We found out that not only crime rates were, sometimes significantly, lower in the four districts bordering Abkhazia, but also that the feeling of security was higher there than in the rest of the country. This may come as a surprise. It has however its logic and ought to be linked with the mostly rural character of the region. In Georgia like elsewhere, crime and fear of crime tend to fall as urbanisation decreases. Similarly then, Zugdidi, as the regional urban centre, experiences more insecurity than the remainder of the region. These results offer interesting insights into the local community and break some common sense assumptions: traditional patterns of geographical crime distribution overweight the influence of the territorial conflict on the security situation.
For Georgia as a whole, results presented in table 1 show that crime rates are similar to those prevailing in one of Europe less victimised country, Switzerland. More precisely, we found that assaults were significantly lower in Georgia than in Switzerland, while propertyrelated crimes involving cars were higher. The exact same methodology used in both countries ensures comparability of the results.
This divergence in violent crimes may intrigue. But a closer look to urban lives in these two countries and the very dynamic of contact crime (with violence) simply explain these differences. Take Geneva or Zurich on a week-end night, and compare it with Tbilisi: although the latter is much bigger, there is comparatively no “night scene”, reducing the number of violent assaults, which is known to mainly occur between young males, at bars and discos. Simple theft, such as pick-pocketing, is also significantly higher in Switzerland and follows the same general rule.
Again, this does not mean that more serious crimes such as murder obey to the same trend. As we have seen above, the rates for murder exceed those at European level. They are in line with those in the Caucasus.
However, and this is true for all regions of Georgia, one has to remember that serious crime such as murder (excluding domestic violence) rarely occurs in a criminal vacuum. Previous research attests that “assassinations and kidnappings are related to the shadow businesses across the Ceasefire-line (CFL)”. It does not concern the general public directly, and does not take the form of random killings as sometimes presented by the media, but rather involve criminal organisations or individuals already active in illegal and sometimes competing businesses.
Results on corruption also brought some surprises. The survey allowed us to discriminate between experience of corruption, what we coin “objective corruption” and perception about corruption, what we coin “subjective corruption”. We assumed, contrarily to most organisations working on the subject, that experience/objectivity and perception/subjectivity are not correlated. Results proved that our assumption was valid.
Only 3.8% of the population acknowledged having been in contact during 2005 with a public official asking for a bribe. As we did not ask if the person did pay the bribe asked, we avoided the methodological risk of the “shaming” and consequent potential concealing during the interview. This result can be trusted as valid. It is impressive. Of course, it remains 4 times higher than in most European countries, but it brings some sobriety to the passionate debate on corruption. A previous survey conducted in 2000 with a similar questionnaire showed a 16% of the population as having experienced corruption within a year (in Tbilisi only).
The subjective corruption is, however, much higher: depending on the public official in question, between 22% and 42% of the respondents think that they would be asked a bribe if they were in contact. In short, representation of the public administration corruption is worse than the reality on the ground.
A specific issue addressed in the survey was the corruption in the police. We wanted to put to the test the many reforms and restructuring having taken place within the police forces since the revolution. The evaluation turned out very positive. While 80% of the population considered in 2000 that the police would ask for a bribe if in contact, only 24.6% still thought so in 2006.
In parallel, the respondents answer affirmatively to a height of 74.9% to the more frontal question about the increase or decrease of corruption in the police since five years. This rate reaches 84.9% in the four districts near Abkhazia!
Today police are not anymore, in comparisons to other sectors, a primary source of corruption in Georgia.
In Georgia, when asking respondents how safe they feel, when they are outside at night, in their neighbourhood, we find that 82.2% answer that feel very or rather safe, 16.2% a bit or very unsafe, and 1.6% don’t know. This is undeniably a good result, in line with most European countries.
However, insecurity feeling must be put into context. It largely depends on factors such as the urban density and the type of neighbourhood people live in, and may vary significantly from a place to another.
We observe that insecurity feeling is significantly higher in Tbilisi and in other cities of more than 100 000 inhabitants than in the rest of the country. In the capital city, more than one third (34%) of respondents reports feeling very or a bit unsafe outside at night. In comparison with Swiss cities, this rate is nearly 15% higher.
The results suggest that the police enjoy a very good image within the population, both in terms of readiness to help and of ability to fight crime, and match or even exceed those obtained in most European countries (on average 75% of positive answer for both).
Such a high rates might create a certain degree of perplexity. One could argue that people are not confident enough to be critical about the police and, instead, simply tell they do a good job. However, as will be shown with results on the police image amongst those having reported a crime (and thus having been in contact with the police), respondents dare voice against police performance when needed. <...>
The picture is indeed much bleaker in terms of satisfaction with the police amongst those who have been in contact to report a crime. Satisfaction rates fall to less than 50%, except for assault/threat. The most worrying situation prevails with robberies, where only 1 respondent out of 10 found the police good.
It should be noted that a “satisfaction gap” between those who reported a crime and those who have not is systematically observed in surveys Europe-wide. In Georgia, this gap is however particularly dramatic and require corrective measures.
The principal cause of this dissatisfaction according to the survey lies in the lack of interest the police officer in charge has shown to the case, followed by the fact that the police did not catch the offender.
полный текст доклада - http://www.police.ge/en/Survey/PublicSecurityinGeorgia_final.pdf