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Crime and fear of crime

Policy details

Metadata item Details
Publication date:1 April 2019
Contact:

claire.pini@ons.gov.uk

Introduction

The leading surveys of public attitudes to crime in the UK are the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), the Northern Ireland Safe Community Survey (SCS), and the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS).

Crime is a complex subject, particularly as legislation differs across the United Kingdom. This means that crimes may be defined differently and that it is not always possible to compare like-with-like. Therefore, harmonising crime statistics is focussed on helping users understand what can and can’t be compared and why. The ‘Survey Questions’ section below identifies the current questions used in the three national surveys related to public attitudes to crime. Users may wish to adopt these when developing a survey of attitudes to crime. These have been fully tested and are included in all three surveys, although some vary a little – this is detailed in the ‘Notes’ column. The questions can be used individually or together and allow comparison against the three national surveys.

The Harmonisation Topic Group for Crime and Fear of Crime has representatives from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA), the Scottish Government, and the Home Office. This group brings together stakeholders and producers of statistics to determine best practice. The group agreed that the below questions are recommended to maximise the comparability and coherence of statistics. We recommend that users read the technical notes for the three surveys to gain further understanding.

We are always interested in hearing from users so we can develop our work. If you use or produce crime statistics, or are interested in comparing them, get in touch: gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk.

There are several differences to keep in mind when considering whether to compare crime statistics across the UK. The surveys are often shaped by local priorities.

Many of these differences do not relate to the fear of crime and perception of crime questions, but to other themes such as victimisation. For example, the definition of ‘burglary’ in the CSEW and ‘housebreaking’ in the SCJS differ.

The guidance, methodology, and information documents linked below have more detailed information about comparability.

Question Response options Variable name Note (see below)
How safe do you feel walking alone in this area after dark? Would you say you feel… Very safe
Fairly safe
A bit unsafe
or very unsafe?
WalkDark
How safe do you feel when you are alone in your own home at night? Would you say you feel…. Very safe
Fairly safe
A bit unsafe
or very unsafe?
HomeAlon 3
How worried are you about….having your home broken into and something stolen? Very worried
Fairly worried
Not very worried
Not at all worried
(Not applicable)
WBurgl 4
(How worried are you about)……being mugged and robbed? Very worried
Fairly worried
Not very worried Not at all worried (Not applicable)
WMugged 4
(How worried are you about)……having your car stolen? Very worried
Fairly worried
Not very worried Not at all worried (Not applicable)
WCarStol 4
(How worried are you about)……having things stolen from your car? Very worried
Fairly worried
Not very worried Not at all worried (Not applicable)
WfromCar 4
(How worried are you about)……being raped? Very worried
Fairly worried
Not very worried Not at all worried (Not applicable)
WRaped 6
(How worried are you about)…..being physically attacked by strangers? Very worried
Fairly worried
Not very worried Not at all worried (Not applicable)
WAttack 7
(How worried are you about)…..being subject to a physical attack because of your skin colour, ethnic origin or religion? Very worried
Fairly worried
Not very worried Not at all worried (Not applicable)
WRaceAtt 8
How much of a problem are….noisy neighbours or loud parties? Very big problem Fairly big problem Not a very big problem
Not a problem at all
NoisNeig
(How much of a problem are…) teenagers hanging around on the streets? Very big problem Fairly big problem Not a very big problem
Not a problem at all
TeenHang
(How much of a problem is….) rubbish or litter lying around? Very big problem Fairly big problem Not a very big problem
Not a problem at all
Rubbish
(How much of a problem are….) vandalism, graffiti and other deliberate damage to property or vehicles? Very big problem Fairly big problem Not a very big problem
Not a problem at all
Vandals
(How much of a problem are…) people using or dealing drugs? Very big problem Fairly big problem Not a very big problem
Not a problem at all
DrugUse 4
(How much of a problem are….) people being drunk or rowdy in public places? Very big problem Fairly big problem Not a very big problem
Not a problem at all
Drunk

Notes:

  1. Interviewer prompts available in technical notes.
  2. For all questions, consider best practice for Likert scale responses, ie adding a ‘neutral’ option.
  3. These questions have different wording in the SCJS
  4. These questions have a different structure and wording in the SCJS
  5. The ‘how much of a problem’ questions refer to ‘your area’ which is defined as within a 15 minute walk from the respondent’s home
  6. Different wording and structure in SCJS (asks ‘sexually assaulted’ rather than ‘raped’)
  7. Different wording and structure in SCJS (‘You will be physically assaulted or attacked in the street or other public place’)
  8. This question is from the CSEW. SCJS has a harassment module with additional motivations. NISCS uses the phrase ‘hate motivations’ and provides examples

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