Almost 40 percent of Prague residents feel unsafe, says study


Recently the GfK reserach & polling agency released the results in an on-going long-term survey examining the extent to which people feel threatened by crime and unsafe areas near their own homes. The study looked at all fourteen regions in the country, with areas like eastern Bohemia's Pardubice, or southern Moravia's Zlin getting the best results. Only around twenty percent of respondents felt threatened there, while areas like Karlovy Vary and the Czech capital Prague fared far worse. Jan Velinger has more.

The new poll by GfK has attempted to show where Czechs feel most threatened by local crime: answers are of course "subjective" but nevertheless indicative about how people feel about their surroundings. I spoke to the agency's Michal Straka, one of the authors of the study:

"The idea was to find whether Czechs felt threatened by crime near their place of residence. The second thing was whether people thought police were doing enough. 3,000 people were polled and the areas that finished with the highest numbers were Karlovy Vary, Usti Nad Labem and Prague: all at around forty percent. There, citizens were most wary. The findings in Prague generally reflect statistics done by the Interior Ministry, suggesting an average of 500 crimes per ten thousand people. In particular Praguers are most afraid of car theft and violent robbery, almost twice as afraid as anywhere else."

Not surprisingly, satisfaction with police work ranks lowest in areas where crime is seen as a greater threat, although a number of people I spoke with in Prague said they thought the situation was improving. Among them is well-known pop musician Pancho who lives on the edge of a rough-and-tumble park near Prague's Andel business district.

"I personally feel quite safe because I'm a pretty big guy and usually people leave me alone. But my wife and I live on the edge of a park which can be pretty brutal: in the summer all kinds of homeless people and drug addicts take it over. Two people were found dead there in the past, one policeman was injured. I personally haven't had any trouble, but if it's late at night I'll always accompany my wife. Or if she leaves somewhere earlier than me, she'll take a taxi right to our door."

Singer Pancho is not alone in using common sense regarding unsafe areas. Most of the other people I spoke with on the streets of Prague on Wednesday took a similar approach.

Young woman: "I am from Zizkov. I'm not scared because there are a lot of police cars near my house at night."

RP: Are there any areas that you avoid?

"In general, I avoid all areas where you can't see properly, parks and areas without lights."

Woman, early 30s: "I don't feel safe. I had things stolen from my car several times and I have seen people rob cars, that kind of thing."

Man: "I don't think that Prague is such a big problem. Maybe if you live near the Main Station because of the homeless and so on. But otherwise I don't think Prague is a problem."