Title: “Measuring and explaining the everyday significance of fear of crime”.
Abstract: This paper presents a new way of measuring public insecurities about crime. Specifically,
we test two recently developed measures from the field; the first approach distinguishes everyday
worry about crime from a more diffuse anxiety about crime. Worry (defined by psychologists as
concrete mental events of concern about a specific issue) is assessed using a ‘frequency’ measure
designed by Farrall and colleges. These questions tap into those instances of worry that individuals
can recall and locate in time and space, providing an n of worries within a given time period.
Meanwhile anxiety about crime is measured by combining the frequency question above with a
more general question on how worried the respondent is overall about becoming a victim of crime.
If people say they are worried to the global question, but cannot recall a single instance of worry
over the past year through the frequency question, they are classified as ‘anxious’ – as having an
emotional experience that is diffuse and intangible. The second line of enquiry is to explore the
‘functional’ and ‘dysfunctional’ aspects of managing concerns about crime. This approach is able to
distinguish worry about crime which is both helpful and adaptive (even functional) from harmful
experiences of worry which erode quality of life and well-being. Since the correlates and
consequences of fear of crime change as membership moves from one category of public
insecurities about crime to the next, we show a series of clear and unequivocal empirical
implications to this new categorisation.
Emily Gray, Department of Criminology, University of Keele, Stoke-on-Trent, ST5 5GB, United
Dr Jonathan Jackson, Methodology Institute, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE,
United Kingdom. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Stephen Farrall, School of Law, University of Sheffield, Bartolome House, Winter Street,
Sheffield S3 7ND, United Kingdom. S.Farrall@sheffield.ac.uk