- Close to four out of 10 Africans (38%) say they have felt unsafe walking in their neighbourhoods. South Africans are most likely to feel unsafe walking in their neighbourhoods and to fear crime in their homes, while residents of Niger, Ghana, and Mauritius feel safest.
- More than half (56%) of those who say they were victims of a crime in the past year did not report the crime to the police. The main reasons why victims do not report crimes to the police are issues related to police performance, such as their unwillingness to listen or care and the possibility that they would demand a bribe.
- Only about half (53%) of citizens say they would go to the police first for assistance if they were victims of a crime. Only about four in 10 Africans (41%), on average, say it is “easy” or “very easy” to get help from the police.
- Fewer than half (49%) of citizens say their governments are performing “fairly well” or “very well” in reducing crime. Across 16 countries tracked since 2002, average ratings of government performance in fighting crime have not fluctuated significantly, although assessments within individual countries have improved significantly in Botswana, Malawi, and South Africa, while performance ratings have declined by more than 20 percentage points in Kenya and Mali.
- On almost all indicators, average results across 34 countries mask enormous variation in the experiences and perceptions of individual countries.
Crime and insecurity are major challenges in African countries, threats to both national development and individual quality of life. According to the Legatum Prosperity Index, which assesses countries’ safety and security as part of national wealth and well-being, only 11 African countries rank in the top 100 countries worldwide in safety and security; the top-ranked African country (Benin) is at No. 50 (Legatum Institute, 2014). The U.S government rates crime in most African countries as either critical or high (U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council, 2015).
This paper examines how Africans themselves perceive the problem, based on data from Afrobarometer surveys in 34 African countries: how safe they feel, whether they report crimes, how easy or difficult they find it to get help from the police, and how they think their governments are performing in fighting crime.
Graph: Reasons why crimes are not reported to the police | 34 countries | 2011/2013
Related dispatch: Citizens’ perceptions of crime and safety in Africa.
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