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Geneva For Members

Are there any parts of Geneva you need to avoid?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Are there any parts of Geneva you need to avoid?
Plainpalais is not Geneva's safest neighbourhood. Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Even in a safe country like Switzerland cities, especially large ones, have neighbourhoods that might be considered more unsafe than others. Are there parts of Geneva you should avoid? Share your own views.

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Generally speaking, Switzerland, and its cities, are very safe.

The crime rate in the country is among the lowest in Europe, according to an international ranking.  

This is somewhat of a paradox, considering that Switzerland has a high number of firearms in circulation — about 2.3 million in a country of neatly 9 million people.

Yet, despite the abundance of weapons in private hands, the rate of gun violence is very low in Switzerland — even though kids and teenagers own firearms as well.

READ ALSO: Why do so many Swiss youngsters love guns? 

Now, let’s take a look at Geneva

In Geneva too, crime rate is relatively low if compared to other European metropolises.

Cantonal statistics (not yet available for 2023) show that 38,234 offences were recorded in 2021, but that number went up to 43,838 in 2022 — an increase of 15 percent. 

One of the reasons cited for this hike is that criminals mostly stayed put during Covid, becoming more active when the worst of the pandemic was over.

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What were the most common offences recorded in Geneva in 2022?

The main categories were ‘property crimes’ — that is, robberies and thefts.

Vehicle theft (mostly cars and electric bikes) increased by the hefty 42 percent, robbery / forced entry by 20 percent, and ‘simple theft,’ by 18 percent. 

In terms of more serious infractions, which involve bodily harm, there was only one homicide in Geneva in 2022, but hostage-taking and rape increased by 19 percent.

Who commits most of these crimes?

Mostly foreign nationals — particularly French citizens, according to the stats.

The reason is that Geneva is located on the border with France, and crossing the border is easy.

This may sound xenophobic, but official statistics do show that the majority of those apprehended by Swiss police in Geneva are, indeed, French. 

Concretely, out of 7,675 people charged with committing a crime in Geneva in 2022, 5,263  are foreigners; from that, the highest number and the only one exceeding the 1,000-mark (1,061) is attributed to French nationals.

READ ALSO : How the Swiss see their French neighbours — and vice versa

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So which areas of Geneva are most crime-ridden (relatively speaking, of course).

There are no stats available that shed light on the crime rates in certain neighbourhoods in Geneva, but there are media stories that point to problems in certain areas.

But whilst some might say these areas should be avoided, others will have different views.

Paquis

Media reports have suggested this neighbourhood is plagued by drug dealers, and fights have been known to erupt there between rival motorcycle gangs.

Plainpalais

This area has the dubious honour of becoming a ‘new’ Paquis, with robberies reported in this neighbourhood.

Cornavin train station

Maybe it is its proximity to Paquis, or perhaps because train stations often attract petty crime, people are advised to be vigilant in this district.

What are the police doing to lower crime in these areas?

Several years ago, “Operation Figaro” was lunched to reduce petty crime in the city centre — including the above-mention neigbourhoods — which involved additional police patrols.

This measure did not eliminate crime, but offences went down by between 5 and 12 percent, especially during the night.

These days, security in public places is controlled by surveillance videos: security cameras are installed practically everywhere in the centre of town and operate  24/7. 

Although these cameras are meant to guarantee public security in the streets, not everyone likes to be ‘spied’ on.

Now the Edgelands Institute, which studies physical and digital surveillance methods around the world, has launched an interactive map which indicates where these cameras are located. 

It shows a particularly dense concentration of cameras at the Cornavin train station, in the Pâquis district, on the quays of the left bank, as well as in Grand-Saconnex, where the Geneva Airport is located.

Share your views on safety in Geneva. Are there certain parts of the city that you would avoid altogether or at certain times of the day?

 

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