It is unfortunate that the debate about crime is taking place on the basis of ordinal data within categories with no account taken of the nature of the crime. For example, in the overall crime statistics, one murder has the same value as one case of shoplifting. The seriousness scale adopted for the BCS (see above) is a step in the right direction, but it is too simplistic. When assessing the seriousness of a crime will the criteria to determine seriousness be objective (e.g. this kind of crime merits this score) or will it be subjective (e.g. this albeit minor crime had a serious negative impact on the quality of my life), in which case seriousness will simply become a matter of opinion. Although an offence may appear trivial, for example verbal abuse, does it become serious if there are aggravating factors such as racism?
There is a growing academic interest in Quality of Life indicators covering life in general, social, environment, health and crime (Sirgy, 1998). It should be possible, on the basis of analysis of the available data, to develop a similar methodology that would give an indication of the level of risk that applies to a particular neighbourhood. Not surprisingly the BCS shows high levels of correlation between crime and other indices of urban deprivation. Similarly, profiles could be provided from the BCS data of the surveyed as against the perceived level of risk based upon victim profiles. According to the BCS, levels of worry are higher among those living in high crime areas, recent victims, those who consider it likely they will become victimised, and those who are socially or economically vulnerable. The survey found that 6% of respondents said that fear of crime greatly affects their quality of life. About 20% were 'very worried' about burglary, car crime, mugging, physical attack by a stranger, and rape. This kind of analysis would allow for a sensible dialogue about the perceived risk of victimisation as compared with the surveyed level of risk.
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