THE KEy ROLE OF GOvERNMENTS
of the country.A first National Conference on Public Security was held inAugust
2009, with representatives from across government sectors, state and local govern-
ments and civil society, to shape and support the development of the strategy.
and chapterVI on civil society engagement.
E . Public education and the media
There are some major reasons why Governments must engage with the public
and the media on crime prevention issues and their strategy. Public policy can be
driven by public anxiety and demands for tougher action, in the absence of a clear
understanding of the alternatives. In almost all countries the media tend to focus
balanced information, they are willing to support crime prevention.
In Canada, for example, while media coverage sometimes suggests that the public
would like more police and tougher sentencing of offenders, when public views are
specifically sought, strong support for a preventive approach is often apparent. A
number of public opinion surveys have indicated strong positive attitudes towards
investment in prevention programmes.
to 25 per cent who thought handing out tougher sentences is the best
" 67 per cent of Canadians believe that crime prevention is more cost-effective
than law enforcement in reducing the economic and social costs of crime to
In El Salvador, a study of public perceptions of crime and insecurity found that
more thought that developing prevention programmes and citizen awareness were
the best ways to combat crime.
their responsibility to prevent crime was the most important response.
" 96 per cent of the public in El Salvador thought prevention programmes an
effective way to respond to crime.
J.V. Roberts and M. Grossman, "Crime prevention and public opinion",
Canadian Journal of Criminology,
vol. 32, 1990, pp. 75-90. Similar results have been found in a number of polls, such as that conducted by the
Environics Research Grouping, 1997; and Ekos Research &Associates in 2002 and 2004.
José Simeón Cañas, "La victimización y la percepción de inseguridad en El Salvador en 2009", Instituto
Universitario de Opinión Pública (IUDOP),
Boletín de Prensa, año XXIV, No. 5, 2009.