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Rise in break-ins leave French feeling unsafe

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Rise in break-ins leave French feeling unsafe
Gendarme stands in front of objects found after police dismantled a ring of burglars in the Côte d'Or region. Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP/File
15:36 CET+01:00
Almost a quarter of residents in France feel unsafe in their own neighbourhoods, a new survey revealed on Thursday. The growing level of insecurity has been put down to a rise in burglaries across the country.

The feeling of insecurity among the French is on the rise.

A new study published this week by the National Observatory of Crime and Punishment (ONDRP) revealed that 22.1 percent of the population say they feel unsafe in their own neighbourhood.

The number of people feeling insecure continues to rise year by year, the study showed, which will be a growing concern to a government, which has talked tough when it comes to fighting crime.

The rise in anxiety comes despite figures revealing a fall in the numbers of violent crimes, but the forces of law and order have not been able to put a stop to the rise in burglaries.

"As well as the impact of burglary - often experienced as a violation of privacy - we can also see the huge effect that the public debate on security has had on people," said Christophe Soullez, director of the ONDRP.

"We cannot hide the impact that certain crimes have. Delinquency is far from being a fantasy.," he said.

The ONDRP study, named "Victimhood" also showed that 17.1 percent of the population felt unsafe inside their own home.

That compares with 16.3 percent who felt that way in 2012 and 13.3 percent in 2008.

Among the findings, the report said that 53 percent of people count crime “among the three most serious problems affecting French society”, also the highest percentage since 2007.

The sentiment is matched by statistics that show a rising number of break-ins, although most of them are not reported to authorities.

The inquiry found that residents declared 4.2 million thefts or attempted thefts in France last year, which represents two or three times the official figures, the report said.

However, only 39 percent of the victims filed a complaint for theft and 20 percent reported attempted thefts.

Crime an issue in Paris

Rising crime has become a focus of debate in Paris's upcoming mayoral elections.

One of the candidates for mayor in the city's 17th arrondissement, former police chief Frédéric Péchenard, likened Paris to the New York neighbourhood of the Bronx because of its problem with criminals.

Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoë earlier this month announced the deployment of 300 extra police officers in response to a rise in high-profile robberies. 

The ONDRP this week published another study showing that foreigners were responsible for an increasing share of thefts in 2012 (27 percent, up from 17 percent four years earlier).

Romanians, Tunisians and Georgians were among the chief culprits, according to the report.

The robberies are often a case of “organized crime” or “networks” targetting homes “without seeking confrontation neither with the victims nor with forces of law and order”.

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