Crime: between reality and perception. Results of the Report by Central Directorate of Criminal Police and Eurispes

Central Directorate of Criminal Police and Eurispes present, in Rome, the results of the Report “Crime: between reality and perception”

ROME, ITALY, May 8, 2023/ — The survey “Crime: Between Reality and Perception” was created within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Department of Public Security – Central Directorate of Criminal Police and Eurispes (Institute of Political, Economic and Social Studies), with the aim to carry out joint sector research, studies and meticulous investigations on the various criminal phenomena.

Gian Maria Fara, President of Eurispes, explains «The study responds to a need for information on security issues, which have priority in the public debate in Italy, as well as in the feelings of every citizen. Security is in fact one of the central topics in political and media communication, but it is necessary to distinguish between real risk and perceived risk, categories that often do not coincide, the former based on objective and measurable data, the latter conditioned by subjective dynamics such as fear and uncertainty about the future.»

The (real) trend of crimes in Italy during the pandemic years

According to the data processed by the Criminal Analysis Service of the Central Directorate of Criminal Police, in Italy, in the 2007-2022 timeframe (non-consolidated data), the overall total of crimes showed a fluctuating trend until 2013, and then revealed a steady decrease from 2014 to 2020. In 2021 and 2022, on the other hand, there is an upward trend: in particular, in 2022, there are 2,183,045 recorded crimes, an increase of 3.8% compared to 2021. It is, however, important to emphasise the particularity of the years 2020 and 2021, which are characterised by limitations on people’s mobility. Therefore, when compared to 2019, the crimes committed in 2022 appear to be decreasing.

Citizens and security: between reality and perception. The sample survey

In order to thoroughly investigate the level of security perceived by citizens, a nationwide survey involving 1,026 citizens was carried out.

Among the citizens, 61.5% stated that they live in a city/town that they consider safe. The majority of citizens say they feel fairly and very safe going out alone during the day in their area of residence (83.3%).

Things change when it comes to going out in the evening hours (67,6%).

Over the past three years, and thus since the beginning of the pandemic, the fear of crime has increased for 24.8% of the sample, while 7.3% report being less afraid than in the past.

To “keep themselves safe”, 22.5% of respondents have installed an alarm system, 21.4% have put in window grilles, and 20.7% had armored doors.

The two most feared crimes are housebreaking (58.3%) and theft of personal data on the Internet (55.1%).

Social distress is cited as the first reason behind the spread of criminal phenomena (16.6%), followed by the difficult economic situation (15.8%).

What strategies to focus on to fight crime? For 16.9% of citizens, it is necessary to increase employment.

A large portion of the sample (47%) believes that crimes are committed equally by Italians and foreigners; about one in five respondents think that the perpetrators are mainly foreigners (20.7%), and only 6.1% place the blame on Italians.

Having to express an opinion on the way the mass media represent the crime problem, 27.9% of the sample indicates that the media narrative is realistic, according to 26.1% crime is portrayed less severely than in reality, for 21% the media offer an alarmist portrayal.

In the past year, Italians said they had been victims mainly of Internet scams (14.7 %), threats (11.2 %), and housebreaking (11%). One in ten Italians (10.2%) were victims of scams and frauds, such as credit card cloning, financial scams etc., 7.3% of muggings and pickpocketing, 6.1% of car theft, while 6.2% were duped by false job applications. Of those who responded, 5.5% were victims of physical assault, 2.3% of extortion and usury, and 1.7% of sexual assault.

Over the past three years, citizens’ sense of insecurity, as manifested in the fear of being a victim of homicide, has increased (for 16.3% it has increased, while it has not for 6.1%).

The survey then asked participants whether they had experienced forms of physical or psychological violence in the family. More than one in ten (11.6%) had experienced humiliation and insults; 5.6% threats, 4.5% had been victims of stalking, and 3.8% had been victims of family abuse. More than 3% of the sample experienced injuries and beatings, 1.8% home segregation, 1.3% sexual abuse.

One in three violence occurred in the presence of a minor (33.7%).

The sample was then asked whether anyone they knew had experienced physical or psychological violence in the family setting. The percentages go up for all items: insults and humiliation occurred in 20.2% of cases, mistreatment in 15.4%, threats in 14.7%. Respondents also reported that their acquaintances experienced persecution in 12.3% of cases, beatings (11.3%), injuries (9%), sexual assault (5%), home segregation (4.1%).

More than one-fifth of Italians report having been victims of online shopping scams (21.6%), 18.7% deceptive requests for money from people pretending to be friends/relatives in need, 17.8% theft of authentication data such as name, password, bank references, etc. This is followed by deception by false identity (14.4%), identity theft (13.7%). One in 10 has experienced cyber stalking and 9.1% have experienced email account hacking. Slightly less prevalent is ransomware (6.5 %) and another hateful form of “digital violence”: revenge porn (6%).

One-fifth of respondents report experiencing a violation of their privacy from being contacted online in a persistent manner (20.6%); 19.6% from seeing photos in which they were present posted online without consent; 16.4% from viewing phrases online that revealed personal matters; and 15.8% from being exposed in videos without consent.

Just over 1 in 4 respondents (27.1%) would purchase a weapon for self-defense, 72.9%, on the contrary, would not.

Regarding whether they would use a weapon in the event of a concrete threat to their person and/or family, the sample is split down the middle with 49% responding positively and about 51% indicating negatively.

Ufficio Comunicazione
EURISPES – Istituto di studi Politici Economici e Sociali
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