The Mexican government's most recent annual survey of crime victimization rates and perceptions of security shows little improvement -- and some backsliding -- on several key indicators of public safety.
Mexico's National Statistics and Geography Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía - INEGI) released its annual National Survey on Victimization and Perception of Public Security (Encuesta Nacional de Victimización y Percepción Sobre Seguridad Pública - ENVIPE) on September 27 (pdf).
The study estimated that the national crime victimization rate in 2015 was 35,497 per 100,000 inhabitants, a decrease from 2013 and 2014. But while the volume of overall crimes decreased, the number of victims increased from 22.8 to 23.3 million.
After robbery or assault, extortion remained the second most prevalent offense, according to the survey, representing some 24.2 percent of all crimes reported in 2015.
Additionally, 72.4 percent of respondents felt insecure, which is a similar level to previous years. The areas with the highest level of perceived insecurity were the state of Mexico, Mexico City, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Guerrero, Tabasco, and Veracruz.
The ENVIPE, which surveys some 90,000 households throughout Mexico, estimated that in 2015 the cost of insecurity and crime represented an amount of $12.5 billion, or 1.25 percent of GDP. This is the equivalent to more than $100 per person.
Unreported crimes, known as the "cifra negra," increased to 93.7 percent from 92.8 percent. The survey claimed the main reason victims did not report the crime is that 33 percent consider it a waste of time, and 16.6 percent distrust the authorities.
While trust in public security institutions was low, some fared better than others. The marines inspire the most confidence of the security forces -- 87 percent of respondents have some trust in it -- followed by the army at 84.9 percent.
On the other end of the spectrum, 76.1 percent of respondents believe that the traffic police are corrupt, followed by the municipal police at 66.7 percent.
InSight Crime Analysis
Perception surveys are tricky. They give us a snapshot of people's perceptions, but these are often influenced as much by politics and the media as they are by reality. Still, when more than seven out of ten people feel insecure in their own city, as the survey showed, authorities should take note, especially since this same survey found 72.3 percent of Mexicans felt insecure in their city in 2013.
SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles
These perceptions also impact the ability to fight crime. The best example of this is the aforementioned "cifra negra," which also rose. When citizens do not inform the state of the criminal activities, the state cannot act to stop them.
Mexico's current government entered office with the promise of repairing the trust between citizens and its security forces. Instead, it seems to be moving in the opposite direction.