The perception of insecurity in Bogotá is at its worst point in five years reveals the most recent report by the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce (CCB) titled the Perception and Victimization Survey. As the most important reference on security for the Colombian capital and released every year in association with the district’s Security Secretariat and Metropolitan Police, extended lockdowns and mobility restrictions heightened a sense of insecurity on city streets believe 76% of the more than 3,500 residents surveyed compared to 60% in 2019.
And while previous surveys reveal that almost half of all residents consider their neighborhoods to be “safe,” last year also saw these numbers drop to 41%. The increase in perceived insecurity is matched also by an increase in victimization compared to 2019. The most stolen items during a mugging are cellphones (48%), cash (45%) and wallets (38%). Other crimes that also concern citizens besides raponeo at gun or knifepoint are homicides (10%), burglaries (4%) and drug trafficking (2%).
The report also focuses on gender-based violence and how women perceive insecurity in the capital. According to the survey, eight out of 10 women believe insecurity has worsened, and among the most dangerous threats they face, is femicide (8.4%), physical abuse (4.8%), vandalism (4.8%) and domestic violence (3.9%). All these percentages have been steadily increasing since the 2018 survey. Women, compared to men, view their neighborhoods as more dangerous, 62% compared to 55%, respectively.
With nine million Bogotá residents at home during enforced lockdowns that began on March 20 and were extended through June when key economic sectors were authorized to resume work, 84% of those polled felt most unsafe in crowds, on public transport (79%) and in shops (77%). Restaurants were also ranked unsafe by 61% of the public even though many venues were forced to close – except if they could offered home delivery – until August. The survey delivers interesting metrics on crime despite the fact that more than half of those committed against victims are not reported to authorities. This percentage (48%) is more encouraging than 23% in 2015. Yet despite calling the emergency hotline 123 – which one-out-of-five individuals did last year – 23% considered that the quality of service they received from first responders as “standard,” 37% answered “good,” and 41% “poor.”
During a year in which coronavirus dominated headlines, Bogotanos took to social media to get their information on security-related issues, over-taking for the first time television news and other media outlets. And as the pandemic emptied parks and shut-down the Sunday Ciclovía, the city’s sidewalks, bridges, and open spaces continued to be perceived as unsafe for pedestrians despite 12,000 members of the police out on the streets enforcing health measures and restrictions.
The protests that erupted last year after the death of Javier Ordoñez as he was detained by police led to widespread confrontations, ensuing destruction to security infrastructure, police command posts and TransMilenio. While Bogotá’s “night of horror” doesn’t change the data of the CCB’s security and victimization survey, it does reveal that despite the on-going health threat associated with the pandemic, the Bogotál witnessed during one night some of its worst violence in recent history, reinforcing negative stereotypes of one of Latin America’s most vibrant and industrious capitals.