Perceptions of insecurity among residents of Mexico’s cities are at a record-high level, according to a national poll by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).
Of adults polled in the first half of September for the National Survey on Urban Public Security 76% said their city was unsafe to live in.
The figure is the highest recorded by Inegi since it started the quarterly survey in September 2013 and represents a 1.1% increase on the last survey carried out in June and a 4.1% rise on the September 2016 survey.
The perception of insecurity is slightly higher among women with 80.3% responding that their city was unsafe compared to 71.1% of men.
The respondents’ outlook for 2018 was pessimistic: 72.9% expect that crime in their city will remain just as bad (35.5%) or get worse (37.4%) in the next 12 months, up 3% over figures recorded a year ago.
The cities with the highest perceptions of insecurity, according to the percentage of residents who said they felt unsafe, were:
• Villahermosa, Tabasco: 98.4%;
• Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz: 97%;
• The northern boroughs of Mexico City: 94.8%;
• Reynosa, Tamaulipas: 93.6%;
• Ecatepec, México state: 93.5%;
• The eastern boroughs of Mexico City: 93%.
On the other hand, the cities where the perceptions of insecurity among residents were lowest were:
• Mérida, Yucatán: 27.4%;
• Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco: 28.9%;
• Piedras Negras, Coahuila: 34.3%;
• Saltillo, Coahuila: 42.2%;
• Durango, Durango: 44.2%;
• Campeche, Campeche: 44.4%.
The public spaces where respondents said they felt most unsafe were automatic teller machines in the street, on public transit, on streets that they routinely use and in banks.
The survey also found that people’s feelings about insecurity were influenced by various factors including whether they had witnessed a crime in a public place. The fear of being a victim of a crime can also change people’s habits and routines as well as their perception of the police.
The survey found 62.5% changed their habits with respect to wearing jewelry or carrying cash or credit cards, 54.3% recognized that they had changed rules about when their children could go out while 52.3% modified their own behavior after 8:00pm and one-third said they had changed their habits related to visiting relatives and friends.
The most common types of crime and anti-social behavior witnessed or heard by respondents in their own neighborhoods were alcohol consumption in the street (65%), theft and assaults (64.9%), vandalism of homes or businesses (50.9%), the sale or consumption of drugs (43.1%), gang-related activity (34.8%) and gun shots (33.8%).
Seventy-two per cent of respondents said they had experienced some kind of criminal problem with neighbors while 32.6% said that they had been in a conflict or confrontation with an unknown person in the street.
The Navy fared best among the nation’s security forces with 87.3% of respondents rating their performance as “very or somewhat effective” followed by the Army (84.6%), the National Gendarmerie (72.5%) and the Federal Police (65%).
The perceived effectiveness of state police (50.4%) and municipal police (40.3%) was considerably lower.
Confidence in government was also low with 75% of respondents saying they considered their city government “not very effective or not at all effective” in solving the most significant problems their cities face.
Source: El Universal (sp)