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Brazil joins initiative that generates comparable crime indicators

IDB financed system compiles information from 18 other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean region

Brazil will join a regional system of crime and violence indicators, a tool that enables governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to share and analyze standardized statistical data to better design, implement, and evaluate security policies and programs.

Crime statistics are not always comparable as each country draws its data from different sources, including the police, departments of health and other agencies. Each uses different methodologies to compile the data. Homicide rates, robberies and other indicators may vary considerably from one data base to another. Countries even use different terminologies for specific crimes. To overcome this, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) launched in 2008 the Regional System of Standardized Indicators in Peaceful Coexistence and Citizen Security (SES), with the aim of compiling and harmonizing data, and improving reliability.

The IDB has provided $3.35 million in grant financing for the initiative, which is designed to help governments as they tackle the region´s high crime rates. Brazil has been a pioneer in systematizing information on security. With the adoption in 2012 of its National System of Public Safety, Incarceration, and Drugs — which is coordinated by the Ministry of Justice — the country has improved its storage, processing, and integration of data and information related to public security, prison systems, law enforcement, and control of trafficking in crack cocaine and other illicit drugs.

According to IDB citizen security specialist and coordinator of SES, Jorge Srur, Brazil’s membership will be valuable to the group as a whole. "Countries already belonging to SES will greatly benefit from the data and technical standardization developed by Brazil,” he said. “In addition to sharing data, the countries are eager to adopt efficient methodologies to generate reliable information, and then go on to develop effective security programs.” With Brazil's participation, the system’s statistics will include 90 percent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean. So far, the SES countries have agreed on 22 crime indicators based on information from more than 180 institutions in countries and cities. These numbers will increase substantially with the participation of Brazil, which will be led by the country’s National Secretariat of Public Security.

The system receives official data from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Honduras, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, and Paraguay, in addition to Quito and Buenos Aires. Belize and a number of Caribbean States are considering their participation. The initiative is being carried out with technical support from the Cisalva Institute of Colombia’s Universidad del Valle. Strategic partners include the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Central American Integration System (SICA), and the Organization of American States (OAS), which have worked with the IDB in bringing Brazil into the SES system. With Brazil’s entry, information in the system will also be available in Portuguese.

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