illustration for Domain 2 Physical and legal security

Physical and legal security: Inequality in the capability to live in physical safety and legal security


Description

People need to be physically safe and enjoy legally security to live the life they have reason to value. This domain covers the key elements of physical security through indicators and measures that highlight absence of physical security (for example, the experience of violence) as well as subjective measures reporting individuals' sense of physical security and safety. People need to be protected and treated equally and fairly by the law in order avoid inequalities in legal security. This domain covers inequalities in treatment before the law and within criminal or administrative systems.

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The domain covers both objective and subjective measures of physical security. Objective measures include reports of the experience of physical violence where incidents are measured in household surveys as well as police recorded crimes from official statistics. Special attention is given to violence against women (physical, sexual and psychological) and in recent times considerable progress has been made in collecting data on these types of violence (WHO, 2005). Subjective measures include whether people feel physically secure at home, in their neighbourhood and the extent to which people worry about physical attacks. These measures are important for capturing people’s actual experiences of violence and insecurity and can help to overcome some of the problems relating to under-reporting of crimes to the police; particularly some forms of physical violence such as domestic violence, sexual assault, rape and violence perpetrated against children.

The physical mistreatment of those living in institutions (care homes, hospitals, etc.), including those in detention (prison, secure hospitals, police custody) are identified separately in this domain, highlighting the special circumstances and vulnerability of people in these situations. The behaviour of others plays an important role in the capability approach as it can both constrain as well as enhance individuals’ capabilities.

Other forms of physical and psychological violation influencing people’s capability to be and feel physically secure include: the incidence of torture and other forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, female genital mutilation, harassment, kidnap, ‘disappearance’, human trafficking and arbitrary detention. Evidence in the form of reported incidence of these types of crimes collected by NGOs may be used and can give a more accurate picture than official statistics.

The legal system, which includes the law itself as well as broader legal institutions and public administration, should treat all members of the population equally and without discrimination. Legal security in many settings is not only influenced by formal legal mechanisms such as the state judiciary, and different branches of the formal legal system (constitutional law, domestic law, international law, customary law, civil law, etc.) but also by broader legal arrangements and institutions (the quasi-legal system, for example, complaints mechanisms, tribunals and ombudsmen) and informal legal systems (for example, the formal and informal enforcement of religious codes such as Sharia law and other informal legal codes, customs and practices). Therefore, this domain is broadly conceptualised in order to incorporate these different factors.

This domain captures not just the extent to which some individuals are disadvantaged by the legal system but also how some advantaged people can receive preferential treatment. This may be through the nature, scope and range of behaviours that are criminalised; disproportionate power and influence in the setting of laws and how laws are enforced; how those found guilty of committing a crime are punished (being let off without charge or through more lenient sentences). Economic resources often play a key role in determining access to justice and inequalities in legal justice. There is some evidence that increasing inequality has been linked to increases in some types of crime (Hagan and Peterson, 1995; Rufrancos, et al., 2013), and that inequality can undermine the rule of law (Stiglitz, 2012) and lead to increases in preferences for punitive punishment in some countries (Côté-Lussier, 2016). In some countries and contexts the judicial and legal system can be weak, underdeveloped and biased. In other countries, the domestic legal system is at odds with internationally recognised human rights. High quality legal representation is costly and often far out of the reach of the majority, and in some countries reforming the legal system, particularly in relation to legal aid, is resulting in less rather than more access to justice. A number of measures are designed to capture these forms of inequality.

The legal treatment of children in terms of parental rights, rights of children and the treatment of minors before the law are all important aspects of legal security. The principles developed in the context of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provide importance guidance for balancing the rights of parents on the one hand, and the rights of the child, together with the need for legal special protection of the child, on the other.

References and selected readings

Côté-Lussier, C. (2016). "How Rising Social Inequality May Be Fueling Public Demands for Increasingly Harsh Criminal Justice Policies." LSE USAPP Blog.

Diprose, R. (2007). ‘Safety and security: A proposal for internationally comparable indicators of violence’. OPHI Working Paper 1, University of Oxford.

Hagan, J., and Peterson, R. D. eds. (1995). Crime and Inequality. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Lacey, N., and Soskice D. (2015). ‘Crime, punishment and segregation in the United States: The paradox of local democracy’. Punishment and Society. 17(4):454–481

Rufrancos, H. G., Power, M., Pickett, K, E. and Wilkinson, R. (2013). ‘Income Inequality and Crime: A Review and Explanation of the Time– series Evidence’, Sociology and Criminology-Open Access.

