Fear of crime stays high | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

Fear of crime stays high

/ 05:10 AM December 08, 2018

Every SWS report on public safety has two parts: 1. victimization by street-robbery, home-burglary, violence and carnapping, and 2. fear of burglary, fear of being in the streets at night, and the visibility of drug addicts in the neighborhood (see “Third Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey: Families victimized by common crimes rise to 6.1%,” www.sws.org.ph, 11/29/2018).

Last week, SWS reported, firstly, that families victimized by any of the four common crimes rose to 6.1 percent in September, from 5.3 percent last June.  (So-called “index crimes” like murder, rape and kidnapping are impractical for tracking by social surveys since their victims are few, and are generally reported to the police anyway. Common crimes, on the other hand, go mostly unreported by the victims.)


Secondly, SWS reported that those fearful of burglary fell to 52 percent in September, from 55 percent in June, and that both fear of being out at night (46 percent), and visibility of drug addicts (41 percent) were unchanged from June.

The first part of the report, about the rise in victimization in the past quarter, rated a reaction from the Palace spokesman that it did not worsen public fearfulness.


To me, the third quarter’s movements in both victimization and fearfulness are very minor; they do not change the big pictures over three decades.  Those big pictures are shown in the charts and tables, updated quarterly, of the SWS public safety reports. They are the entire forests, for which the new survey shows only the new trees.

The long-term trend of common-crime victimization is downward. In 1989-92 (only nine  surveys at that time), the annual average victimization was between 28 and 35 percent of families. In 1993-98, when the surveys became quarterly, the annual average range was 15-28 percent. The average range became 11-14 percent in 1999-2000,

9-13 percent in 2001-10, 7-10 percent in 2011-16, and then 6 percent for 2017-18 so far.

Thus, victimization by common crimes has been falling for many years already. The credit for this goes to six successive administrations, not only to the current one.

But the fear of crime has been steadily high. The average annual percentage of adults saying that people in their areas are usually afraid that robbers might break into their homes was 47-56 in 1986-91, 48-54 in 1992-98, 47-51 in 1999-2000, 44-56 in 2001-10, 52-60 in 2011-16, and 54-57 in 2017-18 so far—or steadily half of all the people, in over three decades.

The counterpart percentage saying that people in their areas are usually afraid to walk in their neighborhood streets at night was 39-52 in 1986-91, 44-48 in 1992-98, 39-41 in 1999-2000, 38-50 in 2001-10, 43-50 in 2011-16, and 46-50 in 2017-18 so far—or steadily over two-fifths of all the people.

In 2005, SWS started asking survey respondents if there are already very many people in the neighborhood addicted to banned drugs. The average percentage agreeing with this item was 38-44 in 2005-10, 38-56 in 2011-16, and 41-42 in 2017-18 so far.


This shows the current situation as only the same as when the surveys began. Even though warring against banned drugs has been the current administration’s prime emphasis, its impact on the visibility of addicts has been no better than that of the previous two administrations.

People in the National Capital Region (NCR) feel the most unsafe. In September 2018, those fearful of burglary were 66 percent in NCR, versus 53 in Balance Luzon, 49 in Visayas, and 44 in Mindanao. Those afraid to walk in their neighborhood at night were 59 percent in NCR, versus 46 in Visayas, 45 in Balance Luzon, and 42 in Mindanao. Those noticing drug addiction were 63 percent in NCR, versus 42 in Visayas, 39 in Balance Luzon, and 30 in Mindanao.

Are the public safety agencies deliberately favoring the President’s home area, and discriminating against so-called “imperial Manila”?

Contact [email protected]

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TAGS: column, crime, opinion, Public Safety, survey, SWS
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