Reporting has increased but domestic violence remains the least reported crime in Georgia

Reporting has increased but domestic violence remains the least reported crime in Georgia

This column presents data that was collected for the study ‘Community Expectations with a View to the Implementation of Community Policing in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia’.

The survey was conducted by GORBI within the framework of the EU-funded Enhancing Georgia’s Migration Management (ENIGMMA) project implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). I will also compare the findings from GORBI’s previous survey conducted in 2004. 

Based on these two studies, rates for reporting various crimes to the police have significantly increased since 2004. And there are several reasons for this. The number one reason can be attributed to the reforms made to law enforcement bodies and the justice systems that have consequently increased trust in police and the system itself. Other important elements include the proliferation of auto insurance which, in the case of auto theft, the owner is compensated once a report is filed with the police. 

In the developed world, crime began decreasing (especially among the youth), after the internet “escaped” from military labs and academic institutions and was made available to the general public. This contributed to birth of online games and internet cafés. As a result, young people started spending hours in front of their PC screens rather than on the streets, where they would have been exposed to violence. Georgia somehow skipped this stage of evolution – not because Georgian youth don’t enjoy online gaming, but simply because a decade ago in Georgia the system was corrupt and inept and crime lords were deeply involved in political and business process, crime rates were dangerously high and reporting crime to the police had little or no value. 

According to Gallup’s most recent Law and Order Index, which includes 141 countries, Georgia ranks among the ten safest nations in the world. 

Both in 2004 and 2017 opinion surveys, respondents were asked the same question: what offences or actions should a citizen report to the police? Compared to the 2004 survey data, the number of those who answered ‘should report’ has risen significantly for all categories of crimes as shown in Chart 1 below.   

If we compare the 2004 and 2017 surveys, domestic violence saw the largest increase (a staggering 57 percent) in respondents among the 10 listed crimes who said should report to police. Among these respondents, females prevailed (92 percent vs 82 percent). The education of the respondent was also key, as only 63% of those surveyed with only primary education say the crime should be reported compared with 91% of those who have completed higher education.   

GORBI has been measuring victimization in Georgia for more than 20 years and we have witnessed a dramatic decrease in crime. I remember well the “good old times”, when regardless of the massive amount of security measure I had installed in my car, every morning seeing my car not stolen entirely or some of its part was the best start of the day (seriously!) Today, I no longer worry about leaving my laptop or other valuable items in my car overnight. Without personally living in such an environment, it is impossible to fully appreciate the changes that have been achieved. 

After reviewing the 2017 survey data, Professor Jan van Dijk, the Stockholm Prize in Criminology winner, who helped us to conduct the first International Victim Crime Survey (ICVS) in Georgia in 1992, noted that “The level of property and violent crime (in Georgia) has stabilized over the past five years.” 

This stabilization benefits everyone – both locals and visitors. 

GORBI is a regional hub for partner organizations and international clients. Since 2003, GORBI remains an exclusive member of Gallup International research network for its two decades of experience in survey research in post-Soviet Union countries, as well as Mongolia and Iraq. This data was provided exclusively to the Financial.