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Fear of crime less frequent finds new LSE research

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Fear of crime is much less common than previously thought, shows a report published today.

It finds that many people who say they are worried about becoming victims of crime are actually expressing an awareness of risk, but also vaguer fears about the breakdown of society and looser moral standards. They rarely worry for their own safety, yet they remain concerned about crime in their neighbourhood and in their society.

Photograph of a police officerThis 'diffuse' anxiety is especially common among the middle-class says the report, Experience and expression in the fear of crime, which is jointly written by Dr Jonathan Jackson of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Dr Jackson said: 'Fear of crime is more often a broader anxiety than a concrete fear about the threat of victimisation - but in any case, these emotions are all bound up in public concerns about social change and the health of the norms and values that underpin our society.

'Our study does show a genuine fear of crime - experienced as intensely frightening episodes where there is seen to be real danger - but contrary to received wisdom, this was both rare and tended to occur amongst those who lived in high crime areas and those who had been either a victim or had known a victim.'

The study, which is co-authored by Dr Stephen Farrall of Sheffield University, explored both how people experience fear of crime and also how they express that fear. It concludes that 25 per cent of people are worried or frequently worried about crime. However a further 21 per cent are categorised as anxious - reflecting the fact that they worry less about concrete episodes of crime and more about the disintegration of their neighbourhood and a perceived increase in anti-social behaviour.

Photograph of a chained metal gateThe authors conclude: 'The anxious represented a group which was in the middle of society in terms both of their social position - a home-owning group, living in areas with low levels of ethnic variation, high levels of professional workers with good financial resources. Their experience of crime was also of the middling sort: they witnessed little of it, experienced less still, and lived in areas with low levels of deprivation and disorder. In many respects the group of people we referred to as the anxious were generally drawn from amongst the better off members of society.'

Their research project was funded by the Economics and Social Research Council. It drew on data from the 2003-2004 British Crime Survey and on interviews with residents of West London, Northumberland and Glasgow.

Ends

For more information contact:
Dr Jonathan Jackson 020 7955 7652
LSE press office on 020 7955 7440

Press cuttings

United Press International (20 May)
Many fear crime, but it's more anxiety
Although many people fear crime, a British study suggests real, immediate threats to people are rarely encountered. Dr Stephen Farrall of Sheffield University and Dr Jonathan Jackson of the London School of Economics found that people did not neatly separate out the issue of crime from general anxiety toward social stability.
http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Health/2008/05/20/many_fear_crime_but_its_more|
_anxiety/2581/| 

Guardian (19 May)
Fear of crime linked to community concerns
People are more likely to fear crime if they are worried about social change and their community breaking down, a study reveals today. Stephen Farrall, of Sheffield University, co-authored the report, Experience and Expression in the Fear of Crime. He said it showed fear of crime was an important indicator of any societies' wellbeing.

His co-author, Jonathan Jackson, of the London School of Economics, added: 'Fear of crime is more often a broader anxiety than a concrete worry about the threat of victimisation - but in any case, these emotions are all bound up in public concerns about social change and the health of the norms and values that underpin our society.' http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/may/19/fear.of.crime| 

Politics.co.uk
ESRC: Fear of crime or anxiety about a rapidly changing society? 

The Financial
Fear of crime less frequent finds new LSE research
http://finchannel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=|
12941&Itemid=9| 

Innovations Report
Fear of crime or anxiety about a rapidly changing society?
http://www.innovations-report.de/html/berichte/gesellschaftswissenschaften/|
bericht-110334.html| 

Physorg.com
Fear of crime or anxiety about a rapidly changing society?
http://www.physorg.com/news130420173.html| 

19 May 2008

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