Dr Jonathan Jackson

Dr Johnathan Jackson

Department: Methodology institute| ;Mannheim centre for criminology| Contact details: tel +44 (0)20 7955 7652;  j.p.jackson@lse.ac.uk| ;LSE experts: Dr Jonathan Jackson|

Johnathan Jackson is Senior Lecturer in Research Methodology in the LSE's Methodology Institute. He has held visiting appointments at the University of Oxford, New York University and the University of Sydney. Jon did doctoral and postdoctoral research in the Department of Social Psychology at the LSE. 

Jon is on sabbatical leave in 2010-2011, visiting the Institute of Criminology, Cambridge in the first half of the year, and the Department of Psychology, NYU in the second half of the year.

Research interests

Public attitudes towards crime, policing and justice; compliance with the law and cooperation with legal authorities; political psychology, ideology and moral reasoning; measurement and latent variable modelling; cross-national survey methodologies.

Currently working on a number of projects:

  • LCat: Latent Variable Modelling of Categorical Data - Tools of Analysis for Cross-national Surveys. ESRC.
  • Trust in the Police and Criminal Courts: Rotating Module in Round 5 of the European Social Survey.
  • EuroJustis:Scientific Indicators of Confidence in Justice. European Commission 7th Framework Programme.
  • Crime and punishment in Santiago, Chile. In collaboration with Universidad Católica de Chile.
  • Out of Touch? Public Attitudes toward Criminal Sentencing. Nuffield Foundation.
  • STEPE: Sensitive Technologies and European Public Ethics. European Commission 7th Framework Programme.

External activities

  • External consultant to the London Metropolitan Police Service: Providing research and methodology training
  • External consultant to the Ministry of Justice: An evaluation of the National Offender Management Service's Structured Communication in Prisons: Tools for Prison Staff



  • Social Order and the Fear of Crime in Contemporary Times Oxford University 2009

    Crime and insecurity have become organising principles in many areas of social and political life, and fear of crime lies at the heart of the debate. Widespread anxieties damage well-being, erode community cohesion, shape public policy and political rhetoric, and motivate much of the current fascination with crime in society. Yet thus far empirical study has lacked the theoretical tools to interrogate the lived reality of fear of crime and diagnose the social and political significance of public anxieties.

     In this book the authors present a new framework that brings together the latest thinking in this area. Presenting quantitative and qualitative data, they show that the fear of crime is a more diverse and expressive phenomenon than has thus far been empirically demonstrated. First, the everyday experience of worry about crime is relatively rare in England and Wales, clustering in areas of high crime and among individuals with experience of crime, with 'fear' most often a general sense of anxiety about risk, as well as an expression of concerns about neighbourhood breakdown and instability.

    Second, people do not separate out crime from general unease about the state of society.  Whether an everyday worry or a diffuse anxiety, 'fear of crime' operates less as an irrational and misplaced public sense of the crime problem, and more as a lay seismograph or barometer of social cohesion and moral consensus. Concerns about crime emerge out of - indeed express - broader concerns about the health of society and the stability, cooperation and moral consensus of one's community.

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  • Jackson, J. (in press). 'Revisiting Sensitivity to Risk in the Fear of Crime', Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.

    This paper considers the psychology of risk perception in worry about crime. A survey-based study replicates a long-standing finding that perceptions of the likelihood of criminal victimization predict levels of fear of crime. But perceived control and perceived consequence also play two roles: (a) each predicts perceived likelihood; and (b) each moderates the relationship between perceived likelihood and worry about crime.

    Public perceptions of control and consequence thus drive what Mark Warr defines as 'sensitivity to risk.' When individuals perceive crime to be especially serious in its personal impact, and when individuals perceive that they have little personal control over the victimization event occurring, a lower level of perceived likelihood is needed to stimulate worry about crime
  • Hirtenlehner, H., Bacher, J., Oberwittler, D., Hummelsheim, D. and Jackson, J. (forthcoming, 2010). 'Kultur, Institutionen und Kriminalität: Eine Prüfung der Institutionellen Anomietheorie mit Viktimisierungsdaten aus Europa', Monatsschrift für Kriminologie und Strafrechtsreform.

    This study draws upon data from the European Social Survey to examine Messner und Rosenfeld's Institutional Anomie Theory. Institutional Anomie Theory tries to explain cross-national differences in crime rates by the interaction of society's cultural and institutional forces. The relevant state of research is unsatisfactory and full of gaps. Deficiencies exist especially with regard to the postulated cultural dynamics.

