Ahern Publishes Report on Fear of Crime in Ireland and its Impact on Quality of Life - 63.5% do not worry about becoming a victim of crime

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., as part of the process of developing a White Paper on Crime, today published a report entitled "Fear of Crime in Ireland and its Impact on Quality of Life", which was originally commissioned by the former National Crime Council.

This research makes an important contribution to understanding the impact of crime in Ireland.  It will inform a number of developments in the criminal justice area, in particular, the White Paper on Crime process which the Minister announced earlier this year.

Minister Ahern said: "Quite apart from the direct impact of crime itself, fear of crime can adversely affect the quality of people’s lives. An overall strategy to deal with crime also needs to deal with the fear it can engender."

"The report points to where we need to target our efforts in terms of those groups more likely to fear becoming a victim of crime.  These proposals will be studied further in the context of the White Paper on Crime. "

The report is available on the Department’s website www.justice.ie 

24 April 2009

Note for Editors

The Report, which was the final project commissioned by the National Crime Council, was undertaken along with the cooperation of An Garda Síochána.  At the request of the National Crime Council, a number of additional questions were added to the Garda Public Attitudes Survey beginning in 2006. The Garda Public Attitudes Surveys are conducted with a sample size of 10,000.

The research indicates that, while fear of crime can significantly reduce the quality of life of some individuals, the majority of individuals either do not worry about becoming a victim of crime (63.5%) or that fear of crime has a minimal (if any) effect on their quality of life (21.5%). 

The research findings suggest that factors which may influence the level of fear individuals experience and the impact of this fear on their quality of life are:

• prior history of victimisation: Repeat victims of crime (including both personal and household victimisation) are especially at risk of experiencing a reduced quality of life due to fear of crime.

• feelings of personal vulnerability: Vulnerable individuals (such as some older adults, females, widowed individuals, lower socio-economic status groups and retired individuals) are more likely to fear crime and for this fear to affect their quality of life.

• normalisation of crime: Individuals exposed to a certain amount of crime or a certain type of criminal activity may begin to perceive crime as a normal occurrence. Consequently, it is possible that living in an area with a high crime rate for burglary could potentially lead to a normalisation of crime, so long as the individual has not experienced personal and/or household victimisation or does not believe that the level of criminal activity in their locality has increased.

The report points to areas where measures can be targeted so as to deal with fear of crime.  These include measures to reduce repeat victimisation, improve services for victims of crime, provide support for vulnerable and/or disadvantaged groups and address local perceptions of crime and policing.

The report also points to the valuable role the media can play in encouraging people to engage in crime prevention measures without necessarily inflating fear of crime and affecting quality of life.