Balkan Criminology

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A Max Planck Partner Group

Research Focus II

Research Focus II: Feelings and Perceptions of (In)Security and Crime

According to a UNODC report from 2008 the Balkans seems to be the safest region of Europe. Macedonia for example has a lower murder rate than Portugal or Sweden and Romania turned out to be far safer than Finland or Switzerland (UNODC, 36). Could this relatively high level of safety affect feelings and perceptions of (in)security and crime in the region? Little comparative research has been undertaken in this respect, but the findings available allow for careful conclusions that fear of crime levels are higher in some countries of the region when compared to Central Europe (Getoš & Kury). Research into fear of crime and perceptions of (in)security are being conducted by Dr. Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac.

Similarly to the general lack of comparative criminological research in the Balkans, European and international victimization studies usually do not cover the region (e.g. EU ICS), which makes it difficult to fully understand and interpret fear of crime findings, especially in light of the well known deficits of official crime statistics and the ‘dark number’ issue (on the situation of regionally comparable official crime statistics in the Balkans see Ilir & Maljević & Getoš et al). The MPPG for ‘Balkan Criminology’ therefore strives for including Croatia as well as the whole region in the relevant European and international victimization studies through the ‘Balkan Criminology’ Network. A first step in this direction is the successful participation of the MPPG for ‘Balkan Criminology’ in the International Self-Report Delinquency Study through its ad hoc project ‘ISRD3 Croatia’. The first results will be analysed in the diploma research project conducted by Reana Bezić's, who within the framework of the MPPG is specializing on quantitative criminological research studies.

Although there is no solid scientific evidence that fear of crime or feelings of insecurity related to crime deserve a ‘standalone’ position in the criminological field of research, since these fears and feelings strongly correlate with more general fears and feelings of insecurity unrelated to crime (for more detailed argumentation see Getoš & Giebel 2012a; 2012b), the findings in this area are still worth exploring. Mainly with regards to the role they might play in the creation and (de)evolution of criminal law. This becomes probably most obvious when looking at ‘dangerous’ offenders and sexual violence. Criminological penal reform analyses should therefore be closely linked to research on feelings and perceptions of (in)security and crime, as well as to victimization surveys and official crime rates, especially since the region is going through broad criminal justice reforms, potentially linked to this feelings and perceptions.

MPPG contact for research focus II: Reana Bezić