Although there is a slowly improving trend in perceptions and feelings of safety, there is a persistent and demonstrable gap between perceived and actual risk of crime, with people over-estimating their risk of becoming a victim of crime. When the fear of crime becomes disproportionate to the reality, it can have a devastating effect on a person's sense of personal safety, lifestyle and quality of life. These effects can curtail social activities through an unwillingness to leave our own homes and can increase stress, fear and anxiety. There can also be a cost to local communities as people become less willing to engage in community activities, leading to less resilient and supportive communities.
There are a number of key drivers which can impact on peoples perception and fear of crime, including:
- Personal experience of crime
- Perceptions of personal risk and vulnerability
- Confidence in the police that they will be protected from crime and that criminals will be dealt with
- Confidence that they will be treated with respect if they are a victim or if they witness a crime
- Disorderly surroundings such as litter, abandoned buildings/cars, graffiti and broken/barricaded windows
- Disruptive behaviour such as rowdy youths, drunken behaviour and inconsiderate neighbours
- Knowledge of local trends and events
- Media sensationalism when reporting crimes
Our aim is to work with all our partners to improve public perceptions of crime and increase confidence in the justice system. As part of the Justice Change Portfolio a programme has started called 'Reassuring the Public'. While work on public reassurance about crime and confidence building is already being done across Scotland we believe that a co-ordinated programme approach will deliver additional benefits such as:
- Focusing on the needs of people in contact with the justice system to create a positive experience, better engagement and more informed choices
- Enabling greater awareness of activities and projects across Scotland which address reassurance and confidence
- Creating a more co-ordinated approach to identifying good practice at local level and facilitating its use more widely across other parts of the justice system
- Investigating which specific groups are most in need of reassurance and confidence building and the benefits they could receive
- Building a more consistent framework for measuring benefits and tracking progress
Key benefits that this programme can target are:
- decreased fear of crime
- increased feelings of safety
- increased neighbourhood satisfaction levels
- higher levels of confidence in the justice system
- greater public engagement with the justice system with improvements in the reporting of crimes, witness attendance at court, and such like
The public remain positive about the general crime rate in their local area. The public perception of the local crime rate as having stayed the same or improved in the past two years was 75% in 2014/15, compared to 76% in 2012/13 and 65% in 2006, the baseline year for this indicator.
The data is available at the bottom of the page.
There were some differences between the perception of local crime rate:
Males (77%) were more likely to agree that the local crime rate has reduced or stayed the same in the last two years compared to females (72%).
Those who were a victim of crime were more likely than non-victims to think that there was a little or a lot more crime in their area than there was two years earlier (32% compared to 18% for non-victims).
- There was more consistency in the results from respondents from the 15% most deprived areas and those from the rest of Scotland.
The data is available at the bottom of the page.
This evaluation is based on: any difference within +/- 1 percentage points of previous survey suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change. An increase of 1 percentage points or more suggests the position is improving; whereas a decrease of 1 percentage points or more suggests the position is worsening.
Although the change of 1.1 percentage points between 2014/15 (74.65%) 2012/13 (75.77%) is not a statistically significant change, it is marginally greater than the published Scotland Performs ‘Criteria for recent change’ threshold (+/- 1 percentage point).
However, SCJS sample sizes have fallen over recent years, and we therefore report this result in the 2014/15 SCJS publication as unchanged since it is not a statistically significant change. The ‘threshold for recent change’ will be reviewed after April 2016, when the SCJS sample size falls further (to around 6,000 per annum).
For information on general methodological approach, please click here.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
Scottish Police Forces
Scottish Prison Service
Victim Support Scotland
Safer and Stronger
Wealthier and Fairer