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Civic Technology for Citizen Security: EspantaCacos in the Northern Triangle


Improving the quality of crime data is a top security priority for the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Citizens can play an important role in contributing to this end by reporting criminal activity to authorities. However, due to low trust in the police and the justice system, lack of information about how to report crimes, and costs associated with issuing a formal report, citizens often fail to report crimes. Jóvenes Contra la Violencia (JCV) – a regional organization with presence in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras – proposes a project to increase crime reporting via a web platform and a mobile application that reduces the costs associated with reporting criminal incidents.

The project involves four stages. In the first stage, JCV will update the digital platforms that they have already developed and adapt their functionality to other locations in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The second stage consists of selecting crime hotspots for intervention based on official crime statistics in one municipality per country. The next stage involves promoting the digital platforms by delivering information to citizens in randomly assigned crime hotspots and by placing a dummy dressed similarly to the police called "EspantaCacos." In the final stage, JCV will inform the police about the crime hotspots identified through the digital platforms with the goal of increasing patrolling in those areas. The short-term goal of the project is to increase crime reporting, while the long-term goal is to reduce crime rates by encouraging police presence in hotspots. The sites selected for implementation are Santa Catarina Pinula in Guatemala, Santa Tecla in El Salvador, and El Progreso in Honduras. The evaluation will use randomized control trials (RCTs) in the three countries to provide comparative lessons.

To find out more about this project, click here


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