    The first explicitly European test of the theory is presented by this study. Findings from a series of multilevel models that include individual characteristics of the respondents and cultural and structural characteristics of the countries shed doubt on the theory's suitability to explain crossnational variations in victimisation risk across Europe.

    Neither the cultural imperatives of the American Dream nor the extent of anomic orientations are connected in the expected manner with the crime rate.
  • Jackson, J., Tyler, T. R., Bradford, B., Taylor, D. and Shiner, M. (forthcoming 2010). 'Legitimacy and Procedural Justice in Prisons', Prison Service Journal.

    A functioning correctional system depends on the orderly reproduction of a stable and acceptable prison environment. Our argument in this paper has two parts.

    First, a key factor in the social order of a prison is the legitimacy of the prison regime in the eyes of inmates. Second, the legitimacy of authorities depends in large part upon the procedural fairness with which officers treat prisoners.

    Following a discussion of the relevance of procedural justice to the production and sustenance of legitimacy in British prisons, we explore how the perspective can inform policy developments that aim to improve the experience, and integration, of black and minority ethnic prisoners.
  • Jackson, J., Gerber, M. and Cote-Lussier, C. (in press). 'The Ideological Roots of Fear of Crime and Punitive Sentiment in Greece and the UK: A Commentary on Zarafonitou', in Cheliotis, L. K. and Xenakis, S. (eds.), Crime and Punishment in Contemporary Greece: International Comparative Perspectives. Oxford: Peter Lang A G.
  • Gray, E., Jackson, J. and Farrall, S. (in press). 'In Search of the Fear of Crime: Using Interdisciplinary Insights to Improve the Conceptualisation and Measurement of Everyday Insecurities', in Gadd, D., Karstedt, S. and Messner, S. (eds.), Sage Handbook of Criminological Research Methods. London: Sage Publications.

    This chapter provides a critical overview of research on public insecurities about crime. Spanning several decades and continents, this body of work tends to focus on negative emotional responses (fear, worry or anxiety) to the threat of common crime categories (burglary, theft, assault).

    First, the chapter charts the emergence of the fear of crime from the policy-relevant victimisations surveys of the 1960s in America, to its transformation into a staple feature of government statistics and object of academic significance. Despite the topic's high status however, it has remained a slippery research subject - with real methodological complexities at its core.

    We outline some important breakthroughs from feminist and ‗left realist' scholars, and highlight advances using experience-based questions and the ‗expressive' dimensions of public insecurities about crime. Recognising the value of interdisciplinary research, we review what criminologists studying the fear of crime might learn from the ‗psychology of survey response', studies in ‗everyday emotions', and the better use of quantitative techniques and longitudinal data to capture the multi-dimensional and dynamic nature of fear.
  • Hummelsheim, D., Hirtenlehner, H., Jackson, J. and Oberwittler, D. (2010). 'Social Insecurities and Fear of Crime: A Cross-National Study on the Impact of Welfare State Policies on Crime-Related Anxieties', European Sociological Review, doi: 10.1093/esr/jcq01.

    This article assesses the association between national welfare state regimes and public insecurities about crime across Europe. A multilevel analysis of respondents in 23 countries sampled in the 2004/05 European Social Survey finds a strong relationship between insecurities about crime and national levels of social expenditure and decommodification of social welfare policy.

    Some social protection measures are more strongly associated with national levels of fear of crime than others, especially public non-monetary support for children and families that strengthens the individual's capacity to cope with problems on their own. We conclude with the idea that state-level social protections may buffer the development of widespread fear of crime by increasing self-efficacy and thereby mitigating various social and economic fears.
  • Jackson, J. and Bradford, B. (2010). 'What is Trust and Confidence in the Police?', Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 4, 3, 241-248.

    One of the first actions of the new Home Secretary was to scrap public confidence as the single performance indicator of policing in England and Wales. But public trust and confidence will remain important to policing policy and practice. Trust and confidence can (a) encourage active citizen participation in priority setting and the running of local services, (b) make public bodies more locally accountable and responsive, and (c) secure public cooperation with the police and compliance with the law. Analysing survey data from London we find that overall 'public confidence' condenses a range of complex and inter-related judgements concerning the trustworthiness of the police.

    We argue that confidence summarises a motive-based trust that is rooted in a social alignment between the police and the community. This social alignment is founded upon public assessments of the ability of the police to be a 'civic guardian' who secures public respect and embodies community values (Loader & Mulcahy, 2003).

