The beginnings of Statistics can be traced back to the ancient Egypt, where it was possible to collect data on the population and wealth of the country. Such record was made with the objective of preparing the construction of the pyramids. Ramses II made a land census in order to verify a new distribution.
Babylonians used small clay tablets to collect data about agricultural production and barters.
Every five years, Romans were used to carry out a population census and public officials had to record births, deaths and marriages, apart from the regular livestock counts and the resources contained in conquered lands. The figure of the Censor, whose mission was to control the number of inhabitants and their distribution through the territories, was created.
William I of England made the first exhaustive records of people, animals, properties and disputes, published in 1086. He also built up the first database of homicides of Middle Age, with regular and periodic information of homicides at regional level; it was recorded data about the victims and the offender when he/she was identified.
Graunt published a manifesto with gross figures of births and deaths in London, as well as natural, social and political causes of those events. He is considered the father of Statistics and Demography.
The first documented use of a victimization survey was in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, where the City Council, responding to citizens' complaints, entrusted six people to go by every home in the city asking door to door to all citizens, if they had been victims of some crime and, if applicable, the characteristics of such crime suffered.
For the first time, Adolphe Quetelet and Andre-Michael Guerry observe that the crime incidence varied according to the physical and social environment. They used maps to identify criminal acts trends.
Also known as the “Father of modern Statistics”, he remarks the regularity with which certain social phenomena (crimes, suicides) happen. He states that Statistics could lead to understand their causes.
At the Brussels Statistical Congress, the gathering of crime statistics at international level was taken into consideration for the first time as part of a set of common interests among nations. The objective was to report statistics that were comparable.
The congress recommended establishing statistical tables with detailed explanations of all crimes included in general codes or special laws of any country as a basis for criminal statistics, with the aim of establishing a database and a general classification of crimes that would be applicable in all the countries.
In London, it was held the International Congress on the Prevention and Repression of Crime, where the problem of the international comparison of the different definitions used in criminal statistics arose; this problem has been present in the subsequent efforts to collect information.
Two centuries after conducting the victimization survey in Denmark, the second victimization survey in Scandinavia (Norway), carried out by the Gallup group, is documented.
Hans von Henting publishes The Criminal and His Victim: Studies in the Sociobiology of Crime, where the figure of the victim is rediscovered, after a long period of just focusing on the study of the offender.
Frederick Wertham scientifically employs this term in his book The Show of Violence.
Criminologists began to understand the weaknesses of administrative records and looked for alternative methods that would offer a more accurate description of criminal phenomena, such as victimization surveys.
United States, with the sponsorship of the President’s Commission on Crime and the Census Bureau, conducts a pilot study on victimization that sought to obtain dark figure estimates. A significantly higher level of crime than the one registered in the official police records was identified, which showed that victimization surveys were the most appropriate method to identify the victimization that was not reported to the police.
During this time, surveys were strongly influenced by feminist and victimology theories, which emphasize the opinions of victims regarding their victimization. Victims support associations are created and the first assistance programs with state funds are achieved.
In 1970 and then in 1973, Finland carried out what probably was the first national victimization survey, in alliance with Gallup Finland.
In order to investigate the nature and causes of crime in the United States of America and to recommend policies to address it, the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) was conducted for the first time in this country by the U.S. Census Bureau, a statistical project that is carried out annually up to now and is an international reference for victimization surveys.
The first victimization study in the region was conducted by the University of Panama. This study was carried out as part of a program of the University of Santa Bárbara and included studies in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Panama and Peru. However, the only results that were published were the ones of Panama.
In 1973, the Netherlands began its first crime national survey, which covered the period 1974 - 1980 as an extended survey of the Research and Documentation Centre of the Ministry of Justice and from 1980 to 2005 as the Annual National Survey on Crime Statistics in the Netherlands.
In 1975, the National Crime Victimization Survey was conducted in Australia, carried out by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This survey has been carried out so far on an annual basis in order to obtain data on a selected range of personal and domestic crimes.
