Reported in the Independent today, based on research by BMG with ‘1,506 GB adults online between 6 and 9 November’, we read:
‘Almost 80 per cent of people believe police force spending cuts have made them less safe on the streets of Britain, an exclusive survey has shown. Some four-fifths of those questioned in the exclusive survey for The Independent said swingeing cuts enforced during a near-decade of austerity driven by the Conservatives have damaged public safety.’
There’s a logical basis for at least some of this level of fear in the evidence of reported crime increasing at the same time:
Add to this hard evidence, the effects of media incubation of fear in their focus on crime in both news and in drama and it makes perfect sense that people feel less safe.
I was unable to get any regional or national breakdown but an earlier Ipsos MORI poll in April 2018 did offer this:
Before looking at the breakdown, it’s interesting to note the much lower levels of ‘concern’ apparent in the above with none of the regions coming anywhere near the BMG figure of 80%. However, without a detailed comparison of the wording of the questions and the allocation of responses to categories of concern, there is little scope in suggesting that the level of fear of crime has increased so dramatically in these few months between the two surveys.
It is possible, that there has been some overall increase in this period though, given the continuing rise in reported crime levels across England & Wales and the epidemic of knife killings in London which is constantly headlined by media.
In Scotland, however, reported crime continues to fall and though media here have been determinedly milking the few cases they have, there seems little reason that the Ipsos MORI figures will have shifted much.
Our perceptions of crime levels are mostly constructed for us by the media coverage we consume, and, in Scotland, we face daily and intense coverage of any violence that can be found, along with a prolonged campaign to undermine Police Scotland and to cast doubt on its competence. That Scots seemed less anxious, at least in April, seems, to me, quite remarkable in the circumstances. The scale of the distortion, of the Police Scotland attacks and the failure to contextualise with comparative statistics, can be seen in these earlier reports:
As knife and gun crime rockets across England and Wales and falls in Scotland, Scotland has far more police officers per head of population
BBC News tries to spread knife crime crisis into Scotland to tell us: ‘You’re no different. Don’t get any ideas!’
Lib Dems, Tories and Labour take turns to help Scotsman, STV and BBC Scotland cast unjustified doubt on successes of Police Scotland, as crime plummets regardless
As crime falls, Scots feel safer than ever before
As hate crime falls in Scotland and soars elsewhere, STV and BBC Scotland report fake news of an increase
Scottish Muslim students far less likely to report abuse or crime?
Less homicide, less knife crime, less domestic violence, safer cities and now much lower alcohol problems: should Scotland’s old stereotypes be sent south?
Scotsman acts as Tory propaganda outlet in fake news about knife crime as statistics reveal dramatic fall in possession and use across Scotland
Better together? As crime falls in Scotland, English drug gangs invade Scotland. Build a wall?
Crime reporting has always been a staple of the media since Adam was a boy. Murders account for a tiny proportion of overall crimes, yet are always reported and, I think people want them to be reported. Other serious crimes tend to get reported, whereas other less serious crimes (not less serious to victims, of course) tend not to get reported as frequently, but get coverage in local newspapers.
At our Community Council, we receive monthly reports of crimes committed in our area. These average less than 1 crime per day and are seldom other than minor. Some months ago, there was a murder when a car passenger was shot while the car was stopped at lights.this resulted in two major thoroughfares being closed for a day, while forensic searches were carried out. While people were angry about such a brutal killing having taken place, none were frightened by the event, because they knew it was drugs-gang related. They were more angry about the inconvenience caused by the road closures, especially as the Health Centre and Supermarket were hard to reach by most of the populace. At the same Community Council meeting, we were informed that a student had been robbed in the street. There was no physical injury, but the young man, who was from overseas had been intimidated and handed over his wallet. This caused far more outrage than the shooting. People were outraged that a visitor to Glasgow had been badly treated. They were not worried about their own safety. So, most people can understand the nuances of crime. They can see through the lurid and dehumanising language that the media employ
Undoubtedly, as you say, people’s perceptions of crime are shaped by the media, because most of us are not victims of crime very often during our lives. Young people are statistically more likely to be the victims of crime, yet, they report a lower level of fear of crime. Is this because they use the mainstream media less? Is it because community police officers now visit schools regularly and build relationships with young people, and so, they are educated into having a more insightful perception? Young people are also out on the streets more often, especially adolescents and young adults, and so have a more real knowledge of what things on the street are really like. Most groups of young people on the streets at night can be noisy, but, in the main, they are your children, mine, our neighbours’. Sometimes, they are drinking and, possibly, smoking dope. Sometimes there is a bit of littering, graffiti and vandalism in areas where they assemble. This is annoying and irritating, but, it is seldom threatening. However, it is often reported as such.
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Yes the Penny Dreadful has never lost it’s appeal for titillation and whiling away idle moments.
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John I am not commenting on this but thought you might like to read this a big change what they were all spouting before the Independence Referendum.
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Thanks Scott. Will do.