LETTER: Future fears

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The Independent Online
IAN JACK'S fin de sicle view ("How to survive the 21st century", Review, 9 April) is unduly pessimistic in two respects.

First, the statistics concerning crime, featured under the heading "Trends", give a misleading impression of change for the worse. Ninety-five per cent of Britons may think that it is unsafe to walk the streets at night, with 85 per cent believing it to have been safe 30 years ago. This is, however, the response generally found when middle-aged people are polled on this subject: it is because 30 years ago they were young, fit, single people unintimidated by groups of their own generation. The older you get the more likely you are to be nervous about groups of youths on the streets after dark.

It is misleading to state that "the average person's risk of becoming a victim of violent crime has trebled since 1979" when the chance itself is so remote. Even though there was a reported rise in violent crime last year, as there has been for 20 years, only about 5 per cent of crime was violent, and most of that was domestic or between drunk young men.

Gary Slapper

Law School

Staffordshire University