El Salvador’s Citizens Identify Security as their Primary Concern

Until 2009, the population of El Salvador identified the country’s economic performance as their primary area of concern. After 2009 however, this changed, and since then, residents have viewed crime and insecurity as the most significant problems faced by the country. The data in this report was obtained from the Transparency Portal of El Salvador’s National Civil Police Force, the Public Opinion Institute of the José Simeón Cañas Central American University (IUDOP/UCA) and the Latinobarómetro.

Despite occasional reductions in violent deaths since 2010, they remain significantly higher than those recorded in Latin America as a whole. In 2018, men accounted for the majority of violent deaths (88.4%),and 44.3% of the victims of the crime were people aged between 18 and 29 years old.

In general, between 2017 and 2018, the total number of crimes, excluding violent deaths, decreased by 6%. The crimes to have experienced the sharpest increases are vehicle robbery (+19.4%) and vehicle theft (+9.0%), followed by kidnapping (+6.7%). Homicides that take place in cars or deaths caused by traffic accidents also increased (+5.5%). Conversely, the theft and robbery of goods vehicles saw a decrease (-16.7%), as did robbery (-13.6%) and theft

With regard to victimisation, between 2001 and 2018, two out of ten Salvadorans were the victims of a crime, although in 2018 the rate lowered slightly to 16.5%, its lowest figure since 2005.

It should also be noted that in 2017, 78.1% of victims did not file a complaint with the relevant authorities. And this figure rose to 80.5% in 2018. This high level of unreported offences means that only two out of ten crimes ever get recorded by the National Civil Police (PNC) or the courts. What’s more, in 2018, only 35.4% of those surveyed said they had some confidence in the PNC.

On the other hand, the percentage of people who say they are afraid to walk around their neighbourhood alone decreased slightly between 2017 and 2018. The decrease was primarily reported by women, falling by 3.1% between 2017 and 2018. However, incidences of femicide increased by 184.5% in 2018 compared to 2013, the year when the crime was classified under the First Comprehensive Law for a Life Free of Violence against Women (LEIV).

With regard to classification, in 2015, 59.4% of violent female deaths were classified as femicides. In 2017, this figure was 75.9% and in 2018 81.9%. This increase could be linked to the improved capacity for properly documenting these violent acts.

On prisons, the data shows that overcrowding rose from 202% in 2010 to 378% in 2016. In 2018, El Salvador’s incarceration rate was 609 for every 100,000 inhabitants, making it one of the highest in Latin America. In the same year, the average rate in Latin America was 376 for every 100,000 inhabitants, and the global figure was 145.


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