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Perceived Safety & Crimes

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Sense of Safety

The study found that many Liberians felt safe in Liberia, and where a sense of insecurity existed, it was mostly associated with local crime and robberies. Over half the surveyed adult Liberians reported their communities to be generally safe or very safe (55%), although one in four (25%) considered their communities to be not at all safe or not very safe. The regions perceived to be the least safe were Greater Monrovia and Rural Montserrado (respectively 36% and 37%).

In respect to specific safety issues, nationally two-thirds of people (65%) reported no safety issues. One in four (24%) mentioned crimes and robberies, although this increased to as many as 43% of the population in the urban center of Greater Monrovia. Nationally, few respondents mentioned other sources of insecurity, but those that did mentioned tribal violence (4%), drunken people (4%), and the presence of ex-combatants (4%). Some safety issues were specific to locale. Tribal violence, for example, was mentioned as a factor of insecurity by 13% of the respondents in Lofa and 8% in Nimba, while those in other counties rarely mentioned this issue at all. Lofa was also the only county where tribal violence was perceived a greater security concern than crime and robberies. On the other hand, Lofa, as well as Sino (where only 1% of the population named tribal violence) both had the highest proportion of people saying they felt safe or very safe (70% and 71%, respectively). For 11 out of 16 administrative regions, witchcraft and ritual killings were either the second or third most commonly named safety issue. 

Figure 11: Safety and Security Concerns

 Safety and Security Concerns


As mentioned, crimes such as robberies were the leading sources of perceived insecurity among respondents. However, the surveyed adult Liberians were also asked which crimes they had directly experienced in the year prior to the survey. The most commonly reported event overall was being a victim of witchcraft (17%). This figure was higher in two counties: one-third of the respondents in Rivercess (35%) and one-quarter in River Gee (28%) reported having been a victim of witchcraft. The high prevalence of this measure is in line with long-standing religious beliefs across most of Liberia, expressed and reinforced through a number of so-called secret societies, such as the Poro in the center and north, who continue to have an important role in Liberian society to this date.[1]

The reported one-year incidence of robbery or burglary was 15%, being a victim of bribery or corruption was 9%, and being beaten with or without a weapon was 7%. In total, the study indicates that 7% of the respondents experienced a crime that involved a weapon in the year prior to the survey. Robberies and beatings were reported most frequently in Greater Monrovia, where respectively 26% and 11% of the respondents reported experiencing these crimes in the year prior to the survey. The second area most affected by these crimes was Rural Montserrado (18% and 10%). It is also in Greater Monrovia and surrounding Rural Montserrado that the proportion of surveyed adult Liberians having experienced a crime involving a weapon was highest, meaning in the past year such incidents have been almost twice as likely to occur in Montserrado than in the rest of the country.

Table 12: Security and Crimes

Table 12 - Security and Crimes


[1] For a thorough descriptions of the role of secret societies and the importance of various religious beliefs in Liberia, see Ellis (2006), pp. 220-80.