    By demonstrating their trustworthiness to the public, the police can strengthen their social connection with citizens, and thus encourage more active civic engagement in domains of security and policing.
  • Hough, M., Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Myhill, A. and Quinton, P. (2010). 'Procedural Justice, Trust and Institutional Legitimacy', Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 4, 3, 203-210.

    This paper summarizes 'procedural justice' approaches to policing, contrasting these to the more politically dominant discourse about policing as crime control. It argues that public trust in policing is needed partly because this may result in public cooperation with justice, but more importantly because public trust in justice builds institutional legitimacy and thus public compliance with the law and commitment to the rule of law. Some recent survey findings are presented in support of this perspective.
  • Gerber, M., Hirtenlehner, H. and Jackson, J. (2010). 'Insecurities about Crime in Germany, Austria and Switzerland: A Review of Research Findings', European Journal of Criminology, 7, 2, 141-157.

    This paper reviews the research literature on insecurities about crime in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Making criminological studies written in German accessible to the wider European community, we first document how insecurities about crime have been conceptualised and measured in these three countries, and then review the various theoretical positions that have been empirically assessed.

    We consider the distinctiveness of the German-speaking research on insecurities about crime. We highlight commonalities and differences in the German- and English-language literatures on the topic in a way that makes the review relevant to criminologists from all European countries. Our goal is to help stimulate a truly comparative research agenda on insecurities about crime across the European continent.
  • Jackson, J. and Gray, E. (2010). 'Functional Fear and Public Insecurities about Crime', British Journal of Criminology, 50, 1, 1-21.

    Fear of crime is widely seen as an unqualified social ill, yet might some level of emotional response comprise a natural defence against crime? This paper differentiates between a dysfunctional worry that erodes quality of life and a functional worry that motivates vigilance and routine precaution.

    A London-based survey shows that one-quarter of those individuals who said they were worried about crime also viewed their worry as something akin to a problem-solving activity: they took precautions; these precautions that made them feel safer; and neither the precautions nor the worries reduced the quality of their lives. Fear of crime can be helpful as well as harmful: some people are both able and willing to convert their concerns into constructive action.
  • Jackson, J. and Bradford, B. (2009). 'Crime, Policing and Social Order: On the Expressive Nature of Public Confidence in Policing', British Journal of Sociology, 60, 3, 493-521.

    Public confidence in policing is receiving increasing attention from UK social scientists and policy-makers. The criminal justice system relies on legitimacy and consent to an extent unlike other public services: public support is vital if the police and other criminal justice agencies are to function both effectively and in accordance with democratic norms. Yet we know little about the forms of social perception that stand prior to public confidence and police legitimacy.

    Drawing on data from the 2003/2004 British Crime Survey and the 2006/2007 London Metropolitan Police Safer Neighbourhoods Survey, this paper suggests that people think about their local police in ways less to do with the risk of victimization (instrumental concerns about personal safety) and more to do with judgments of social cohesion and moral consensus (expressive concerns about neighbourhood stability, cohesion and loss of collective authority).

    Across England and Wales the police may not primarily be seen as providers of a narrow sense of personal security, held responsible for crime and safety. Instead the police may stand as symbolic 'moral guardians' of social stability and order, held responsible for community values and informal social controls. We also present evidence that public confidence in the London Metropolitan Police Service expresses broader social anxieties about long-term social change.

    We finish our paper with some thoughts on a sociological analysis of the cultural place of policing: confidence (and perhaps ultimately the legitimacy of the police) might just be wrapped up in broader public concerns about social order and moral consensus.
  • Jackson, J. and Stafford, M. (2009). 'Public Health and Fear of Crime: A Prospective Cohort Study', British Journal of Criminology, 49, 6, 832-847.

    Public insecurities about crime are widely assumed to erode individual well-being and community cohesion. Yet robust evidence on the link between worry about crime and health is surprisingly scarce.

    This paper draws on data from a prospective cohort study (the Whitehall II study) to show a strong statistical effect of mental health and physical functioning on worry about crime. Combining with existing evidence, we suggest a feedback model where worry about crime harms health, which in turn heightens worry about crime. We conclude with the idea that while fear of crime may express a whole set of social and political anxieties, there is a core to worry about crime that is implicated in real cycles of decreased health and perceived vulnerability to victimization.