The second study that was carried out in the region was conducted in Mexico, in the city of Jalapa, by the Texas Department of Public Safety. Seven years later a similar study took place in Mexico City (former Federal District).
The survey covered only three small areas of London, and together with trying to determine the extent and nature of non-reported crimes, they were included also questions to measure victims' perception of crime trend and their attitude towards the criminal justice system.
The United Nations establishes the United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems also known as the Crime Trends Survey (UN-CTS), with the objective of obtaining information mostly focused on criminal incidence worldwide.
This global study takes up administrative sources as police, judicial systems, courts and prisons. The data collected covers the period from 1970 to date. This series of surveys was initiated by the General Assembly in 1984 when the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) requested the maintenance and development of a United Nations database related to crime, continuing with the completion of the Crime Trends Survey. The 2017 edition also includes a section that collects information on victimization surveys. This survey is carried out annually by UNODC.
In that same year, the National Association of Financial Institutions (ANFI) conducts a victimization study in the cities of Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla and Cucuta.
Prepared by the Statistics Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations, the first edition of the Manual is presented with the purpose of helping governments to make decisions based on the collection of reliable data on crime in countries, based on a model of statistical organization of information on the criminal justice system. This manual was updated and published again in 2004.
The United Kingdom launches the British Crime Survey (BCS). The first implementation was carried out in England, Wales and Scotland, and stands out as the first attempt to handle a sample of more than 10,000 people over 15 years of age. The survey was designed to estimate criminal acts and questions were added to identify risk factors for victimization, effects of crime on victims, fear of crime, experiences of victims with the police, in addition to other types of contact with the police and self-reported crimes. Subsequently, Scotland continued its own independent survey.
Currently called the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), it is conducted annually in England and Wales through the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and is used to evaluate and develop policies of prevention and reduction of crime.
Canada’s National Statistical Agency (Statistics Canada) carries out the General Social Survey (GSS), which has been carried out every five years since then. The survey asks informants to report information on victimization related to eight types of crimes.
This year INEGI begins the design and implementation of the First Survey on Crime Incidence in Mexico City and the state of Mexico. This survey was also applied in 1990, 1992, 1993 and 1997. In these implementations, similar surveys were conducted for the cities of Monterrey, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Cuernavaca and Ciudad Juárez.
The International Crime and Victimization Survey (ICVS) was carried out for the first time and it was repeated in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2010. At first, it focused on developed nations and subsequently expanded to developing countries. These studies, in addition to offering comparative data, also provide some figures on crime trends in several of the participating nations. It should be noted that no country in the Latin America and Caribbean region was considered.
Colombia and Brazil present the first victimization modules in multipurpose surveys in the region. The latter carried out the first national survey in the region, the "Pesquisa Nacional de Amostra por Domicilios (PNAD)", conducted in 1988 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). Although this effort was not conducted periodically, in 1998 and 2009 the victimization module was included once again.
Latin American and Caribbean regions participate in this second survey: Argentina (Buenos Aires), Brazil (Rio de Janeiro) and Costa Rica (San José). Since 2002, other Latin American countries have been incorporated: Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru.
The Ministry of Justice, Security and Human Rights of the Nation (MJSDH) of Argentina began carrying out victimization surveys in 1995 in Buenos Aires, incorporating since 2007 the main cities in the country. The collection instrument used was based on the ICVS questionnaire.
In 2017, the Ministry of Security of the Nation and the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses signed an agreement to carry out the first National Victimization Survey (ENV).
At the end of the 20th century, and at the beginning of the 21st century, there was a boom at the international level to include victimization modules or to carry out studies or surveys, which continues up to date. For instance: Barbados (2002), Malawi and South Africa (2003), Mauritius (2004), Philippines, Nigeria and South Sudan (2005), Jamaica and Venezuela (2006), Cape Verde and the Dominican Republic (2007), Costa Rica, Benin, Rwanda, Sierra Leone (2007) and Uganda (2008), Spain, Egypt and Tanzania (2009), Central African Republic (2010), Ghana (2010), Kenya (2010), Liberia (2011), South Korea, El Salvador and Peru (2012), Brazil (2013), India, Kyrgyzstan (2015).
