Street crime tops list of life's worst nightmares


Home Affairs Correspondent

People are more worried about burglary and rape than they are about unemployment, ill-health and road accidents.

Fear of crime still tops the list of "life worries" - despite the fact that most of us are more likely to fall prone to other misfortunes - according to the latest Home Office research.

The study is a serious blow to the Government, coming after 16 years of Conservative policy and as the party fights a rearguard action to maintain its law and order credentials. Further, it supports Labour's claims that crime, and the fear of crime, are heightened in poor neighbourhoods frequented by drunks, tramps and drug addicts, vandals and graffiti artists.

It suggests that putting bobbies on the beat might be an effective way of restoring pedestrian use of the streets - or as Jack Straw, Labour's home affairs spokesman, had suggested, "reclaiming the streets".

Yesterday, researchers themselves expressed surprise that given the low level of risk, as many as 12 per cent of people said they were worried about terrorist attacks. By comparison only 11 per cent worried about household accidents - yet 2.5 million people a year will end up in hospital as a result of mishaps in the home.

But Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said: "The fear of crime is understandable in the light of the growth in violent crime during the last decade, although it remains the case that the chances of being the victim of violence are slight."

The study was based on the findings of the latest British Crime Survey, which examines the experience of more than 15,000 households and is regarded as the most accurate indicator of crime rates and trends in England and Wales.

It showed that for many women, domestic violence poses a grave threat. Nearly 1 in 30 women said they were worried about being attacked by someone in their own family. Among women under 30, the figure rose to 1 in 10 and in inner cities was as high as 1 in 5.

The impact of domestic violence, harassment, sexual insults, and behaviour that many women have experienced "fairly routinely" at the hands of men, has contributed to their fear of crime, more than from the chance of a life-threatening attack, the report concludes. More than a quarter of all women under 30 had received abusive comment in the streets, one in five had been followed.

The study showed that between 1 and 2 per cent of people did not go out of their houses after dark, for fear of attack. Older women, up to 11 per cent in inner cities, are most likely to stay at home. For many others, fear of crime meant they avoided events or activities, like cinemas, theatres and evening classes.

Yesterday, David Maclean, a Home Office minister, said the best way of curbing fear of crime was to tackle crime itself. Citing the recent drop in recorded crime, he said recent government initiatives to tackle crime, such as the introduction of closed-circuit television and police operations targeting specific crimes, like burglary and mugging, had improved people's confidence.

tAnxiety about Crime, findings from the British Crime Survey, Home Office Research and Planning Unit, Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Scientists believe Mercury is coated in billions of years’ worth of carbon dust, after being ‘dumped on’ by passing comets
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£30,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a perso...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Payable Clerk

£21,000 - £24,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a new opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Regional Sales Manager - East Region - OTE £45,000

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Manager

£55,000 - £65,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a qualified accountant with ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor