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Police to focus on areas with large foreign populations in safety push

Police are expanding efforts to improve safety in neighborhoods with large foreign-born populations.

The Korean National Police Agency rolled out additional plans for improving safety in areas with large number of non-citizens on Sunday, including a data analytics project using cellphone data.

The announcement follows an earlier move on March 17, when the agency said it would apply crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) to 19 districts with high populations of non-citizens, including Itaewon, Daerim-dong and Garibong-dong that had been designated as “public security precincts,” making them areas of focus for increased security.

CPTED involves site-specific improvements such as installation of closed-circuit TV, streetlights and emergency bells in areas with a high concentration of low-rise housing, which are more prone to crime.

Ji-dong in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, was added to the security watch list in the latest revision of public safety scheme due to the high crime rate in the area.

According to police, the number of foreign suspects rose 9.7 percent from the same period the previous year. Police attributed the rise in crimes by foreign nationals to a recent large-scale crackdown on narcotics.

Police increased patrols in parts of Seoul with high proportion of non-citizen residents when US Forces Korea lifted troops’ curfew for three months on June 18.

The KNPA is seeking cooperation from mobile carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus to access prepaid phone data for foreign users not registered with immigration office.

Police already have access to data for citizens and registered foreign residents to track missing persons and investigate criminal complaints, and more recently for big data analytics in projects related to road policing and the monitoring of digital sex crimes.

The agency said it would employ the data to help shape safety policies aimed at non-citizens.

A police agency official said the agency aims to provide nondiscriminatory services for Korean citizens and non-citizens alike, regardless of race, gender, nationality or religion with the newly devised plan.

Korean National Police Agency (Yonhap)
Korean National Police Agency (Yonhap)

By Kim Arin (