Although the residents of Cuenca still have major concerns about crime, they are feeling safer than they have in years and believe the government’s investment in law enforcement is paying off.
In a survey of the city’s poor residents, who suffer the greatest level of crime, the feeling of safety has risen from 17% in 2010 to 45% in 2014. The multi-year survey conducted by Cuenca’s Polytechnic Salesian University (UPS) also shows that 43% of the poor population would still like to see more police on the streets.
Another survey of the general population, conducted early this year by the University of Cuenca, showed that 80% of Cuencanos believe the crime rate is dropping and that Cuenca is a safer city than it was in past. They also say that having more police on the streets is the main reason.
The UPS survey focused on poorer neighborhoods, according to its sponsors, because they serve as “barometers” of the community at large. “These are most vulnerable people living in the most vulnerable neighborhoods,” a survey summary said. “As the level of crime drops and the people of these neighborhoods feel safer, the feeling of safety also improves throughout the city.”
The University of Cuenca showed that residents appreciate not only the presence of more police but improved response time for crime reports, the installation of security cameras in crime-prone areas, and the higher conviction rate for those arrested.
The survey results are backed up by crime statistics provided by the National Police. The statistics show a 60% drop in the number of murders and violent crimes in Cuenca since 2007, and lower rates for most other crime categories as well.
Local statistics are in line with the reduction of crime nationally.
Ecuador’s Interior Ministry reported in June that homicides had fallen 25% during the first five months of 2015. The ministry said that the country now has less than six murders per 100,000 residents, the lowest on record.
According to InsightCrime, a service that tracks international crimes statistics, the new rate puts Ecuador behind only Chile and Argentina for homicides among Latin American countries.
Interior Minister Jose Serrano said that the new statistics distinguish Ecuador as one of the crime fighting success stories in the world. “The rapid drop in the murder rates, as well as other violent crimes, is significant globally,” he said. He added that the improvement is due to large increases in funding for law enforcement during the administration of President Rafael Correa. When Correa took office, in 2006, the murder rate stood at 18 per 100,000.