Various issues in countering conventional crime are often reasons for criticizing police authorities. Eurobarometer data stipulates that public trust in the police remains rather low – in 2017, 55% of Bulgarians say they do not trust the police. Registering an offence is the first step in the process of criminal investigation. At the same time, a low level of trust as a rule leads to less offences being reported to the authorities, resulting in the so called latent crime phenomenon. The existing institutional and legal framework is rarely subject of public debate and is rather obscure to the ordinary citizen. Various sources of data pertaining to the rate of criminal activity in the country exist – reports made to the 112 Emergency telephone number, police statistics, victim surveys. However, there is no reliable and at the same time easily accessible tool, which would enable civil society to comprehensively monitor the effectiveness of police work in countering conventional crime.
The “Countering Conventional Crime Through Monitoring and Raising Civil Awareness” project aims at developing such a tool, effectively enabling civil society to monitor the results of police interventions and to exert direct pressure at local / regional level, ultimately resulting in building trust and thus increasing the rate of reporting and overall improving the process of registration of offences.
The need exists for a comprehensive analysis of the dynamics of crime at the regional level and the adoption of mechanisms for efficient reporting and registration of crime, as well as relevant follow-up impact assessments. In order to provide institutional support for the implementation of the activities under this initiative, the Center for the Study of Democracy held preliminary discussions with representatives from the professional and political management of the Ministry of Interior. Over the course of the project ministry officials will provide information and will participate in a number of public discussions held locally. Public attitudes will be studies through means of conducting a National Crime Survey, complemented by a number of focus groups and in-depth interviews, while representatives of civic organizations will be provided with the opportunity to participate and contribute with their opinion at specialized public discussions held in a range of cities and towns across the country. The results of the survey will be made public and available to media, allowing for an open debate between civil society and public institutions at the local as well as at the national level.
The most vulnerable regions will be identified on the basis of an analysis of the results of the National Crime Survey, as well as an analysis of official police statistics and 112 data. In regions observing high rates of criminal activity and crime latency, the research team, in partnership with local municipal and police authorities will conduct public discussions, seeking to specifically reach out to the elderly as well as people at risk of poverty.