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Reassessing the fear of crime

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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 victimization. The British Crime Survey (BCS) has asked questions exploring English and Welsh respondents' worry about crime since 1982, and in the 2003—4 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.

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