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The first nationwide victimisation survey in Azerbaijan provides insights into victim experiences

Despite their widespread use among major industrialised countries, victimisation surveys are gaining traction in post-Soviet landscape only recently.
 
 
Inherent shortages with official crime data have historically made it difficult to gauge the level of criminality in any given jurisdiction, including Azerbaijan.
The nationwide victimisation survey in Azerbaijan by Social Research Centre in mid 2020 is the first of its kind in the country. It sheds light to many unreported, yet widely prevalent offences (i.e. sale of unsafe food and beverage, bribe requests and etc.), as well as crime reporting practices of victims. The survey revealed a number of differences between the self-report victimisation data and official data on crime.
 

Among the sample (n=1214), 38% reported victimisation in the last 3 years. The results suggest vast underreporting (62% of 224 victims), while the most widely reported three offences were "purchasing unsafe food and beverage" (7.7%), financial fraud (5%) and theft (4.8%). As main motives for not reporting their victimisation, 40% cited the option of "we resolved matter in between us (for example, through compensation or reconciliation)". One in four victim felt their report will not make any difference, while almost the same number of respondents did not consider crime serious enough to report.  The main findings of the survey are presented below;


 Stratified random sampling method was employed. All economic regions of the country were surveyed. 1214 respondents were randomly selected in the survey. The survey was conducted through calls to mobile and landline phone numbers. 


 81.5% of the sample had not been victimised in the last three years. 


 Purchase and consumption of poor quality food or drink is the most commonly cited crime among the victims in the last three years (7.6%). The number of victims of theft and financial fraud was 5% and 4.8%, respectively. During the last three years, 4.5% of respondents have faced bribery request by government officials, doctors, the police, or teachers. The people who were physically assaulted made up 1% of the sample. 


 Money is the most stolen property crime amongst the property types (29%).


 Among those facing bribery requests, this was the most common in healthcare (37%), police (20.4%) and education (18.5%) spheres.


 In 62.5% of crimes, the perpetrator was a stranger, while in 12.5% the perpetrator was an acquaintance.


 48.7% and 41% of the victims suffered from material loss and psychological trauma to some extent.


 The highest level of public confidence among law enforcement agencies and the judiciary is in the police (45.1%). When it comes to those who do not trust these institutions, the courts are at the top of the table in a negative sense - 24.2%. Although 36.8% of the sample trust regulatory agencies that perform oversight functions, 21.1% do not trust them. 


 38% of 224 victims filed a report to a government agency or court. In other words, the underreporting level was 62%. 


 The main reason behind underreporting was that the issue was resolved between the parties (40%).


 Looking through the results of other questions addressed to the victims, the majority of them were dissatisfied with the results of the appeals (65%). 


 The majority of people (70%) does not have any safety mechanism in their household. Safe doors and window railings are the most common safety mechanisms (17% and 14%).


 A significant part of the people (70%) said they were unlikely to face theft, and 85.5% said they were unlikely to face physical violence while in the street.


 The rate of fear of property crime is higher than violent crime on the street. (6.2% and 1.4%). 


 Inhabitants of cities and towns rated the likelihood of theft higher than the rural population.


 The majority of the population (88%) do not take any special precautions to protect themselves while walking on the streets.


 Women are more likely to take at least one self-defense measure, such as not carrying an expensive accessory.


 Rural people are more likely to not take any self-defense measures than urban and rural residents are.

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