Focus on crime-busting was "not seen as a need" for the government, until only recently, said Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

Speaking to reporters today, he said that reduction of crime had not been a priority since the nation gained independence in 1957.

"We have now got political will right to the top (to fight crime).

"This was never the case, even since was not seen as a need," he said.

hishammuddin hussein dang wangi police station pc 1Hishammuddin (right) added that previously society, too, did not pay too much attention to crime.

"Focus on crime was not so high before, but if the public see crime as priority, the leadership, all the way to the prime minister will not deny this concern," he said.

He added that as a result, the police have increased its recruitment to bring up the police-to-people ratio.

"But training would take time, so as a stop-gap measure we are using whatever methods we can," he said.

He said this includes using military facilities for training as well as engaging community groups.

'We still need SB'

This may not, however, mean redeploying the large number of Special Branch officers to criminal investigation.

"There are many sort of policing...including intelligence policing, which requires the Special Branch.

azlan"Intelligence is a very important aspect but it cannot exist in isolation," he said when asked on this.

Other efforts, he said, includes recruiting former police chief Ayub Yaakob to Bukit Aman to assist the National Key Results Area crime prevention efforts.

He added that he will also be reviewing the performance of other initiatives like the My Distress SMS alert system, the NUR Alert (National Urgent Response Alert) and Rakan Cop after the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays.

"If they have been successful we will roll them out nationwide, otherwise we will see how to improve," he said.

He also distributed 2,000 forms for the 'Safe Home' programme in Kelana Jaya, Selangor to encourage residents to alert their local police of their absence during the festive season.

He said that the information will be collated onto a database for future use, including to disseminate verified information on incidences of crime.

"In social media, information spreads in an eye blink and some may not be true," he said.