    The challenge for future study is to integrate core aspects of the everyday experience of fear of crime into the more layered and expressive features of this complex social phenomenon.
  • Jackson, J. (2009). 'A Psychological Perspective on Vulnerability in the Fear of Crime', Psychology, Crime and Law, 15, 4, 365-390.

    This paper examines vulnerability and risk perception in the fear of crime. Past studies have often treated gender and age as proxies for vulnerability, and on the few occasions that vulnerability has been operationalised, there has been little agreement on the mechanisms that underpin perceived susceptibility. To develop a more theoretically-driven approach, the current study examines whether markers of vulnerability are associated with higher levels of fear through mediating assessments of likelihood, control and consequence.

    Females are found to worry more frequently than males partly because (a) they feel less able to physically defend themselves, (b) they have lower perceived self-efficacy, (c) they have higher perceived negative impact, and (d) they see the likelihood of victimisation as higher for themselves and for their social group. Younger people are also found to worry more frequently than older people, but differential vulnerability does not explain this association.

    Finally structural equation modelling shows that the effects on worry of physical defence capabilities, self-efficacy and perceived consequence are mostly mediated through judgements of absolute and relative risk. Conclusions focus on the implications of this finding for debates about the rationality of the fear of crime.
  • Bradford, B., Stanko, E. and Jackson, J. (2009). 'Using Research to Inform Policy: The Role of Public Attitude Surveys in Understanding Public Confidence and Police Contact', Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 3, 2, 139-148.

    This article summarises evidence on contact and confidence from the British Crime Survey and surveys conducted  by the Metropolitan Police Service. First, falls in public confidence over the last 20 years have been mirrored by growing dissatisfaction with personal contact. Second, while poorly handled encounters with the police can have a significant negative impact on subsequent confidence, there is some recent evidence that well-handled contacts can have a small but positive impact. More promisingly, high visibility and feeling informed about police activities are both associated with greater confidence in policing.

    Finally, we discuss how the Metropolitan Police Service is using survey data to improve police handling of interactions with the public. Communication between officers and the public - of information, of fairness and respect, and of police presence - appears to be of central importance.
  • Bradford, B., Jackson, J. and Stanko, E. (2009). 'Contact and Confidence: Revisiting the Impact of Public Encounters with the Police', Policing and Society, 19, 1, 20-46.

    Public confidence in policing has become an important issue in the UK. The police rely on legitimacy and public support, and initiatives to improve levels of confidence are currently underway. The point of contact between citizens and officers is vital in any such endeavour. But how are encounters judged and how important for public confidence are assessments of the quality of contacts?

    We draw upon data from the 2005/2006 Metropolitan Police Public Attitudes Survey to answer these questions. We test Skogan's (2006) finding that personal contact has a largely negative impact on confidence; we demonstrate that unsatisfactory contacts are indeed associated with less favourable opinions about police effectiveness, fairness and engagement with the community. Yet consistent with the procedural justice model we also show that positively received contacts can improve perceptions of fairness and community engagement.

    Moreover, seeing regular police patrols and feeling informed about police activities are associated with higher opinions of effectiveness and community engagement. We conclude with some more positive thoughts on the ability of the police to improve the quality of contacts and, perhaps, public confidence.
  • Jackson, J., Bradford, B., Hohl, K. and Farrall, S. (2009). 'Does the Fear of Crime Erode Public Confidence in Policing?', Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 3, 1, 100-111.

    This paper examines the relationship between public confidence in policing and public perceptions of crime, disorder and social cohesion. Combining data from ten sweeps of the British Crime Survey, our analysis shows that public confidence is based less on instrumental concerns about crime and more on expressive concerns about neighbourhood stability and breakdown. Therefore, confidence is driven not by fear of crime but by lay concerns about disorder, cohesion and informal social control.

    Members of the public look to the police as old-fashioned representatives of community values and norms - as symbols of moral authority who address everyday problems and strengthen social order. To increase public confidence and decrease the fear of crime, the police need to re-engage as an active part of the community and represent and defend community values, norms and morals.

    However we conclude by questioning whether a pervasive (Loader 2006) police response to problems of low level social disorder is either fully achievable or fully desirable. The causes of public anxiety about disorder may themselves run deeper than a policing response can (or should) reach.
  • Jackson, J. (2008). 'Bridging the Social and the Psychological in the Fear of Crime', in Lee, M. and Farrall, S. (eds.), Fear of Crime: Critical Voices in an Age of Anxiety, Routledge-Cavendish, pp. 143-167.
  • Gray, E., Jackson, J. and Farrall, S. (2008). 'Reassessing the Fear of Crime', European Journal of Criminology, 5, 3, 363-380.

