You are currently viewing Victimization and fear in Chile: crime decreases and fear increases

Fear of crime is the national issue. Last August, the ENUSC (National Urban Survey of Citizen Security) applied annually by the INE (National Institute of Statistics), reported on the state of victimization in the year 2021. This survey is applied through a sample with more of 22,000 households, collects information on victimization of the population since 2012, when 24.3% of households said that one of their members had been victims of a crime, or attempted crime, the year of greatest victimization was the 2017 with 28.0%, which from there falls each year to 19.2% in 2020 and 16.9% in 2021, the lowest in its entire history, to unannounced surprise and explanations not given. Among the crimes with the greatest social connotation from 2020 to 2021, victimization fell in theft from 4.6% to 4.2%, in robbery with violence from 4.0% to 3.3%, in surprise robbery from 3.3 to 2.7%, in robbery with force from 3.0% to 2.5%, in injury from 1.0% to 0.8% and in vehicle theft from 0.9% to 0.7%.

In addition, the INE reported that tThe rate of perception of increased crime in the country, for the year 2021, was 86.9%, while the rate of perception of increased crime in the neighborhood where the respondents live only reached 45.8%, this strong difference between the near perception and the distant information is a very indicative data of how fear is being built, national information is always mediated, forgive the redundancy, by the media.

Faced with this situation, it is argued that due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the Plague, criminal activities would have decreased, something like supposing that the health control of the population is more efficient to control crime than prevention measures, or dissuasion, and control of criminal behavior, however, in fact the decrease in Victimizations began in 2017, they continue to decline ostensibly in 2018 and 2019, this year marked by the social outbreak in October, and continue to decline later with the pandemic, the Plague, in 2020 and 2021, which attenuated social mobilizations until make them non-significant, but did not alter the drop in victimizations. Said in passing, the decrease in victimization since 2019 could also be attributed to the social outbreak.

On the other hand, there has been an increase in violent acts, particularly homicides. The ENUSC does not consider such a crime, surely because quantitatively compared to the other crimes they are so few that they must be carried out in so many per 100 thousand inhabitants. However, according to information from the Police Operation Tactical System (STOP) of Carabineros, homicides between the first half of 2019 and 2022 grew by 45%, likewise, rapes by 13%, vehicle theft by 42% and violent vehicle theft by 81%.. It should be noted that the methodological differences of both sources are very important, where it is highlighted that the ENUSC is based on a random sample of a very significant size of 22,000 households, STOP receives the information of the complaints that are something like half of the facts crimes suffered by the population. On the other hand, according to the newspaper El País, from Chile: “In the first half of 2022, homicide figures shot up 28.7% compared to the same period of the previous year, reaching a total of 413, according to figures from the Chilean Investigative Police (PDI). “Statistics show a decline in petty crime like surprise robbery, but a significant increase in the use of firearms in crimes: between January and June 2021 they were used in 166 homicides, while in the first six months of 2022, in 256 “this means that homicides grew by 54.2% in the last two years.

For its part, the Citizen Peace Index 2021 now reports, in October 2022, that the victimization by robbery in homes or on public roads rose from 27.4% in 2020 to 31.6% in 2021, but, in 2018 was 36.4% and in 2019 it was 40.6%, in any case this last victimization of 31.6%, that of 2021, continues to be the lowest since 2002. This institution also reports that the high fear of the population to be victims of crime rose from 19.5% in 2020 to 20.4% in 2021, having been 19.6% in 2019 and 10.4% in 2018, the lowest since 2000 , this on the eve of the social outbreak, a situation that has also been picked up by the ENUSC, as we have already seen. It should be clarified that the fear index taken by Paz Ciudadana refers only to high fear, but if we consider that 70.4% indicate a medium level of fear and only 9.2% low, this indicator under other methodological conditions could vary markedly. Here again we have important methodological differences between the ENUSC and Paz Ciudadana, while the former consulted 22,000 households, the latter only 1,800. The ENUSC includes all crimes except homicide and Citizen Peace only robbery with violence and force in the home or on public roads, nor does homicide, surely due to the quantitative comparability difficulties mentioned above.

So, everything indicates that fear, fear of crime among the population in general, rather than being a product of the reality experienced by it, is the result of how it is reported.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.

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