Crime: reality and perceptions


This diagram is in a presentation by Tony Blair about Britain. So who knows if the sources are chosen conveniently. But, providing the stats aren’t shonky in some way it makes a telling point. Similar points could be made about job security and no doubt other social phenomena which we think are getting worse and are much worse than they are.

Readers may be relieved to know that Mr Blair says that he is of the opinion that Britain “is well-placed to grasp the opportunities and meet the challenges of the coming decades”.

(I keep wanting a politician to go to the election with the slogan “Now is the time for complacency” – but I digress.)

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Francis X Holden
17 years ago

My favourite was always Ugly Crime in the City vs Worry Free We Don’t Lock our Doors Country Living.

Last time I looked figures for everything except bank robbery were higher per 10,000 in the country.

I seem to remember a strong correlation between hours of tv watched and fear of crime.

Is there a strong correlation between an economist living in Australia under JWH and not easily believing things a PM might say?

Andrew Norton
17 years ago

This is a common tendency in public opinion, as I argued here.

But 12 million crimes in a population of 60 or so million is a lot, and the public reasonably thinks it is too high.

Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters
17 years ago

I may add to Andrew’s assertion that representative people in surveys structurally report thinking they were happier 5 years ago than they are now.

17 years ago

There is strong consensus in Sydney that people should get tougher sentences for crimes. Easy to see why parties campaign on those issues, what popular politician is going to go against near 70%+ opinion?

Kevin Schnpaer
Kevin Schnpaer
17 years ago

The TV and newspapers report several crime stories per day. If crime numbers drop they report several crime stories per day. If the crime numbers rise they report several crime stories per day, plus a story on how crime is rising. If there is a long downward trend in crime, that is noted, resulting in a dip in crime perception. But afterwards the newspapers and TV report several crime stories per day, day after day, as per their format, and whatever positive change in perception there was is dispensed with and eventually crime perception returns to its previous baseline. Once the newsmedia finds the level of eager consumption for any story-type, its news-space alottment becomes fixed. Thus do perceptions meet appetites.

All information consumers beware: Seek and ye shall find.

17 years ago

Of course “Victim-Reported Crime” doesn’t take into account the fact that as law enforcement effectiveness continues to decline, people become less interested in reporting crimes. Why bother?

I could have reported over 100 assaults to myself or my friends over the last 10 years but I haven’t bothered to. The cops aren’t interested unless someone ends up in hospital.

People only report stolen cars because their insurance requires them to. I had my car stolen a year ago and reported it the police:

Is the car insured?
What is the value of the car?
Around $1000.
Great, thanks for the report.
Do I need to come in and sign anything?
You can if you want, but I wouldn’t worry about it if I was you.

That was the last I ever heard of it.

People in general don’t bother to report something if the general perception is that nothing will be done about it. This applies to a much larger category of crimes than it used to.

17 years ago

OH MY GOD!!! I just found out that dangerous statistics are on the rise too!
What do I do?! I think I’ll rob 137 banks in the next 3 days…