The European Commission co-financed a survey on the levels and the feeling of victimisation , across the EU that measured how citizens feel about their security and safety, independent of actual police records. This initiative is part of the Commission’s effort to let EU citizens have their say in defining priorities for community decision making.
According to this survey, conducted by a consortium of research institutes, “common” crimes such as vehicle thefts, burglaries, robberies, sexual and other assaults have been on the decline over the past 10 years in most EU countries, except Belgium where the survey recorded a soar in robberies and thefts.
Of the 15 “old” member states plus Estonia, Poland and Hungary which were included in the survey, 15 % of respondents claimed they had been a crime victim in 2004 – a drop from 21 % recorded in 1995.
The European Crime and Safety Survey also showed that citizens from the UK, Estonia, the Netherlands and Denmark also identified their countries as key crime hotspots clocking in 30 percent higher crime levels than the EU average.
Ireland and the UK remain the problematic places, with Ireland recording the highest level of violent and sexual assaults plus robberies, while Britain tops the list as the most burgled country.
Within the central and east European countries monitored by the report, Estonia showed a high rate of crime and a low opinion of the police, with all three countries – Estonia, Hungary and Poland – reporting a high number of pickpockets, robberies and thefts from cars.
Safety on the street remains a cause of worry among 30 percent of Europeans surveyed.
The feeling of insecurity – whether on the street or at home – remains, together with unemployment, one of the top issues that the EU should address in order to respond to European citizens worries. The results of this survey confirm and reinforce the results of another poll, carried out by Eurobarometer, in June-July 2006 and published in February 2007, according to which most EU citizens would like to see EU’s role enhanced so that they could live in an environment of justice, freedom and security.
Europeans demand that EU should take action in a field which is not covered by the community methods can be explained either by the fact that they consider national measures insufficient or by their hope that the action of the European Union will be more effective owing to its larger impact.
That is also the conclusion reached by the 800 people who attended the Conference organized by the European Forum for Urban Safety in Zaragoza, November 2006, and which took the shape of the Zaragoza Manifesto