Crime & Safety Reports: OSAC’s Primer for Security Abroad
With over 25,000 reports online, OSAC.gov can give security managers and analysts, as well as other international travelers, information on a large variety of issues all over the world. Of all those reports, the Crime & Safety Reports are the most popular. What makes them so popular, and why should you be sure to use them in your professional—and personal—capacity when making decisions about security abroad?
What is the OSAC Crime & Safety Report?
OSAC's Crime & Safety Reports are the best way to learn about the basic security issues that affect travelers. The reports are produced every year for almost every country in the world; in effect, they can help every traveler going abroad. The reports are produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Offices at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. These offices are the in-country location for Special Agents of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the part of the State Department charged with keeping official American interests safe overseas. OSAC, an office within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, is mandated with sharing security-related information to the U.S. private sector operating abroad. While much of its analytic production is accessible only to registered organizations behind a password, the Crime & Safety Report is available to everyone with Internet access via OSAC.gov.
What locations do Crime & Safety Reports cover?
OSAC produces over 200 Crime & Safety Reports each year, for nearly every country in the world. Some very small countries located close together, which share similar security issues and are districted together under the same U.S. Embassy, may share one report. Some very large countries, where there are varied security conditions or where there are multiple U.S. embassies and consulates nationwide, may have multiple reports, usually labeled with the name of the city where the U.S. diplomatic presence is located. (For instance, there are two reports for Nigeria: the Abuja report discusses security in the capital and the northern parts of the country; meanwhile, the Lagos report discusses the southern half of the country.)
What issues do Crime & Safety Reports cover?
OSAC Crime & Safety Reports help with most of the basic issues every traveler should know when visiting a foreign country. The main sections of the report deal with crime, terrorism, and political violence (including protests). But, depending on the report, they could delve into important issues such as road conditions, medical security issues, natural disasters, cybersecurity, information security, and other important security topics. All reports contain useful contact information for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, local emergency numbers, and medical facilities.
I see "ratings" listed in the report. What does that mean?
OSAC itself does not rate or rank countries based on their security conditions. However, we are fortunate to be able to take advantage of ratings provided by the State Department; the ratings are found in each Crime & Safety Report. The system is four-tiered, encompassing "Low," "Medium," "High," and "Critical" levels. Assessments are made to the relative threat from crime, terrorism, and political violence, and figure in such concerns as local law enforcement capabilities, recent trends within the local threat environment, and a forward outlook. It is important to note what these ratings mean.
Ratings are available for each location where you will find a U.S. embassy or consulate. This means that several countries (such as Nigeria) may have multiple ratings because they host multiple U.S. diplomatic facilities; whereas others (such as Guinea-Bissau) have no rating because they host none.
Ratings are based on the assessed threat to official U.S. government interests (including facilities and personnel) in a city; they are not based on a threat to private U.S. interests (including organizations or private travelers), nor are they based on a threat to local interests or to the country as a whole.
Ratings are not static; they generally are re-assessed annually, although in some extreme cases they can change more frequently.
How should I use the OSAC Crime & Safety Report when I travel?
We recommend you read the report for your destination prior to travel, so you can gain a good understanding of the security environment you're about to enter. Print the report out so you can read it on the plane. Download it to your device to keep emergency numbers handy during your travel. Private-sector security managers may wish to include the report with a packet given to employees, students, missionaries, or other travelers associated with their organization before travel abroad. You can even give the reports to family members of travelers to help them better understand the locations to which their loved ones are traveling.
What else does OSAC have to offer?
While OSAC focuses on the security of the private-sector traveler, many of our resources are available to the general public. Apart from the Crime & Safety Report, we also feature messaging from the Bureau of Consular Affairs (Travel Advisories), as well as Alerts disseminated from embassies and consulates to note short-term security issues. Access any of these reports on OSAC.gov, have them sent directly to your inbox via our OSAC daily report digest, and read them via OSAC's Twitter handle, @OSACState.
For a printable report, please download the attached PDF found under each report under "Attachments." Web browser pop-up windows may need to be enabled. Refresh the webpage if the PDF attachment does not appear.