- Nearly seven in 10 are confident in their local police
- Strong majority worldwide feel safe walking alone at night
- Most Americans are confident in their local police
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- While "law and order" may be one of the issues on the ballot next week in the U.S. election, Gallup's latest update on its global Law and Order Index shows that in 2019, people in the U.S. and in many places around the globe largely felt secure.
The Law and Order Index is a composite score based on people's reported confidence in their local police, their feelings of personal safety, and the incidence of theft and assault or mugging in the past year. The higher the score, the higher the proportion of the population that reports feeling secure. The index score for the world in 2019 was 82 out of a possible 100 -- essentially unchanged from the previous year. Ninety countries posted scores lower than this average.
Countries scoring highest and lowest on the index were also largely the same as in recent years. Scores worldwide ranged from a high of 97 in Singapore -- which tops the list nearly every year -- to a low of 43 in Afghanistan, which ranked alone as the lowest in the world for the second consecutive year.
Custom graphic. Singapore has the highest Law and Order Index score in the world, at 97. Other countries in the Top Ten are United Arab Emirates, Turkmenistan, China, Iceland, Kuwait, Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Uzbekistan.
Custom graphic. Afghanistan has the lowest Law and Order Index score in the world, at 43. Other countries in the Bottom Ten are Gabon, Venezuela, Liberia, South Africa, The Gambia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Botswana and Mexico.
For complete results for all 144 countries and areas, read Gallup's 2020 Global Law and Order report.
Although the U.S. did not make the top 10 most secure countries in the world, it did fare better than the global average in 2019, with a Law and Order Index score of 85. The U.S. is in the company of European countries such as Ireland, France and Sweden -- which all scored an 85 -- and its neighbor to the north, Canada, which scored an 86.
Most People Feel Safe in Their Community
Nearly seven in 10 people worldwide said in 2019 that they feel safe walking alone at night where they live (69%), unchanged from the previous year. But not everyone feels this safe -- percentages worldwide ranged from a high of 97% in Singapore to a low of 12% in Afghanistan.
Except for Afghanistan, the countries in which residents were least likely to say they feel safe walking alone at night were exclusively countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Eight of them also ranked among the least safe in 2018. The exceptions were Lesotho, which was not surveyed in 2018, and Namibia, which narrowly missed making the bottom of the list that year.
Custom graphic. Singapore scores highest in the world on residents feeling safe walking alone at night, at 97%. Other countries in the Top Ten for feeling safe walking alone include Turkmenistan, Norway, United Arab Emirates, China, Kuwait, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Denmark and Saudi Arabia.
Custom graphic. Afghanistan scores lowest in the world on residents feeling safe walking alone at night, at 12%. Other countries in the Bottom Ten for feeling safe walking alone include Gabon, Venezuela, South Africa, Liberia, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Dominican Republic and Brazil.
In most economically developed countries with strong rule of law, the majority of residents said they feel safe walking alone at night in their area. This response was nearly universal in Singapore, at 97%, and topped 80% in many Western European countries.
In 2019, the U.S. was only slightly above the global average, at 75%, which was statistically unchanged from 72% in 2017 and 2018. This percentage edged up to 78% when Americans were interviewed during the first few months of the pandemic lockdown in March through early May 2020. Gallup Panel surveys in June and July 2020 -- amid ongoing protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd while in police custody -- found a similar 80% reported feeling safe. Three other Gallup surveys conducted this year have shown similar proportions of Americans feeling safe.
Most People Confident in Their Local Police
More than two in three adults worldwide (69%) said in 2019 that they have confidence in their local police. The results varied significantly by region, however, from a low of 49% in Latin America and the Caribbean to nearly twice that in Western Europe (83%).
Although residents of Latin America and the Caribbean were the least likely in the world to have confidence in their police, the 49% who were confident in 2019 is the highest percentage on record for the region in more than a decade of Gallup tracking. With a few exceptions, confidence in the police remained stable or improved across most of Latin America and the Caribbean in 2019.
Confidence notably plummeted in typically stable Chile, which experienced some of its worst unrest in decades. Chileans' confidence in their local police dropped from 59% in 2018 to a record-low 44% during protests in which Chilean President Sebastián Piñera later acknowledged the police had committed "abuses."
|Gallup World Poll|
In the U.S., where the future of policing is being re-examined in many communities after the killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police, 79% of Americans in 2019 said they are confident in their local police. When asked again shortly before Floyd's death in 2020, 82% of Americans expressed confidence. Gallup's annual U.S. Confidence in Institutions survey, conducted after Floyd's death, showed a decline in Americans' confidence in the police.
Line graph. Since 2006, most Americans have expressed confidence in their local police. When asked shortly before George Floyd's death in 2020, 82% of Americans expressed confidence.
While Gallup's latest global surveys on people's perceptions of their own security were collected in 2019, before the pandemic, these results provide a baseline for how the world was primed to respond to the challenges that have surfaced in 2020, including those related to law enforcement in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The results show that ahead of these challenges, there is much room to grow. And to grow, things will need to change. Confidence in police, for example, should not be mistaken for complacency. In the wake of widespread protests sparked by the May 25 killing of Floyd, a majority of Americans (58%) said major changes are needed to make policing better.
For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.
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