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Czech Police research relationship between crime, poverty and unemployment

Brno, 22.6.2012 19:08, (ROMEA)
Local Romani residents, people from universities and members of civic initiatives joined forces in the "Bronx" of Brno to block a march by neo-Nazis there on 1 May 2011. Photo:  František Kostlán.

News server iDNES.cz reports that police are in the process of conducting a unique research project investigating the relationship between crime and poverty for the first time in the Czech Republic. In the region of South Moravia, Brno and Znojmo are high-risk districts, with Cejl and Francouzská considered some of the worst streets in the South Moravian metropolis.

By comparing the numbers of unemployed people, welfare recipients and the number of crimes committed, a map of risky districts will be created. Brno, Hodonín district and Znojmo district already rank high for these phenomena.

"Poverty produces frustration. Poor people are surrounded by futures they cannot achieve. They are then usually capable of obtaining what they want through other means," says Brno-based psychologist Jiří Brančík.

The study has calculated several parameters for the resulting index, which is comprised of the number of unemployed people per 10 000 residents, the number of welfare recipients, and the amount of crimes committed per capita. As expected, the risk table is led by North Bohemia and the Ostrava district. Brno came in 10th place, ahead of Prague, which is not listed in the 15 most crime-prone regions. Unemployment in Brno is somewhat higher than in the capital.

Brno is second only to Ostrava for per capita crimes. "In large cities there is usually more crime. People have a more relaxed sense of personal freedom in them. In a village, everyone knows everyone else, but Brno is anonymous. That leads to the feeling that one can hide," the psychologist believes.

Brno Police Director Martin Kotlan has confirmed that analysis. Police see the most burning problem in the socially excluded localities on Bratislavská, Francouzská and Cejl streets. "A link can be observed here between the types of crime and the position a person is in. We estimate that 95 % of the petty pickpocketing thefts are committed by residents of those localities. However, these people do not commit those crimes directly in the locality, as is often wrongly assumed," Kotlan said.

Kotlan believes the problem of Brno's "Bronx" is linked to employment. "Today we have the second generation of children growing up there who have never seen their parents work," Kotlan said.

Jana Horváthová, director of the Museum of Roma Culture, believes excluded localities in Brno need to be given more attention. "They need more field social workers to do professional work with these families. The problem is that all of the children in this segregated locality attend one school, so their social handicap is perpetuated," Horváthová said.

This problematic part of Brno is popularly called its "Bronx" after one of five boroughs in the city of New York. In the US, the Bronx became infamous, mainly in the 1960s, as the most brutal part of the city, where the drug trade flourished and muggings were committed daily. To this day it is one of the poorest parts of New York. It is also famous as the home of breakdance and hip-hop.

Gwendolyn Albert, iDNES.cz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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