Switzerland is considered one of the few safe countries in Europe, given its low crime rate; according to a recent survey the homicide rate was 0.7% lower than the average of 2.1%. Nevertheless many still admit that they have a haunting fear of crime and violence in the country. What precautions can you take to protect yourself? Who do you contact in case of emergency? Read on as we provide a few helpful tips.
Although the crime rate is low, the most common crimes in the country are theft, pick pickpocketing and purse snatching, which frequently occur in the vicinities of train and bus stations. It is increasingly important to keep an eye on your belongings especially during the peak tourist periods, i.e. during the summer and winter breaks when there is a lot happening in town.
Certain cantons in Switzerland experience higher crime rates than others, Zurich for example has a high rate of violent crime compared to other cantons. While 17.5% of the population lives in the canton it is responsible for 30.9% of aggravated assault crimes. On the other side of the coin, Geneva has relatively high theft rate in comparison to its population. It is responsible for 29.25% of vehicle break-ins and 27.89% of pick pocketing given its population of 5.79%. The question is whom do you contact if you become a victim of a crime?
Who to Contact When a Crime Occurs
Switzerland has a rigorous special assistance program to help victims of crime and their immediate relatives. This type of assistance is available throughout its 26 cantons; the program must be applied for, the local police will also assist you if necessary in applying for this program. This special program protects the right of the victims during the proceedings and offers medical, psychological, social and legal assistance.
When a crime occurs and you are a victim of the crime or a witness to a crime you should contact the local police. The local police number is 117, for emergencies and medical ambulance service the number is 144 and for the fire department dial 118.
Facts on Filing a Police Report
It is vital to report a crime to the police or cantonal prosecution service as soon as possible; you can report a crime at the local police station verbally or in writing. If you do not have legal capacity to file a police report your legal representative can do so for you. You have a three months period from the time of the crime to file a report if you are aware of the perpetrator’s identity. A person can only file a criminal compliant if he or she is the actual victim of the crime.
On the other hand, you can also report a crime even if you have not been personally affected by it; nevertheless you are not obliged to do so. Given such a situation you can report the crime at the local cantonal police station verbally or in writing, you can also report the crime even if you do not know who perpetrated it.
For a criminal proceeding to take place the police have to investigate the case in the local canton, when the investigation has been completed the public prosecutor’s office decides whether to bring charges or not. The public prosecutor is also responsible for bringing the case to the court and conducting the trial, during the proceedings the accused can provide evidence that he or she is not guilty.
When the case has been relegated to the court the judge will listen to the evidence and then issue a verdict at the end of the trial. An individual has the right to appeal but should consult a lawyer prior to doing so. If you reported a crime you can ask the respective authorities to see if criminal proceedings have been sought or not.