10/13/13 (written by cmolzahn) — According to a recent survey conducted by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, INEGI), Mexicans consider transit authorities (Policías de Tránsito) to be the most corrupt law enforcement agencies in the country, eclipsing even the often-maligned municipal police forces. All of Mexico’s police forces had a rate of perceived corruption of over 50%, while the Mexican armed forces were considerably lower, as has historically been the case. In its National Survey of Victimization and Perception of Public Security (Encuesta Nacional de Victimización y Percepción sobre Seguridad Pública, ENVIPE), the institute also found that, despite modest improvements over last year’s survey, transit and municipal police departments retain the lowest job approval rates, followed closely by public prosecutors’ offices. The distrust of the law enforcement agents they most commonly come into contact with reflects the high level of frustration and powerlessness that many Mexicans feel in the face of what they see as a continuing public security crisis in their states. In all, 57.8% of respondents consider public security and crime to be the biggest problem faced currently in their respective states, followed by unemployment (46.5%), and poverty (33.7%). Even so, 41.8% of respondents feel that the principle cause for public security problems is poverty.
The ENVIPE survey found that public security agencies across the board were perceived as less corrupt than in 2012, though public distrust of police agencies in Mexico remains high. INEGI reports that 77.8% of respondents perceived transit police to be corrupt, as compared with 67.9% for municipal police forces, as compared with 83.2% and 71.3% in 2012, respectively. Public prosecutors’ offices and attorney general offices followed, with 65% each, as well as for their respective police forces (Policía Ministerial, Policía Judicial). This represents a nearly 5% decline for each from a year ago. 64.4% of respondents see corruption among Mexico’s judges, down just 2% from last year; and the state police forces followed, with 63.7%, as compared with 67.3% in 2012. The remaining agency with over 50% of perceived corruption was the Federal Police (Policía Federal, PF), with a rate of 54.7%, just 2% lower than in 2012. As has historically been the case, far fewer survey respondents found Mexico’s armed forces to be corrupt. 22% of respondents perceive corruption in the Mexican Army (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, SEDENA), and 14.8% in the Navy (Secretaría de Marina, SEMAR), which are rates almost unchanged from 2012.
All of the above-mentioned groups enjoyed an increase in job approval relative to 2012, some more notably than others. 84.8% see the Navy as being very or somewhat effective, as compared with 83% for the Army, numbers that are roughly even to those from a year ago. The Federal Police received 58.1% of responses rated very or somewhat effective, which reflects an ambivalent attitude towards the agency, which was forged under the previous presidential administration with the goal of professionalizing Mexico’s federal police forces. The agency saw just under a 3% increase of perceived effectiveness as compared with 2012, but remains the most trusted police force, according to the INEGI study. Judges received a 49.4% rating of somewhat effective to effective, representing a 5.5% increase from 2012. State police forces saw a 5% relative increase to 47.2%, while public prosecutors’ offices enjoyed a 6% improvement in public perception, with 44.2% of respondents expressing a favorable view of their performance. Municipal and transit police rounded out the bottom of law enforcement agencies with regards to public perception of job performance, with 40.1% and 37.3% favorable responses increasing 5.8% and 4.6%, respectively.
Overall, crime rates rose sharply in 2012 as compared with 2011, according to the INEGI survey. In 2011, the institute found that there were 29,200 crimes committed per 100,000 citizens nationwide, as compared with 35,139 in 2012, a 20% increase. As part of the ENVIPE survey, for the first time INEGI estimated the numbers of homicides, kidnappings, and forced disappearances during 2012. Based on affirmative responses among the selection of respondents to the question of whether any member of the household had been a victim of any of these crimes, INEGI estimates that there were 25,583 homicides in 2012, as compared with the agency’s official tally of 26,037, a difference of just under 2%. Using the same methodology, INEGI estimated that there were 4,007 forced disappearances in 2012, and 105,682 kidnappings. This compares with 718 claims of forced disappearances as reported by the National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH); and 1,317 claims of kidnappings, as reported by the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System, (Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Pública, SESNSP). This represents a reporting rate of just 18% for forced disappearances and 12% for kidnappings.
INEGI expressed that this “cifra negra,” or quantity of crimes that go officially unreported, often out of a fear or distrust of authorities, has remained more or less constant at 92.1% of all crimes. 61.9% of respondents said their reason for not reporting a crime to authorities was because it would be a waste of time, or out of distrust for the authorities. Moreover, 53.2% of respondents who reported crimes to public prosecutors’ offices said that “nothing happened” as a result, or that “nothing was resolved.”