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    The discovery of fear of crime in the UK

    Hough, Mike (2017) The discovery of fear of crime in the UK. In: Lee, M. and Mythen, G. (eds.) The Routledge International Handbook on Fear of Crime. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. ISBN 9781138120334.

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    This chapter explores the way in which the fear of crime emerged as a policy issue and as a criminological topic in the United Kingdom in the early 1980s. The British Crime Survey (BCS, now CSEW) was the first large-scale survey to attempt to measure fear of crime in the UK. It included questions asking if respondents felt safe out alone at night, and whether they worried about becoming the victim of various crimes. The first BCS report suggested that fear of crime was inflated by media accounts of crime and argued that those who were least at risk tended to worry most – in short it implied a “risk/fear paradox”. BSC findings on fear were well received upon publication, but subject to criticism in the mid 1980s by ‘Left Realist’ criminologists who conducted various local crime surveys with an agenda of encouraging politicians of the centre/left to take crime problems seriously. A more balanced and nuanced BCS analysis of fear of crime emerged in the 1990s. The mid-1990s saw the start of a prolonged fall in conventional crimes against people and their property. Initially this resulted in a new variant of the “risk/fear” paradox, in that people continued to think that crime was rising despite the downward trends. However, after over 20 years of falling crime, people have started to recognise that this fall is a reality, and as a result, levels of fear as measured by the CSEW have also fallen, and fear of crime has largely fallen off the UK political agenda. Public concern remains about cyber-crime (which is increasing), about terrorism and about specific forms of violence such as knife crimes committed by young men.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Depositing User: Mike Hough
    Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2017 10:31
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:32

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