Implementing Holistic Security Strategies to Reduce Crime and Violence in Ecuador

Benitez, Gustavo

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Controlling crime, violence and insecurity is a great challenge in many parts of the developing world. By 2008, Ecuador had seen a worrisome increase in its rate of violent crimes, most emblematically the homicide rate that reached 18.9 per 100,000 inhabitants. The government demonstrated a weak capacity to prevent and react to crimes and other risks, as well as a little capacity for joint work among institutions to cope with the worsening crime rate. Many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean – the most violent region in the world – have experienced high rates of insecurity due to violent crime.

However, Ecuador dramatically reduced this level of violence. By 2016, homicides had fallen to 5 per 100,000 inhabitants, and seven of the crimes that most affect citizen security had decreased. Several innovative measures contributed to the remarkable change in the country. The state expanded the use of technology, including video surveillance in cities and transports, and the gathering and use of statistical data to allow georeferencing of hot spots, in order to better allocate resources for crime prevention and to respond to other threats. Another element was the creation of the SYS-ECU-911, a system for national coordination among public agencies, as well as with private organizations and NGOs that receive and meet the needs of citizens; SYS-ECU-911 enabled organizations to better deal with emergencies reported by citizens dialing 911, and siting security infrastructure where needed by citizens. The SYS has optimized the response time to respond to emergencies. Last, but not least, the government adopted policies and public actions based on certified data, with its Government by Results system to meet objectives, analysis of hot spots to prevent risks, and decentralization policies to bring its responses closer to citizens and their ground-level realities. This enabled public security institutions to work in accordance with the realities of each zone, which improved public perception of the government's efforts to combat crime, address emergencies, and advance integrated security.

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KDI School of Public Policy and Management, Global Delivery Initiative
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