Stiglitz, J. (2012) ‘Justice for All? How Inequality is Eroding the Rule of Law’, in The Price of Inequality, Allen Lane.

Vizard P, (2012) 'Evaluating Compliance using Quantitative Methods and Indicators: Lessons from the Human Rights Measurement Framework', Nordic Journal of Human Rights Special Issue - Quantifying Human Rights, No. 3:12, Vol. 30

Vizard P. and Speed L. (2015) ‘Examining multidimensional inequality and deprivation in Britain using the capability approach’, Special issue on Capability Approach and Multidimensional Well-being in High-income Countries’, Forum for Social Economics

WHO (2005). WHO multi-country study on women's health and domestic violence against women.


Measurement considerations

The identification of inequality indicators and the interpretation of measures of inequality in this domain is complicated by the fact that some of the measures relate to illegal, covert and concealed activities, for example, torture by the state and human trafficking. This increases the need to triangulate through the use of multiple sources (for example, in the context of torture, using NGO and human rights allegations data).

In terms of inequality in physical security and personal safety, most of the indicators provide measures on whether or not individuals have experienced a form of physical violence, maltreatment or intimidation (including bullying and identity-based violence). Inequality measures adopted typically quantify differences in the incidence of physical violence and maltreatment between population sub-groups covering the main areas of violent crime, sexual and domestic violence, hate crimes, cruelty, physical punishment and degrading treatment. If possible, and where appropriate, measures of inequality should include breakdowns for key population groups. If information on the number of incidents is available this can be used to compute an inequality measure to capture repeat victimisation, which is often an important feature of, for example, domestic and sexual violence.

Where information is available as an ordinal scale (for example, for perceptions of safety available from surveys where individuals indicate whether they feel: very safe/quite safe/not safe/very unsafe), an ordinal inequality measures can be computed.

In some countries it will be important to incorporate quasi-legal systems: village councils etc.; role of elders and religious ‘courts’ and laws.

 

Click on the button beside each sub-domain to see related indicators, inequality measures and references to any relevant UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators. You may click on the Expand All button to view all inequality indicators, their measures and SDG indicators within each of the sub-domains.

 

Sub-domains:
Be free from violence including sexual and gender-based violence, domestic violence and violence based on who you are
Indicator:
Violent crime
     Measures:

Percentage of population subjected to physical, psychological or sexual violence in the previous 12 months (with separate reporting of physical assault, rape and assault by penetration [including attempts] and other sexual violence), and by gender and age

Reference: UN SDG:
16.1.3

Proportion of population subjected to physical, psychological or sexual violence in the previous 12 months

Percentage of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to physical, sexual or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by form of violence, and by age

Reference: UN SDG:
5.2.1

Proportion of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to physical, sexual or psychological violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by form of violence and by age

Percentage of women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to sexual violence by persons other than an intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by age and place of occurrence

Reference: UN SDG:
5.2.2

Proportion of women and girls aged 15 years and older subjected to sexual violence by persons other than an intimate partner in the previous 12 months, by age and place of occurrence

Percentage of children aged 0-17 years who experienced any physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by caregivers in the past month

Reference: UN SDG:
16.2.1

Proportion of children aged 1-17 years who experienced any physical punishment and/or psychological aggression by caregivers in the past month

Percentage of children aged 0-15 years who experienced any sexual violence in the previous 12 months

Reference: UN SDG:
16.2.3

Proportion of young women and men aged 18-29 years who experienced sexual violence by age 18


Be free from identity based violence and hate crimes
Indicator:
Hate crime
     Measures:

Percentage that are victims of hate crime by: (a) race; (b) religion; (c) gender identity; (d) overall

Reference: UN SDG:
10.3.1

Proportion of population reporting having personally felt discriminated against or harassed in the previous 12 months on the basis of a ground of discrimination prohibited under international human rights law


Be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Indicator:
Bodily and psychological integrity, and physical security
     Measures:

Percentage of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting, by age

Reference: UN SDG:
5.3.2

Proportion of girls and women aged 15-49 years who have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting, by age

Percentage of population victim of physical, psychological or sexual harassment, by sex, age, disability status and place of occurrence, in the previous 12 months

Reference: UN SDG:
11.7.2

Proportion of persons victim of physical or sexual harassment, by sex, age, disability status and place of occurrence, in the previous 12 months

Number of victims of human trafficking per 100,000 population, by sex, age and form of exploitation (Guidance - can supplement through use of data collected by NGOs and human rights bodies)

