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Swiss do not feel threatened by crime rise

The Swiss agree that gun sales should be more strictly controlled


The Swiss do not feel less safe despite a rise in crime. But according to a new study, a growing number want to see the death penalty introduced.

The Univox study released on Thursday also found that around 90 per cent of those surveyed are in favour of a more restrictive gun control policy.

Asked whether they felt safe walking alone at night in their neighbourhood, six per cent of the men surveyed said they did not - twice as many compared with 2003.

One in five women said they were insecure in a similar situation, although that was an increase of only one per cent over two years ago, and much lower than the 31 per cent in 1999.

Paradoxically, according to the study carried out by Zurich's GfS research institute and Lausanne's Institute of Criminology and Penal Law, there was a significant rise in crime over the same period.

The number of injuries resulting from criminal acts increased by 46 per cent and cases of rape were up 37 per cent.

Objective and subjective view

"There is a gap between the objective and subjective view of personal safety," Martin Killias, one of the authors of the report, told swissinfo.

"When you interview people about their feelings regarding safety they react not so much to objective crime trends but mostly to what they see in the streets: urban decay, graffiti, drug addicts hanging around and so on," he explained.

"Variations of 10-20 per cent in the crime rate are simply not visible."

The study found a marked rise in the number of Swiss who favour the death penalty, up 11 per cent over the past four years to 33 per cent.

And nine out of ten said they wanted to see tighter restrictions on weapon sales.

"Obviously this means that people simply don't share the views of the gun lobbies who are very well represented in legal decision-making process," Killias said.

The findings are also significant since Switzerland will have to revise its gun laws by the time it officially joins the group of European countries party to the Schengen treaty on fighting crime.

Swiss membership of the Schengen treaty was approved by Swiss voters last June.


Key facts

Did not feel safe:
2005 – men 6% women 20%
2003 – men 3% women 19%
1999 – men 12% women 31%

Favour the death penalty:
2005 – 33%
2001 – 22%

No gun sales to private individuals:
2005 – 90%
2003 – 93%

Licence required to purchase guns:
2005 – 94%
2003 – 96%

end of infobox


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