    A large body of empirical research exploring emotional responses to crime in Europe, North America and elsewhere suggests that substantial proportions of the public worry about victimisation.

    The British Crime Survey (BCS) has asked questions exploring worry about crime of English and Welsh respondents since 1982, and in the 2003/2004 sweep of the BCS new questions were inserted into a subsection to explore the frequency and intensity of such fearful events. As well as illustrating the rationale of the new measurement strategy, this research note reports the results of the new questions in direct relation to the 'old' methods.

    The findings show that few people experience specific events of worry on a frequent basis, and that 'old' style questions magnify the everyday experience of fear. We propose that 'worry about crime' is often best seen as a diffuse anxiety about risk, rather than any pattern of everyday concerns over personal safety.
  • Jackson, J. and Sunshine, J. (2007). 'Public Confidence in Policing: A Neo-Durkheimian Perspective', British Journal of Criminology, 47, 2, 214-233.

    Public confidence in policing has received much attention in recent years, but few studies outside of the US have examined the sociological and social-psychological processes that underpin trust and support. This study, conducted in a rural English location, finds that trust and confidence in the police is shaped not by sentiments about risk and crime, but by evaluations of the values and morals that underpin community life.

    Furthermore, to garner public confidence the police must be seen first to typify group morals and values and second to treat the public with dignity and fairness. All these findings are consistent with the perspective that people are Durkheimian in their attitudes towards crime, policing and punishment - a perspective developed here in this paper.
  • Jackson, J. (2006). 'Introducing Fear of Crime to Risk Research', Risk Analysis, 26, 1, 253-264.

    This paper introduces the fear of crime to risk research, noting a number of areas for future interdisciplinary study.

    First, the paper analyses the career of the concept of fear of crime and the politics of fear.

    Second, it considers research and theory on the psychology of risk, and particularly a risk as image perspective and interplay between emotion and cognition.

    Third, it speculates how people learn about risk and suggests how to customise a Social Amplification of Risk Framework to fear of crime.

    Finally, the paper argues that fear of crime may be an individual response to community social order and a generalised attitude toward the moral trajectory of society. Each of these areas of discussion has implications for future theoretical developments within risk research; each highlights how risk research can contribute to the social scientific understanding of an important issue of the day.
  • Jackson, J. (2005). 'Validating New Measures of the Fear of Crime', International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8, 4, 297-315.

    This study assesses the scaling properties of some new measures of the fear of crime. The new conceptualization-a range of distinct but related constructs that constitute the fear of crime-comprises the interplay between emotion, risk perception and environmental perception. Data from a small-scale survey are analysed using confirmatory factor analysis showing good scaling properties of the multiple indicators.

    Two implications of the new conceptualization for the rationality of the fear of crime are discussed.

    First, perceptions of the risk of crime seem to be a product of how individuals make sense of their social and physical environment.

    Second, the fear of crime may constitute such evaluations of community cohesion and moral consensus as well as specific experiences of 'fear' of 'crime'-a way of seeing as well as a way of feeling. The conclusions consider ramifications for the rationality of the fear of crime, particularly in the context of reassurance policing in England and Wales. 
  • Jackson, J. (2004). 'Experience and Expression: Social and Cultural Significance in the Fear of Crime', British Journal of Criminology, 44, 6, 946-966.

    This paper argues that to ignore the social meaning that constitutes public perceptions of crime is to offer a shallow picture of the fear of crime - and survey research need not do either.

    Examining the symbolic links between community cohesion, disorder and crime, this study suggests that perceptions of risk are explicably situated in individuals' understandings of the social and physical make-up of their neighbourhood, as well as vulnerability and broader social attitudes and values. Furthermore, an explanation is offered for recent research that suggests the prevalence of fear of crime has been exaggerated.

    Namely, survey responses may articulate both 'experienced' fear-summations of the frequency of emotion-and 'expressive' fear, or attitudes regarding the cultural meaning of crime, social change and relations, and conditions conducive to crime. 
  • Jackson, J., Allum, N. and Gaskell, G. (2004). 'Perceptions of Risk in Cyber Space', peer-reviewed Science Review commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry (Foresight Directorate). Available at foresight.gov.uk

    Reprinted in 'Perceptions of Risk in Cyber Space', in Trust and Crime in Information Societies, edited by R. Mansell and B. Collins. London: Edward Elgar, pp. 245-281.