Reference: UN SDG:
16.2.3

Proportion of young women and men aged 18-29 years who experienced sexual violence by age 18

Number of verified cases of kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture of journalists, associated media personnel, trade unionists and human rights advocates in the previous 12 months (Guidance - can supplement through use of allegations data collected by NGOs and human rights bodies)

Reference: UN SDG:
16.10.1

Number of verified cases of killing, kidnapping, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention and torture of journalists, associated media personnel, trade unionists and human rights advocates in the previous 12 months


Indicator:
Physical security for people resident or detained in public and private institutions
     Measures:

Rates of physical assaults in: police detention; prison; refugee camps; immigration detention centres; children in residential care; young offender institutions; mental health institutions

Rates of elder abuse and other abuse of the non-private household population


Live without fear of humiliation, harassment, or abuse based on who you are; feel able to go out and to use public spaces safely and securely without fear
Indicator:
Fear for personal safety
     Measures:

Percentage that feel very unsafe or unsafe being alone at home and/or in local area (during the day and after dark)

Reference: UN SDG:
16.1.4

Proportion of population that feel safe walking alone around the area they live

Percentage that feel very worried/worried about physical attack, sexual assault, intimidation and acquisitive crime

Percentage concerned about their personal safety using public transport (during the day and after dark)

Percentage paying for security: (a) for personal protection; (b) security guards protecting private property; (c) living in gated communities


Know you will be treated with equality, fairness and non-discrimination before the law, within the criminal or administrative systems; including the absence of corruption
Indicator:
Equal treatment by the police and the legal system
     Measures:

Percentage of population aged 16+ by age, sex and key populations, who the police have: (a) stopped on foot or vehicles; (b) stopped and searched; (c) conducted unannounced property/dwelling search

Percentage who are confident that the criminal justice system (police, courts, prison and probation service): (a) meets the needs of victims; (b) respects the rights of those accused of an offence and treats them fairly

Share of the population who believe that the public administration make fair and impartial decisions

Reference: UN SDG:
16.6.2

Proportion of population satisfied with their last experience of public services


Indicator:
Offences reported and brought to justice: Rape, domestic violence and hate crime
     Measures:

Number of cases of rape estimated from population survey sources, compared with the number of cases reported to and recorded by the police, and the number of legal cases successfully prosecuted

Number of cases of domestic violence estimated from population survey sources, compared with the number of cases reported to and recorded by the police, and the number of legal cases successfully prosecuted

Number of cases of hate crime estimated from population survey sources, compared with the number of cases reported to and recorded by the police, and the number of legal cases successfully prosecuted by: (a) race; (b) religion; (c) gender identity; (d) overall


Indicator:
Fair and equal treatment within the legal system
     Measures:

Percentage of the population who believe that poor people are treated worse by the police

Percentage of the population who believe that the police make fair and impartial decisions

Perception of how fair the courts are to majority versus minority race/ethnic group

Trust in the criminal justice system: (a) trust in courts' procedural fairness and trust in their competence; (b) trust in the police

Perceptions of judicial and police corruptions: (a) how often the police take bribes; (b) how often judges take bribes

Reference: UN SDG:
16.5.1

Proportion of persons who had at least one contact with a public official and who paid a bribe to a public official, or were asked for a bribe by those public officials, during the previous 12 months

16.5.2

Proportion of businesses that had at least one contact with a public official and that paid a bribe to a public official, or were asked for a bribe by those public officials during the previous 12 months

Sentencing disparities: evidence by gender, race/ethnic group, economic or social status


Have fair and humane conditions of detention
Indicator:
Detention: Numbers, physical conditions and rights of detainees
     Measures:

Detention numbers and conditions in prisons (includes prison population numbers, life sentences, numbers facing a death penalty and prison conditions such as overcrowding, sanitation and visiting rights)

Detention and conditions in other establishments: (a) Young offender institutions; (b) Secure hospitals; (c) Immigration centres; (d) Military prisons; (e) House arrest

Percentage of the population held without charge

Reference: UN SDG:
16.3.2

Unsentenced detainees as a proportion of overall prison population


Have the human right to identity, name, gender and nationality
Indicator:
Enjoy right to identity, name, gender and nationality
     Measures:

Percentage of children under 5 years of age whose births have been registered with a civil authority, by age

Reference: UN SDG:
16.9.1

Proportion of children under 5 years of age whose births have been registered with a civil authority, by age