High-impact crime in Mexico: worrying data

Incidencia de los delitos de alto impacto en México 2016The National Citizen Observatory of Mexico published, at the end of June 2017, the study Incidence of high-impact crime in Mexico 2016, in which it analyses the public records related to six crimes which are regarded as having a major impact on the public: intentional homicide and culpable homicide, kidnapping, extortion, theft with violence and vehicle theft.

All over the country the crimes focused on and studied were:

  • 20,792 intentional homicides, with 22,935 victims (21.55% more than the previous year), 1876 victims per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • 15,170 culpable homicides, with 16,878 victims (5.15% less than the previous year), 13.80 victims per 100,000 habitants.
  • 1,865 victims of kidnappings (0.26% less than the previous year), 1.53 per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • 5,240 cases of extortion, with 5,375 victims, 4.40 per 100,000 inhabitants. In this case, the number of victims went down by 0.57% compared with the previous year, but the number of cases increased by 1.14%.
  • 171,555 thefts with violence (3.6% less than the previous year), 140.30 per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • 161.567 vehicle thefts (2.33% less than the previous year), 389.11 per 100,000 vehicles or 132.14 per 100,000 inhabitants. Of these vehicle thefts, 72% involved violence and 38% were non-violent.

Apart from the nationwide data, the study also presented figures corresponding to different territorial divisions or sub-divisions; there are some alarming signs based on the incidence or variation of some criminal typologies and a whole section is dedicated to the role of the citizen and civil organisations with the National network of Observatories of Security, Justice and Legality.

The report is very critical with the Mexican institutions, both regarding their security policies implemented and aspects relevant to the gathering of data. On the one hand, they consider that the Mexican government focuses its activity on a frontal attack on organised crime and neglects, among other aspects, preventive policies and the fight against arms trafficking, money laundering and corruption. On the other hand, the public data generates mistrust for a range of reasons. In some cases, there are municipalities with few or no records of some criminal typologies liking street muggings. In other cases, some areas show important changes in their figures in a short period of time. This adds to the low level of public trust in reporting crime to the police which results in the very dark and gloomy figure of 93.7% according to the National Survey of Crime and Perception of Public Security (ENVIPE) of 2016 (data relevant to 2015). Extortion is one of the crimes which are most likely not to be reported. According to the ENVIPE in 2016 it was the second most common crime and represented 24.2% of the total in 2015, with theft in public transport and muggings being the most common, which were 28,2%.

Final recommendations made by the study include improving security indicators, creating mechanisms which encourage the reporting of crimes and reduce the sombre figures; combat and prioritise the fight against arms trafficking and money laundering; laying the bases for public security policies (both preventive and reactive) in diagnostics  and informing of trust  and involving civil society with security institutions.

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