A stark increase in the number of Israelis police have arrested has coincided with a continued erosion in the rights of detainees, according to a Public Defender’s Office report that came out Monday.
The report says that over the past decade, there has been a 35-percent increase in the number of Israelis arrested – 62,291 in 2012, compared to 40,345 in 1998 – constituting what it refers to as a “disturbing trend.” In addition, the number of people detained for questioning at police stations rose from 35,646 in 2003 to 42,427 in 2012, and the number of people jailed until the end of their legal proceedings rose from 15% of arrestees in 1998 to 31% in 2012.
The clear majority of these arrests don’t result in indictments, the report adds.
In the document, the Public Defender’s Office also takes issue with what it says are the wrongful arrests of thousands of people kept in custody overnight until they can post bail.
The report places much of the blame not only on police, but also on the heavy workload that the court system faces.
Also, most of the detainees in the country do not consult with an attorney before undergoing police questioning, and police do not take the necessary steps to ensure that such rights are exercised, the report states.
Among the report’s recommendations is a call to change the operation hours of the Public Defender’s Office’s detainee department to a 24/7 schedule, as well as to launch programs in schools to prevent juvenile crimes, and to deal with the issue of overcrowding in prisons.
In response to the report, Israel Police commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino said Monday that he viewed the document as affirming ongoing police efforts “to increase deterrence and a criminal’s odds of being arrested. The report affirms our assertion that 2012 was the worst year on record for criminals.”
While acknowledging that “the rights of a suspect are important,” he stated that “the citizens’ right to public security is no less important.”