Geneva residents report feeling much safer as crime levels fall dramatically

Crime figures in Geneva have returned to the same level as 20 years ago, cantonal police said on Tuesday, while a survey of residents showed they feel significantly safer.

Geneva residents report feeling much safer as crime levels fall dramatically
File photo of Geneva: gary718/Depositphotos

In the 2016 survey, one in three people (34.2 percent) said they felt unsafe, compared to one in two (49.9 percent) in the last edition of the survey, taken in 2013.

Only 14.1 percent said they saw safety and security as the “number one problem” in the area, which was by far the lowest percentage since the police began the triennial survey in 2004. In 2013, 37.8 percent of people labelled safety as their top worry, while in 2010 that figure had been 44.2 percent.

A further 35.7 percent said safety was “a general worry”, representing a significant drop from 45.2 percent in 2013 and 73.9 percent in 2010.

The feeling of safety was reflected in a positive perception of Geneva's police and security forces, with security rated on average 6.7 out of ten in 2016's survey, up from 5.8 three years earlier. Just under 69.9 percent said they thought the police were doing a good job, with the majority of the remaining respondents expressing no opinion and just 8.6 percent viewing the police force negatively.

Police said the results of the local security survey were “more than encouraging” – and that they reflected a decline in criminality across the area.

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After reaching a record high level in 2011, instances of criminality have fallen each year in Geneva, with police saying minor crimes in particular had seen “a spectacular drop”.

In 2016, there were 35 offenses per 1,000 inhabitants; almost half the figure in 2011 (65). The decline was particularly strong in Vernier and the City of Geneva, though the latter remained the area with the canton's highest crime rate, with 48 offenses committed per 1,000 inhabitants last year.

The number of burglaries dropped from 31.2 percent in 2013, while instances of robberies fell from 13.8 percent to 10.2 percent. Physical and sexual assaults were down from 11.4 percent to 8.8 percent.

The number of accidents causing death or injury, including road accidents, had also fallen slightly.

“The decline is such that the canton of Geneva today has lower crime rates than those recorded since the introduction of the national police crime statistics in 2009,” said police.

“Where comparable data are available, current levels are so low that we have to go back to the mid-1990s or even the previous decade to see similar figures.”

Online scams and data thefts however were up compared to 2013, with the crime rate rising from 21.5 percent to 25.1 percent.

To get the results, police questioned a representative sample of almost 5,000 people and analyzed crime statistics in order to develop policing strategies.

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Fire next to Geneva Airport disrupts flights

Flights to and from Geneva Airport were temporarily disrupted on Friday after a major fire broke out just beyond the perimeter fence, a spokesman for Switzerland's second-busiest airport told AFP.

Fire next to Geneva Airport disrupts flights

Black smoke could initially be seen spewing from a construction site intended to be a future centre for asylum seekers.

“Due to a fire at the edge of the runway, landings and take-offs have been suspended since 5:35pm (1535 GMT),” the airport said on Twitter.

“A reopening of the runway, for take-offs initially, is envisaged around 7:00pm (1700 GMT).”

Airport spokesman Ignace Jeannerat in the evening told AFP that the fire was “under control”, but staff needed to “secure the area and remove the debris”.

The fire was “outside the airport perimeter” and “creating a lot of smoke”, he said.

At around 1630 GMT, an AFP journalist noted that there were no visible flames or smoke. Firefighters continued to hose down the building, which is surrounded by scaffolding and tarpaulins.

Some inbound flights were diverted to Lyon and Basel.

Geneva is Switzerland’s second-busiest airport after Zurich. Wedged in on the edge of Swiss territory, the runway is next to the border with France.

In 2021, the airport welcomed more than 5.9 million passengers, down from the pre-pandemic level of nearly 18 million in 2019.