Why Public Security?
With rising rates of criminality experienced across the Latin American region, especially in the past decade, the issue of public security has been propelled to the forefront of public debates. It is an issue that contextualises the daily lives of the region’s inhabitants, curtailing choices and decisions, interrupting essential development, and removing the fundamental right to develop one’s life in a secure and peaceful living environment.
Production of Actionable Information
Despite the level of focus on the area, even the most basic statistics and indicators in comparable form have been non-existent.
It is this that led RESDAL in 2007 to engage in a public security program, taking as its premise the value of actionable information for increasing our understanding of these complex dynamics and thus as a basis for effective decision-making.
Our Understanding of Public Security
Rooted in an understanding of security that emphasises its impact on the day-to-day lives of the populace, it seeks to provide baseline information on public security challenges and institutional responses to them, and through this place some order in the ‘chaos’ surrounding the topic.
The program takes as its focus the Central American region, which has been the subject of a turbulent mix of common and organised crime in which the activities of domestic and international criminal groups come together and overlap, creating huge challenges to be confronted by States and political systems whose very legitimacy is rooted in their ability to provide a secure living environment.
The outputs of the program include the production and compilation of up-to-date and comparable indicators of crime and violence, presented in country-specific and regional formats that provide a tool for better understanding the nature and scope of the challenges being faced. Alongside this, a comprehensive mapping of the institutions linked to public security is provided, unravelling the inner workings and activities of actors related to the area.
The Public Security Index covers the Central American isthmus, incorporating the cases of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua. It provides up-to-date and actionable information in comparative and country-specific format on the public security landscape in a region that has become renowned for crime and violence. In addition to indicators of crime and violence, it presents a detailed mapping of the political guidelines, institutions, policies and programs designed to combat the issue, in additional to covering thematic pillars such as the role of the armed forces, private security and border security and migration.
Research in the field
The methodology of the work is based around fieldwork carried out in the cases under study, with multiple visits to link up with actors and officials dedicated to the topic, and further research complimenting this.