However, various political, economic, social and knowledge situations have prevented these countries from institutionalizing the survey, and/or turning it into a regular practice (minimum every 2 years) based on internationally accepted methodology. For more information on the current status of victimization surveys at the international level, consult the Atlas of Victimization Surveys of the Center of Excellence.
ENSI-1 was carried out in March 2002 with data from 2001 and a sample of 35,001 households, while ENSI-2 was conducted in August 2002, collecting data for the first half of the same year and a sample of 35,174 households. ENSI-1 and ENSI-2 were carried out by the Citizens’ Institute for Studies on Insecurity (ICESI) as a non-governmental organization interested in measuring violence and insecurity in Mexico. Since 2005, INEGI participated in the design and survey of ENSI-3 in 2005, subsequently INEGI was responsible for conducting ENSI-6 in 2009 and ENSI-7 in 2010.
The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) is the agency responsible for generating statistics of national interest in Mexico. Among its responsibilities, is to promote the integration and development of the National Statistical and Geographic Information Systems. One of the most important demands of the Mexican population has to do with the security and integrity of people. Sensitive to this priority, INEGI proposed in 2002 to integrate the Subsystem of Statistics on Violence within the National Statistical Information System. Within the framework of the integration of this subsystem, the need to have reliable information on the perception of security of the inhabitants and to estimate the reported and unreported criminal acts at the national level was identified. Within this context, INEGI worked with the Citizen Institute of Studies on Insecurity (ICESI) to prepare the National Survey on Insecurity (ENSI-3) 2005.
The objective of this survey would be to obtain information at the national and state levels and in 17 selected urban areas, which allow for knowing the perception of insecurity, characteristics of crime, dark figure, impact of crime on the victims, the relationship of these with the justice system and knowing the environments conducive to victimization.
Chile conducts the National Urban Citizen Security Survey for the first time through an agreement between the Ministry of the Interior and the National Institute of Statistics (INE).
ENUSC is created with the aim of analyzing in greater depth the roots and effects associated with crime, and of acting on them through programs and public policies. From 2005, it acquires an annual periodicity and until 2017 it has been carried out at least 14 times.
ENUSC was the first institutionalized victimization survey in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) offers a minimum set of key issues and international methodological standards suggested to be included in national victimization surveys, which encourage the international comparison of the results.
The Center of Excellence for Statistical Information on Government, Crime, Victimization and Justice (CoE) was created in 2011, with the purpose of initiating technical cooperation activities between UNODC and the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico (INEGI). Its main objective is to strengthen statistical and analytical capacities and monitoring them in the fields of government, victimization, crime and justice, in order to generate quality information that serves as a basis for decision-making.
In this year INEGI raised for the first time the National Survey on Victimization and Perception of Public Safety, in response to the request of the National Public Security Council to provide the data in order to generate the indicators of perception, victimization and institutional performance of the Evaluation System approved by the Permanent Information Commission, to deliver data that are useful for public policy decision making. ENVIPE has the purpose of making estimations of crime incidence, characteristics of crime, victims and the context of victimization. Furthermore, it seeks to obtain information on the perception of public safety, opinions on performance and experiences with Public Safety and Justice Institutions. This survey had the technical support of UNODC and is the second institutionalized victimization survey in Latin America and the Caribbean, which has been carried out annually since then.
In 2011, the Survey on Victimization, Practices and Perception of Violence and Crime (EVIC) was carried out in the cities of La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. The survey was conducted by the National Observatory of Public Safety, under the Ministry of Government of Bolivia between September and October 2011. Bolivia did not continue the survey the following years.
The National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), together with the High Council for Citizen Security and Coexistence, carried out the Citizen Security and Coexistence Survey (ECSC), whose objective is to generate statistical information on criminal dynamics associated with problems of security, as well as the perception of security.
The survey has been carried out at least 5 times from 2012 to 2016 as part of the national policy to improve the national crime information system and decision making. The ECSC was the third institutionalized victimization survey in the region.
