Fear of crime is on the rise but rates of violent crime are falling. Why the seemingly irrational divide?
While there was a 9% fall in crime last year, a poll for the Royal Statistical Society and Kings College London showed that 58% of people do not believe crime has fallen. Although overall crime figures are down across the nation, here at Netwatch our half yearly commercial crime report showed an increase in attempted crimes across our markets.
Since 1995, crime has fallen every year in the UK and the latest figures are at their lowest since the survey began in 1981. Yet, during this period, perception of crime has remained high. 10 years ago, the Home Office announced that almost three-quarters of the population believed crime was still rising even though it had fallen steadily over the preceding years. This has remained true to this day.
It is wrong to dismiss the beliefs of the public who feel crime is rising as simply unfounded or delusional. Although statistics show that people who believe crime is rising do so falsely, the effect of people’s perceptions and beliefs of the environment around them- false or not- can be real. A contributing factor to the growing concerns of the public could simply be that every year there is thousands of unreported crimes across the UK, further influencing their belief that the crime rate has not fallen.
Someone who feels like their environment is becoming more dangerous to live in, may take efficient measures to make themselves feel safer, but they could easily become introverted and these measures could have a detrimental impact on their lives.
National statistics also do not reflect local experience. Obviously, reduction in crime is not the same as eradication and successes achieved in the national crime rate will not be true for everywhere. The section of the survey dedicated to young people also showed that 10-15 year olds are more likely to fall victim to violent crimes than adults.
Another important factor is establishing a good relationship between those working to reduce crime and the local people. National Policing Improvement Agency research has shown that sharing information with the public with regards to crime and policing improves their perception of it. Here at Netwatch we see many attempted crimes and thefts every day. We have seen first-hand the effect crimes can have on its victims and how implementing security measures can hugely impact on their feeling and sense of security. Many customers of Netwatch have remarked that one of the best things the system gives them is “peace of mind” and that they are safe in the knowledge that their homes and businesses are protected.
However, the fact still remains that statistics are no match for the media stories we hear and personal experiences we have that tell us that crime is just as much, if not more, of a problem as it ever was.