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Editorial: a safer life

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PHOTO: Urmas Nemvalts

Yesterday, justice ministry released crime statistics regarding 2015 revealing a decline in crimes committed in Estonia. At that, it is somewhat deceptive with some indicators as 2015 saw the distinction between misdemeanor and crime from €64 to €200. Thus, they registered 32,500 crimes in Estonia in 2015 which is by nearly 5,000 less year-on-year. The decrease is largely due to the altered standards.

Meanwhile, the numbers of people perished in crimes is in decline these past years. In 2015, 40 people were murdered or killed in Estonia which is twice less than in 2012. Indeed, murders and killings are a vital indicator for crime as these are defined as murders and crimes in more-or-less all societies and will not go unregistered. At that, however, violent crimes are up. More than these indicators, perhaps we ought to underline that people in Estonia perceive life as increasingly safe, as well as the trust towards law and order.

The trust in Estonia towards police and border guard board has been high for years. At the end of 2015 it stood at 86 percent, while in the last five years it has only dropped below 80 percent in 2012 during the unverified speed cameras scandal. For effectiveness of police work, the trust and the close ties to society are vital as when people trust the police they will also help.

Actually, trust towards the police is not related to crime level; in the USA, for instance, the trust is rather low though the statistics show an improvement in the crime statistics. By psychologists, the trust indicators have been rather linked with legitimacy i.e. with how the people judge it right what the police are doing. The assessment depends on various circumstances outside and inside the police, but largely on how successfully and effectively the police communicate with the society, explaining its behaviour and activity. In other words, it’s openness that grants them trust.

Trust is created if society is increasingly involved, if law and order is impartial and during their work show respect towards the people and their rights. In other words, it is up to the organisational culture. The latter has doubtless risen significantly in these past 15 years and may be what has brought the high percentage. The rising trust towards the police has doubtless played a role in the life in Estonia being increasingly safe.

Cartoon: Safer in Estonia!? I beg to differ...

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