Global Law and Order

Majority of the World Confident in Police, Feels Secure

More than six in 10 people worldwide say they have confidence in their local police (68%) and feel safe walking alone at night where they live (64%). One in seven (14%) say they had property stolen from them in the past year and 6% say they were assaulted or mugged.

Gallup complies the “positive” responses to these four questions into a Law and Order index score for each country. The higher the score, the higher the proportion of the population that reports feeling safe. The index score for the world in 2016 is 78 out of a possible 100. Sixty-six countries posted scores lower than this average.

Scores worldwide ranged from a high of 97 in Singapore to a low of 42 in Venezuela. In 2016, as Venezuela spiraled into disorder, just 12% of residents said they felt safe walking alone at night where they live and 14% expressed confidence in their police. Both percentages are not only new lows for Venezuela, but also the lowest scores Gallup has measured worldwide since 2005. At the same time, 38% of Venezuelans said they had had property or money stolen in the past year - a record high. In only five countries - all in sub-Saharan Africa - were residents more likely than Venezuelans to say they had been the victims of theft in the past year.

Latin America and the Caribbean Score Lowest on Security

As in previous years, people in Latin American and the Caribbean are the least likely among all global regions to feel secure in their communities. The region scored a 64 on Gallup’s Law and Order Index - unchanged from its score in 2015. Residents of the U.S. and Canada, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Western Europe are the most likely to feel secure, with index scores of 84 or higher.

At the regional leve, the 2016 Law and Order Index scores have remained relatively stable from 2015, changing no more than three points in any of the global regions. Scores for individual countries also changed little. The most notable exceptions are an eight-point gain in Honduras, from 64 in 2015 to 72 in 2016, and a nine-point decline in Niger, from 86 to 77.

The percentage of Hondurans who say they have confidence in their local police rose particularly sharply, from 29% in 2015 to 50% in 2016. About six in 10 (59%) said 2016 they feel safe walking alone in their areas at night, up from slightly less than half (48%) in 2015. These results coincide with a 30% decline in the country’s murder rate in 2016, according to government statistics; Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez attributed the improvement to a security operation that transfers dangerous gangsters to a new maximum-security jail in Santa Barbara.

The increased incident of terrorist attacks in Niger, some in retaliation for the country’s participation in French-led counter-insurgency efforts in the region, helps explain the heightened sense of insecurity in that country.

Venezuelans Least Likely in the World to Feel Safe Walking Alone at Night

Just 12% of Venezuelans say they feel safe walking alone in their area at night - the lowest figure ever recorded since Gallup began tracking this question worldwide in 2005. The next-lowest figure in 2016 was more than twice as high: 28% in El Salvador. Among the 12 countries in which residents are least likely to say they feel safe walking alone at night, five are in Latin America. Another six are in sub-Saharan Africa - including two of that region’s more economically developed countries, South Africa (37%) and Botswana (38%). Soaring crime rates in these countries reflect a common problem among societies that have experienced uneven economic growth from industrialization or technological change: high levels of income inequality. In some cases, the resulting instability threatens the pace of progress.

In most economically developed countries with strong rule of law, high majorities of residents say they feel save walking alone in their areas at night. This response is nearly universal in Singapore at 97% and tops 80% in many Western European countries. The U.S. is somewhat further down the list, at 76%.

This feeling is also high at 92% in Uzbekistan, a reminder that security is sometimes attained at heavy cost in terms of civil liberties. Uzbekistan is the only country surveyed worldwide in which no residents said they had been assaulted or mugged in the past year. However, the country is sometimes described as a police state. Singapore is a remarkable success story by many measures - but it has been subject to criticism regarding civil liberties such as freedom of speech.

Assault Most Commonly Reported in Sub-Saharan Africa

For the first time in 2016, Gallup's Law and Order Index includes the proportion of adult residents in each country who say they have been assaulted or mugged in the past year. Globally, 6% of adults in 2016 said they had. The results vary significantly by region, however, from 2% in the Commonwealth of Independent States to 14% in sub-Saharan Africa.

There are 14 countries worldwide in which at least 15% of residents say they have been assaulted or mugged in the past year, led by Liberia (27%), South Sudan (24%), Uganda (23%) and Central African Republic (23%), All but one of the 14 are sub-Saharan African; the lone exception is Venezuela, where 22% say they have been assaulted or mugged in the past year. Sub-Saharan African also saw the largest increases on this measure by country between 2015 and 2016 - in Kenya, where the proportion who said they had been assaulted rose from 11% to 19%, and in Zambia, where it rose from 8% to 16%.


Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 or older, conducted throughout 2016 in 135 countries. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error ranged from 2.1 percentage points to 5.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

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