submit short weekly reports to the city's police chief in a given city to be appraised quarterly. "Policemen, also those of higher rank, must be aware that if they perform their duties poorly, they can be replaced with someone better," Wachowski warned. Conversely, those who exceed expectations will be rewarded with promotions and bonuses.
"If I am not successful, I will treat it as a personal failure," Biernacki declared. He anticipates initial results to be felt by early summer and is shooting for an overall five per cent drop in the rate of these offences.
Mary Jane hits big
According to newspapers' reports this week, every third teenager admits to having had contact with drugs and one-tenth does not hide having "experimented" with amphetamines and heroin. The reports state that the drugs of choice in the capital are marihuana, amphetamines and heroin.
An officer with the Central Investigating Bureau said, "Children from the primary schools reach for an Indian hemp. They initiate drug use by smoking weed. Of course, teenagers persuade themselves that so called maryska (marihuana) does not make them drug dependant and that they will finish their adventure with intoxicants with only marihuana. According to our information, parties during which marihuana is not smoked are the rarity." Drug use has risen rapidly over the past seven years and the country currently has an estimated 200,000 addicts and two million people who have experimented with drugs.
Tuesday saw a number of drug awareness events planned across the country with around 10,000 people gathering in a "chain of pure hearts" in the centre of Warsaw. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek addressed the crowd: "You are wonderful, because we are all trying to think of ways to raise awareness among people that drugs mean death and destruction." The government passed a severe new drug law late last year and at-home drug testing kits went on the market. Brave new world.
Not so petty crimes
The daily Trybuna, quoting a former gangster-turned-state-witness, accused two aides of former President Lech Wałęsa, identified as Lech F (Falandysz) and Mieczysław W (Wachowski) of taking USD 150,000 each to prod the then-president into pardoning the suspected leader of the Pruszkow Gang, Andrzej Banasiak (who later changed his name to Zieliński) aka Słowik (Nightingale), in 1993.
Justice Minister and Prosecutor-General Lech Kaczynski has ordered an investigation into the case. Wałęsa stated on a television broadcast that, "I might have been misled [on the act of pardon]. Someone shoved those documents on me [for signing]," but changed his tune the following day saying he had signed the pardon because he believed him to be "a petty thief who deserved commiseration." Wałęsa also pardoned another gangster, Zbigniew K, aka Ali, "in unclear circumstances."
Wałęsa only came back with, "Oh, come on, be serious! How can I...what...did I...did I have contact with criminals? Don't make jokes out of this! These are jokes! What...why don't you have a go at [President Aleksander] Kwaśniewski and search for things there? And then you really will see what, what the differences are between my [pardons] and Kwaśniewski's [pardons]," Polish Radio quoted.
Kwaśniewski was more gallant for his part commenting, "I am absolutely convinced that it was in good faith that he received the documentation, which he signed in accordance with the decisions of his collaborators."
Budget finally through
In addition to passing the crucial budget, the Sejm also passed the Senate's amendment to the Labour Code shortening the work week to a mere 40 hours and stipulating that two out of every seven days will be days off as of 2003. Trade unions have been pushing for the move for the past two years, which had been opposed by the increasingly unpopular Freedom Union (UW).
The UW had argued that, due to high labour costs, the country could not afford to reduce working time, which seems to be confirmed by Andrzej Wilk of the Polish Confederation of Private Employers, who said the reduction in working hours will prevent employers from raising wages for a long time.
It was apparently a busy day in the Sejm, since they also amended the current law that bans beer advertisement. They have decided that adverts may be aired on television, radio, in cinemas and theatres between 23:00 and 6:00. They will, however, remain banned from videos, youth-oriented magazines, front pages of magazines, announcement posts and billboards and should not be associated with sexual attractiveness, free time, health, or success.
The catch (of course) is that non-alcoholic beer is exempt. As a result, more breweries have introduced non-alcoholic products almost identical to their corruptive counterparts and have plastered glossy, busty adverts on billboards around the country.
Joanna Rohozińska, 2 March 2001
Prawo i Gospodarka
Polska Agencja Prasowa
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