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cities & citizens series - bridging the urban divide

of violent death. However, São Paulo has defied conventional diagnosis on this issue by reducing the rate of homicide dramatically in the last decade, despite continued severe income inequalities, racial discrimination and significant educational disparities. A combination of law enforcement activities is widely credited with reducing homicides and other criminal activities. Strict restrictions on weapon sales were introduced in 2003. A gun buy-back programme also took half a million arms off São Paulo’s streets. Restrictions on late-night drinking, especially on weekends, was implemented once new analysis of data showed that more than half of all killings took place around bars and clubs, late at night and between Friday night and Sunday morning. Since 2000, the police force has hired and trained more than 10,000 new officers and implemented more visible forms of public policing, including the introduction of community policing strategies. In addition, specialized units and communication links were established between the military and police. A new intelligence and analysis system that uses GIS technology, Infocrim, has coordinated police activities and made policing more targeted. São Paulo is taking action to reduce violent crime without waiting for underlying social problems to be resolved. Similar efforts in Colombia between 2003 and 2006 resulted in a 15 percent decline in homicides. In Venezuela, however, homicide rates increased 67 per cent over the last decade, despite a booming oil-rich economy and the pro-poor populist government.172

The SEADE/UN-HABITAT data shown in Table 4.8 contains a number of interesting findings. First, there is a clear difference between actual police presence in vulnerable areas and non-vulnerable areas. Those living in nonvulnerable households were almost twice as likely to have a police station in their neighbourhood. This suggests that police resources are not evenly distributed, particularly when it is clear that much of the urban crime takes place in vulnerable areas, where the cortiços and favelas area mostly found.173 The next finding of note is the high level of dissatisfaction by respondents concerning the policing (in terms of presence and surveillance) in their neighbourhoods. Whether households were in vulnerable or non-vulnerable areas, favelas or not, approximately half of all respondents claimed the policing was bad or very bad. Almost the same findings were recorded when people were asked about security in their neighbourhood. Generally, at least half of the households surveyed (and in the case of vulnerable areas and favelas or cortiços, significantly more) felt the security in their neighbourhood was bad or very bad. This is emblematic of the culture of fear and perception of pervasive criminality in São Paulo. Those who live in non-vulnerable neighbourhoods likely harbour fears not about people who live around them, but about outsiders: the poor, the favelados. Likewise, those who live in vulnerable areas and favelas or cortiços surely perceive that violence and crime do not originate from wealthy areas, but from within their own communities. The ubiqui-

Table 4.8: Surveyed popular opinion and perception of police protection and presence in MSP and MRSP Those surveyed in vulnerable* areas of MRSP (%)

Those surveyed in non-vulnerable areas of MRSP (%)

There is a police station nearby in the neighbourhood





Security is bad or very bad in the neighbourhood





Policing in the neighbourhood is bad or very bad





Security is good or very good in the neighbourhood





Policing is good or very good in the neighbourhood





Aspect surveyed

Those surveyed in cortiços and favelas in MSP (%)

Those surveyed in home outside cortiços and favelas in MSP (%)

Source: SEADE/UN-HABITAT, 2006. Note: *= vulnerable and non-vulnerable are six divisions created by SEADE São Paulo based on education and income only. Vulnerable includes the lower three sections from moderate to extremely vulnerable, while non-vulnerable included the three sections from reasonably vulnerable to not vulnerable at all in terms of income and education (i.e., the top deciles).

Profile for UN-Habitat

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Sao Paulo; A tale of two cities  

UN-HABITAT’s new Cities and Citizens series examines urban inequality in the developing world through in-depth analysis of intracity data de...

Profile for unhabitat