Czech research finds excluded residents, including Roma, fall victim to crime more than others
The inhabitants of socially excluded localities are more frequently the victims of crime than are others in the Czech Republic, and those endangered by crime are first and foremost young people and those of Romani ethnicity or nationality. Those are the findings of a survey undertaken by the Faculty of Arts at the University of West Bohemia in Plzeň which, under the direction of Ladislav Toušek from the Anthropology Department, spent roughly 18 months in selected such locations in the Moravian-Silesian and Ústecký regions.
Šárka Stará, spokesperson for the university, told the Czech News Agency of the findings on 25 February. Among the most frequent forms of crime, according to the researchers' findings, are hate-motivated violence, theft, threats of violence, and vandalism.
Roughly one-fifth of all inhabitants of excluded localities were subjected to all categories of crime during the last year. Every fourth respondent to the survey reported having been discriminated against during the past year, most frequently when seeking housing and jobs.
Crime is perceived by the inhabitants of socially excluded localities as a serious social problem, but they see unemployment as the most burning problem in general. The respondents who are most frequently concerned about crime are women, the eldest members of the communities, and the inhabitants of bigger cities.
Respondents have the most faith in crime prevention assistants and the least faith in local governments. The team has published a key outcome of the project, a monograph entitled "The Labyrinth of Crime and Poverty: Crime and Victimization in Socially Excluded Localities" (Labyrintem zločinu a chudoby: Kriminalita a viktimizace v sociálně vyloučených lokalitách).
According to Toušek, that monograph contributes, for the very first time, empirically-based conclusions about the state of crime from the perspective of the inhabitants of these localities. "We are interested above all in victimization, which is a process whereby somebody suffers harm as a consequence of other people's behavior, including the non-performance of duties," the researcher said.
"The residents of these localities are victimized significantly more frequently compared to non-excluded residents of the same municipality," Toušek reported. While nine out of 10 inhabitants of socially excluded localities said they have been victimized by crime at some point in the past, approximately one-fourth of those same inhabitants said they had experience with breaking the law themselves.
The research collective comprehensively investigated the state of crime and related phenomena in Czech socially excluded localities for three years. The researchers first conducted surveys using questionnaires in 300 socially excluded localities throughout the entire Czech Republic about many subjects - from social problems to fear of crime, from assessments of the institutions providing security to respondents' own experiences as victims of crime and discrimination, from investigations by child welfare authorities and police to respondents' own experiences with committing crime.
A slightly adapted questionnaire was then completed by people living in the same municipality but not in an excluded locality. After that, the researchers spent 18 months in the two regions and augmented their quantitative data with interviews and observation.
The aim of the project, "Security Risks of Socially Excluded Localities", which ended in November 2018, was to contribute to knowledge about crime in such places in the Czech Republic. The research was supported by the Czech Interior Ministry.
One part of the project is a methodology for crime prevention that draws from three workshops that were held with experts. More information and the publications from the project are available at www.brizolit.org.
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