Basic concepts

According to Sen, development can be seen as an expanding process of real freedoms enjoyed by humans while wellbeing is the freedom to enjoy what we have reason to value (Sen, 2000). In this sense it is certain that the subjective perception and the experience of objective safety in daily life in Italy become of paramount importance in the construction of individual and community well-being. Personal security is part of the foundation of individual wellbeing. Being victim of a crime can result in economic loss, physical and/or psychological damage due to a suffered trauma. The most important effect of criminality on well-being is the sense of vulnerability that it determines on individuals. The fear to be victim of crime can strongly affect personal freedom, quality of life and development of territories. Also the theme of violence is closely related to personal security and quality of life.

Dimensions considered to represent the domain

The complexity of the phenomenon results in the need of taking into account both objective and subjective indicators, because from the point of view of quality of life it is important how we feel when we face criminality and not only how many crimes have occurred.
For objective indicators two dimensions were considered:

  1. Criminality. Criminality is one of the most common threats to personal security in developed and emerging countries. Crime has both a direct and indirect effect on people. Direct consequences affect physical and mental health, economic loss, and can be more or less durable. Also the crime indirect effect should be considered when we analyze its relation with well-being. Indirect victimization involves not only the victims but also their social entourage as well as the wider audience that is affected by the disproportionate attention given to criminality by the media.
  2. Suffered physical and sexual violence inside and outside home. The physical and sexual violence suffered inside and outside home has a direct and indirect effect on people. The effect of suffered violence can persist for long periods, even for the whole life, in terms of ability to manage daily life, medical costs, dependence on others, capacity to achieve happiness. Indirect effects are also cause of insecurity, increased worry and anxiety, from which an obstacle to daily activities may arise.

For subjective indicators two dimensions were considered:

  1. Perception of social and environmental degradation;
  2. Fear of crime.

Finally it was decided to take into account the different moments of the life cycle, that enrich global information with details related to risks characterizing specific phases of individuals life.

List of indicators

  1. Homicide rate: Number of homicide on total population per 100,000.
    It is the only indicator that is not underestimate using administrative data and the only comparable at the international level. Data differ in Italian regions mainly because of the murder of mafia. For several years, the homicide rate has decreased, except for the murders of women by partners, an indicator that instead increased or remained stable. The indicator is available annually.
  2. Burglary rate: Number of burglaries on total households per 1,000.
  3. Pick-pocketing rate: Number of pick-pocketing on total population per 1,000.
  4. Robbery rate: Number of robberies on total population per 1,000. (These last three indicators have a strong effect on the level of perceived security)
  5. Physical violence rate: Percentage of women aged 16-70 victim of physical violence in the last 5 years before the interview on total women aged 16-70.
    The indicator is similar to the one proposed in the OECD How's Life, although the one proposed here refers to a definition of aggression at the same time broader and more precise, unlike the generally found in victimization surveys. This new methodology (which originates from the surveys on violence against women) is based on very detailed description of behaviors that may be more or less severe: from the slap, being punched or kicked, to attempts of poisoning and or suffocation.
  6. Sexual violence rate: Percentage of women aged 16-70 victim of sexual violence in the last 5 years before the interview on total women aged 16-70.
    This indicator provides an estimate of the victims of sexual violence, particularly rape, attempted rape and physical harassment of a sexual nature. For the future data of sexual violence against men will be available too even if the quality of the data collected will have to evaluated carefully.
  7. Intimate partnership violence rate: Percentage of women aged 16-70 victim of physical or sexual violence by the partner or ex-partner on total women aged 16-70 who have or had a partner.
    The indicator detects the violence suffered by women within the couple, be they physical or sexual. Physical violence takes into account any physically violent act from a slap to the attempt to suffocate and strangulate to a threat with weapons. Sexual assault is defined as being forced to undergo sexual intercourse by force or in any other way against the will of the woman.
  8. Worries of being victim of a sexual violence: Percentage of people aged 14 and over who are very or quite worried of suffering a sexual violence on total population aged 14 and over.

    This indicator is a proxy of a future indicator on violence, particularly domestic violence. Currently, the question is open to both males and females.

  9. Fear of crime rate: Percentage of people aged 14 and over feeling unsafe when walking alone in the dark in the area where they live on total population aged 14 and over.
    This indicator is by far the most used when it comes to the perception of insecurity, however, it is also criticized, because according to some study, it measures not only the fear of crime but also the fear of personal vulnerability. However, the scientific group, as well as the OECD, considers this a key indicator for measuring insecurity and its impact on the quality of life. This indicator is related to some types of crime suffered, such as the theft, robbery, assault and sexual harassment, as well as indicators of social deprivation and the perceived risk of crime in the area where you live.
  10. Concrete fear rate: Percentage of people aged 14 and over who are afraid of becoming concretely a victim of crime in the last 12 months on total population aged 14 and over.
    The indicator of situational fear, refers to situations of fear experienced concretely and complete the framework of subjective perception. Interviewees are asked if in the last 3 months they were afraid of being subjected to a crime and with which intensity. In case of negative answer they are then asked if they have experienced this situation in the last 12 months and how many times.
  11. Social decay (or incivilities) rate: Percentage of people aged 14 and over who often see elements of social and environmental decay in the area where they live on total population aged 14 and over.
    The indicator is calculated as a combination of individual variables, such as how often you see people who sell drugs or take drugs or vandalism in your area. It is considered appropriate not to include the variable inherent the presence of homeless which has a different interpretation and distribution. Further studies are need to decide if to include the presence of prostitutes looking for clients in your area because the distribution of this indicator at regional level is very different from that of the others.