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Crime rates in Lima are inaccurate

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Official crime figures collected by various institutions are contradictory and multi-sourced, according to a study by El Comercio published yesterday.

Crime experts have taken note of the inconsistencies of crime rates of Lima for the last few years and have found that multiple institutions that provide figures have different recording and categorizing systems.

The most recent poll conducted by El Comercio and made by Ipsos Peru, found that 71% of the population of Lima thinks that crime and insecurity are the main issue of the capital. These surveys demonstrate that crime exposure varies by socioeconomic status across the city. In opposing sectors A and E, crime rates were highest at 85% and 82%. In sector E, gang violence was the main problem.

Interestingly, the Ministry of the Interior (MININTER) announced last Thursday that victimization figures had gone down a solid 10% in the last three years. It was not revealed how this played across all sectors of socioeconomic status, however, the recent poll by El Comercio still holds that for the last four years, 71% of Lima has felt insecurity and crime to be the biggest problem for the capital. Therefore, these numbers appear contradictory.

According to the investigation, the contradictory numbers are due to lack of a technical centralization in a unified digital system of data.

At the moment, the National Police of Peru, the Public Ministry, the Institute of Information and Stadistics (INEI), the Institute of the National Penitentiary, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, and the municipalities each individually record reports and information on crime and insecurity in their own unique matter.

For this, Juan Huambachano, chief of the Observatory of Crime of the Ministry of the Public sees a lack of system and centralization.

If we had a technological digital system it would be of great help, said Huambachano.

Keep in mind that there are crimes that are not necessarily crimes and some agencies take them into account. One thing is adding complaints and another is adding victims, as does the INEI, he argues.

One positive effort by the government to amend this issue is the establishment of the Statistics Committee Inter-agency of Crime (CEIC) in Feb. 2013. At this point in time the committee has worked to standardize homicide rates in the capital.

Roberto Villar, the technical secretary of the National Council of City Security (CONASEC) supports the work of the CEIC.

Two years ago, the numbers of homicides, for example, were mixed. Today, thanks to the work of the Public Ministry and the INEI, we have the same statistics. This is important to adopt policies. In the coming days, we will release figures of crime and victimization, affirmed Villar. Crime remains the top concern for those living in Lima, despite contradictory statistics.

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Hillary Ojeda

Hillary moved to Peru in August of 2014 to learn Spanish, live with her family, and pursue writing. Born and raised in Bakersfield, Ca, Hillary earned her B.A. in Anthropology at University of California, Berkeley. Since moving to Peru she drinks fermented potato and coca concoctions daily and is enjoying learning about the abundant and natural andean foods of the country. Hillary hopes one day to become an investigative journalist. You can follow her blog.