In 2011, the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) requested Mexico, through the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), to assess the situation of crime statistics at the international level. In 2012, the same Commission requested Mexico through INEGI and UNODC to develop a road map to improve crime statistics. In 2013, both institutions presented to the UNSC and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) the "Roadmap to improve the quality and availability of crime statistics at the national and international levels", which was approved by both Commissions that same year.
This map proposes to improve the quality and availability of crime statistics by a number of objectives and related actions, which should be implemented in a gradual and coordinated way in the next decade:
In November 2013, the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) presented the results of the Survey on Victimization and Perception of Insecurity (ENVIPI) 2011, which was carried out by the INEC through the Integrated System of Household Statistics (SIEH) within the framework of the Special Interinstitutional Commission for Citizen Security and Justice of Ecuador. The country did not have the possibility to continue with the subsequent survey implementation.
The draft of the first International Classification of Crime was developed by a task force established by the Conference of European Statisticians, led by UNODC and the Economic Commission of Europe (UNECE). This framework was approved by the Conference of European Statisticians at the 60th plenary session, in June 2012. In 2015, the ICCS was reviewed and approved by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ).
The ICCS is a classification based on internationally agreed concepts, definitions and principles in order to improve the international consistency and comparability of crime statistics, as well as improving the capacity for data analysis at national and international levels. UNODC encourages countries to use this classification as a basis for their Systems of Criminal Justice Statistics, including victimization surveys.
Meeting organized by the Center of Excellence in Statistical Information on Government, Crime, Victimization and Justice (CoE), in which various aspects concerning victimization surveys were discussed, concluding that there was a disparity of methodologies that did not allow comparing data at regional level. Consequently, an action plan was adopted, which included the creation of a Task Force to develop common methodologies that optimize the implementation and comparability of these data. To refer to this initiative, the Task Force agreed to name it as the Latin America and the Caribbean Crime Victimization Survey Initiative (LACSI).
Held in Cali, Colombia, its main objectives were to establish minimum methodological aspects that ensure the comparability of data on crime victimization in the region.
Held in Mexico City, its main objectives were to establish the basic crimes that a victimization survey must measure, among other issues.
Held in Panama, its main objective was the consensus-based standardization of a nuclear questionnaire for the investigation of nuclear crimes, as well as an annexed questionnaire for the investigation of non-nuclear crimes, the inclusion of the conceptual definitions of the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS) and the creation of a technical guide of the best methodological standards for Victimization Surveys.
Held in Mexico City, the best methodological standards are established for the sample design, the data collection, the data analysis and the dissemination of results. These methodological practices are based on those already published in the UNODC Manual on Victimization Surveys (2010).
Held in the city of Mérida, Mexico, the experiences of applying the regional questionnaire in Panama were shared and the methodology of characterizing the last three (3) incidents of victimization beginning with the most recent one was approved.
After a successful pilot and national survey in February and June 2016, respectively, on March 24, 2017, the Integrated National System of Criminal Statistics (SIEC), along with the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) of Panama, present the results at the national level of the National Victimization and Public Safety Survey (ENVI), based on the LACSI Initiative, ranking as the 4th country in the Latin American and Caribbean region, and the 1st in Central America to have an institutionalized victimization survey .
Held in September in Mexico City, the experiences of applying the regional questionnaire in Guatemala are shared, the success of measuring the 3 most recent crimes, and the inclusion of a module to measure cybercrime is approved.
The Ministry of Security and the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INDEC) of Argentina present the results of the National Victimization Survey (ENV). The ENV partially takes LACSI Initiative recommendations.
After carrying out its pilot test (October 2016) and the national information gathering (November and December 2017), Guatemala publishes the results of its first National Victimization Survey based in the LACSI Initiative. In doing this, it becomes the second country in the LAC Region that fully implement the methodology of the LACSI Initiative and the fifth in having an institutionalized victimization survey in the Region.
Jamaica carries out the pilot test of its national victimization survey. The base methodology is the one promoted by the LACSI Initiative.