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Caribbean countries commit to standardising crime and violence statistics

CMC

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | 8:27 AM    

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CALI, Colombia - The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says 15 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have confirmed their participation in a project to unify and share indicators on crime and violence.

The Washington-based financial institution said Bolivia, Guatemala and Panama also expressed intention to join the regional initiative during a two-day citizen security conference, organized by the Municipality of Cali and the project’s coordinator, the Cisalva Institute of the Universidad del Valle.

The event was attended by specialists and government officials.

The Regional System of Standardised Indicators for Citizen Security and Violence Prevention (SES), which has received IDB grant funding for US$2.5 million since 2008, enables Latin American and Caribbean governments to receive “timely, reliable, and comparable data for designing and evaluating public security policies and programmes.

“Before the project, there were no uniform criteria or methodologies on how such data are collected and processed, both among countries and among national institutions, such as the police, prosecutors, or the ministries of public health.

“This lack of standards resulted in varying population estimates and different interpretations of crimes referred to by the same names, among other complications,” the IDB added.

The IDB said that to date, the SES has produced agreements on 22 indicators based on information from more than 140 public institutions in 15 countries and two major cities in the region.

It said the system receives official inputs from Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, as well as from the Municipality of Quito and the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires.

The IDB said SES’s progress and achievements have resulted in an expansion in its membership from its initial six participants.

It is expected that 80 per cent of the countries of the region will be basing their statistics on SES’s unified parameters by the end of next year, the IDB said.

At the same time, the Organisation of American States, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the Central American Integration System are supporting SES as strategic partners.

“In our countries, public security is an issue that is literally handled in the dark. Relevant and accurate information is critical for designing policies that can help reduce violence and ensure safety,” said Jorge Srur, IDB senior specialist in modernisation of the state.

He said each of the countries participating in the SES has created technical units that validate regional indicators, making it possible to compare rates of homicides and kidnappings, deaths from firearm and traffic injuries, suicides, allegations of sexual offenses, domestic violence, and child and adolescent abuse.

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