Recent surveys on the perception of public safety conducted by the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos (IEP – Institute of Peruvian Studies) indicate that the Peruvian citizenry’s perception of its security did not change between 2015 and 2019.
However, despite the results of these surveys, statistics from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática (INEI – Peruvian National Institute of Statistics and Information) paint an entirely different picture. According to the statistics, the annual percentage of people who fell victim to crime dropped, from 36% in 2013 to 27.5% in 2018.
Despite this seemingly contradictory data, the citizenship professes it continues to feel afraid. The INEI itself has published the latest data from September 2018-February 2019, which unequivocally confirms that 86.6% of Peruvians believe they will fall victim to a criminal act. And that figure rises to 89% in the 30 to 44-year-old age group.
Analysing the perception of public safety by territories reveals several regions where more than 90% of the population are scared they will be targeted by criminals. Arequipa, for example, where the figure is 93.2%, the province of Lima where it stands at 92%, or Huancavelica at 91.3%.
Serious in-depth studies are needed to identify the reasons behind this lack of confidence in public safety. And this is confirmed by sociologist Lucía Dammert in her study on the perception of safety in Peru.
Dammert believes the constant changes of ministers and their teams, as well as the rotation of leadership within the Policía Nacional del Perú (Peruvian National Police Force), make it difficult to identify political strategies. It’s hard to evaluate the various initiatives and priorities due to the constant changes.
Another issue is that police coverage is insufficient, and citizens feel unprotected. Furthermore, the justice system is ineffective and levels of impunity are high. The prison system neither punishes nor rehabilitates, which means the police are forced to act harshly, and this is not an effective policy for dealing with the problem.
Notably, despite high levels of domestic violence, especially against women, citizens identify the street as the place where they feel most vulnerable. As a consequence, they choose to lock themselves in their homes and limit their lives on the street; a reality that’s problematic for democratic coexistence.
In addition, corruption is omnipresent in the country’s institutions, which need to build their legitimacy based on just and effective actions. Failure to achieve this leads to a general feeling of vulnerability.
Lastly, Peru sits at the apex of the main organised crime routes. Its citizens see how illegal markets such as mining, logging and prostitution continue to thrive. Yet, the country still refuses to adopt any public policies to deal with those issues.