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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Fear and Risk

Just before Christmas I posted two blogs that referred to the Reassurance Gap (RG). They can be found here and here.

The RG is the difference between police recorded crime figures which were going down and what people perceived to be the case, which was crime was a bad as ever, in fact it may even be going up.

The Reassurance Policing Programme (RPP), started in earnest in 2004 was set up to address this problem. Since then the emphasis in government and policing policy, and academic literature has been on reducing the fear of crime. It seems to be accepted now without any real thought or discussion that the fear of crime is a bad thing that we should be getting rid of it.

Taking a step back though we can see that in every other sphere of life fear has a positive aspect. It is what keeps us out of dangerous situations, it what helps us make sensible decisions, its what keeps us alive.

One of the interesting aspects of the fear of crime is that it seems that the people that are apparently most at risk, young males (see my street robbery analysis posts) are the least fearful and those least at risk, the elderly, are most the fearful.

Risk has two aspects though, probability and consequence. This is where lifestyle and vulnerability come in. Young males to a large extent are victims because of their risky lifestyle which is a result of a feeling of a lack of vulnerability. Most take being a victim of crime in their stride as long it is not too serious. Elderly people on the other hand tend to cultivate a risk averse lifestyle due to their feeling of vulnerability because the consequences of being a victim of crime, even relatively minor, tends to be far more serious.

That is the reason why so called distraction burglaries (or burglary artifice to use the policing term) is such a nasty, despicable and serious crime. Its criminals target elderly people in their homes and rely on faulty memory and sight, and engendering a feeling of guilt in their victims that they have been stupid, to get away with it.

Crimestoppers have quite rightly made this type of crime a priority and published a list of the 10 most wanted. Have a look here you may be able to help.

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