The country’s most important business and commercial entity, the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce (Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá), completed this month a comprehensive survey concerning how the inhabitants of the capital perceive their security (or lack thereof), with specific recommendations for the mayoralty, national government, police, and how to combat crime and the negative perceptions related to citizen safety.
The Encuesta de Percepción y Victimización (Survey of Perception and Victimization), was conducted among 9,527 persons during weekends in June and July of this year. Of those polled, 12.6% claimed to have been directly impacted by a crime, while 25.5% had a family member affected by crime, putting the total victimization number at 38%. The highest levels of these direct victimizations took place in the neighbourhoods of Usaquén (18%), Santafé (17%) and Tunjuelito (17%).
There are some disturbing trends in this report, such as the increased use of firearms in muggings, which accounts for 28% during the first half of 2014 compared with a total of 19% the year before. The item which was most stolen during a mugging was a cellphone (34%).
Even though the street continues to be the place where most people are mugged (62%), public transport accounts for 21%. The dangerous taxi “express kidnapping” or “millionaire’s ride” (paseo millionario), also increased during the first six months of this year from 4% to 15%.
Yet, only one in four crimes perpetuated in Bogotá actually got reported to the police. The CCB’s indicator is 11 points lower in 2014 than the 34% of last year. Are Bogotanos then losing confidence in reporting crimes to the police?
Well, it depends where you live. In the districts of Antonio Nariño, Usme and Puente Aranda more victims of crime actually went to the police, while in Usaquén and Ciudad Bolívar, numbers remained below 15%.
Those who did report crimes to the authorities, believed it part of their “public duty” (31%), but of those, 62% were unhappy with the results: that the police didn’t recover that which was lost, or didn’t do enough to track down the criminals. Those who didn’t bother reporting a crime claimed it was because the process takes too long, is complicated (39%), and don’t have faith in the police (30%).
From the statistics compiled for the report, the Chamber of Commerce took into account the perception of insecurity among Bogotanos – and of those polled – 43% believed insecurity had deteriorated. In 2013, the number stood at 47%. Bogotá’s Mayor Gustavo Petro, was quick to state that a 5% drop in the index marked a positive shift for the capital and he went on to “congratulate” Bogotanos with the improved security “perception.”
Yet, the numbers are hardly encouraging when only 17% of Bogotanos believe their mass transportation system, TransMilenio, to be a safe one; and reports of the “paseo milionario” doesn’t seem to deter locals from taking what is perceived to be the safest method of transport around in the capital: the cab (57%).
The study also looks at the worrisome trend of gang-related violence in Bogotá and the perception that parks, bridges and bus stops are the places where one is most at risk of being attacked. The study also highlights the lack of adecuate lighting in public areas and how this added to fear among the public. Other causes of the insecurity mentioned in this Encuesta comes down to the lack of police presence, the peddling of illegal drugs in parks and derelict places, and the problem of the city’s homeless.
So it should come as no surprise, that 20% of those polled avoid going out at night, and consider that the most dangerous time to be out in Bogotá is between 6 pm and midnight. However, of all crimes reported only 27% happened during this perceived dangerous time.