CASABLANCA - Hundreds of criminals were arrested last week in the Moulay Rachid district during the first phase of a campaign against crime in the Moroccan capital city of Casablanca.
The week-long crackdown in the dangerous Moulay Rachid district allowed the arrest of an unexpected number of criminals, including notorious criminals and others long wanted by the police, according the Moroccan media.
Other neighbourhoods are set to experience similar campaigns that will also last one week each.
Casablancans hailed the long-awaited campaign, but called on the head of the General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) Abdellatif Hammouchi to make it permanent and more discreet in order to have safer streets across the bustling economic capital.
“A good repression because it became very grave,” wrote Amjid Casawi on Facebook.
Facebooker Abdellah Tazghoult called for tougher punishments.
“All these campaigns and arrests remain in vain unless the judiciary is firm in dealing with this scourge by taking them (criminals) away from the urban sphere and making them work in the desert and high mountains,” wrote Tazghoult.
The campaign, which was already carried out in several cities, is expected to reconcile citizens with the police following the circulation of dozens of videos of crimes and thefts in Casablanca that have taken social media by storm.
The US Department of State's Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) warned of a considerable risk from crime in Casablanca in a report issued last April.
The DGSN increased anti-crime operations across the country by 6% in 2018. The number of people arrested totalled 554,202, while the number of criminal cases reached 584,516. Police detained 91% of those arrested, according to official figures.
Violent crimes made up 10% of all cases, with 56,878 total reported incidents while murder and sexual assault cases fell by 7% and 5% respectively.
In May 2017, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) revealed in a report that crime and violence cost Morocco nearly 6.6% of its Gross Domestic Product in 2016 against a world average of 12.3%.
The report warned that the rise in the crime rate may ultimately affect citizens' perceptions of security, especially in deprived areas and that the feeling of insecurity could also be heightened by the excessive spread of violence and shocking crimes, via the web and social networks.