|January 26, 2005|
Sheraton Hotel, Sredetz Hall
Opening Remarks of Thomas H. Peebles, Resident Legal Advisor,
United States Department of Justice, United States Embassy, Sofia
• It is a pleasure to join you today for the presentation and discussion of the results of CSD’s important new victimization survey, entitled “Crime Trends in Bulgaria: Police Statistics and Victimization Surveys.” I am very pleased that the United States Department of Justice was able to provide the funding for this survey, another indication of the close and productive relationship which the Department of Justice and CSD have established in Bulgaria. I am also pleased that key Bulgarian institutions, particularly the Ministry of Interior, worked closely with CSD in the development of the survey.
• It is no secret that the Bulgarian people continue to view crime as one of the nation’s major problems, and they look to their government for progress and solutions. In order to formulate an effective crime-fighting strategy, policy makers and law enforcement officials need a clear picture of the extent of crime in the country. Unfortunately, Bulgarian law enforcement agencies do not yet have a synchronized approach in measuring crime, and official statistics are not always consistent.
• That is why this victimization survey is especially useful. Victimization surveys are internationally recognized instruments for law enforcement. They have been utilized in the United States since 1973, and are used in the European Union and elsewhere. Such surveys provide vital information on the characteristics and scale of the criminal activities they measure, and on the number of these crimes not reported to law enforcement authorities. They provide a forum for victims to describe the impact on their lives of these crimes and the characteristics of those who perpetrate them. They permit comparisons over time and between different geographic areas.
• The CSD survey measured motor cycle, bicycle and car theft; theft from cars; burglary; robbery; pick pocketing and other personal theft; and sexual offenses. It reveals interesting insights about the extent of these crimes in Bulgaria, of which you will hear more this morning. Please note however, that the survey does not address several types of criminal activity of great concern to the United States: organized crime and corruption; trafficking in humans, narcotics and other contraband; financial and cyber crime. No conclusions about the extent of these crimes should be drawn from the survey under discussion today.
• The survey nonetheless marks an important step forward in Bulgaria’s effort to develop a sound statistical basis for measuring crime in Bulgaria, a necessary part of the effort to fight crime more effectively. I congratulate CSD for its good work in producing this survey on a subject of great importance to Bulgaria. Thank you very much for your attention.