92% of Crimes in Mexico Go Unreported: Survey

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Mexico’s 2012 National Survey on Victimization and Perception of Public Security revealed that almost 92 percent of crime were not reported by victims, due mainly to a lack of faith in police and the judicial system.

The survey, released on September 27 by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), measures victimization of crimes under state or local jurisdiction such as kidnapping, robbery, extortion, rape, and assault, but does not measure federal crimes crimes such as homicide, organized crime, or migrant trafficking.

According to the survey, one out of three Mexican households had at least one resident who was the victim of some form of crime in 2011. The most common crime was robbery or assault, either on the street or on public transportation (28.9 percent of crimes), followed by extortion (19.6 percent). The overall level of crime recorded in 2011 was not significantly different than in 2010.

Despite this high level of victimization, 92 percent of victims did not report the crime to authorities, meaning that 20.5 million crimes went unreported in 2011. 63.2 percent of those surveyed said they did not report crimes because of a lack of faith in either the competence or the trustworthiness of the authorities.

Of those who did report crimes, 61 percent of respondents reported that either “nothing happened” or their case “was not resolved.”

InSight Crime Analysis

The extremely high percentage of crimes that go unreported — a statistic known as the “cifra negra,” or “black statistic” — illustrates the degree to which Mexicans do not trust the country’s police or courts. Citizens’ unwillingness to report crimes due to concerns about corrupt or incompetent authorities has contributed to the country’s abysmally low overall conviction rate, which the Justice in Mexico Project reports at around 2 percent.

Mexico is currently undergoing a major shift in its judicial system as it transitions from an archaic inquisitorial system to a more modern adversarial one with open, oral trials. This process, while slow and often challenging, has been more successful than Mexico’s multiple failed attempts at police reform. Many of Mexico’s legal professionals, surveyed by the Transborder Institute in 2011, hope that the reforms, which include improved legal protection for the accused and further transparency and accountability measures, will eventually improve the legitimacy of the judicial system in the eyes of the Mexican public.

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