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Author: Department of Justice
Published on 29 February 2012 02:00 PM

The Department of Justice (DOJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 1/2012 ‘Perceptions of Crime: Findings from the 2010/11 Northern Ireland Crime Survey’ (NICS). It is a National Statistics Publication.

In addition to describing respondents’ perceptions of causes of crime, recent crime levels and the extent of problems of anti-social behaviour in the local area, this bulletin illustrates three commonly used measures of concern about crime:

  • worry about crime and personal safety;
  • perceptions of the likelihood of victimisation; and
  • perceptions of the effect of ‘fear of crime’ on quality of life.

Key Findings

  • Drugs (71%), alcohol (66%) and a lack of discipline from parents (62%) were the three factors most commonly identified by NICS 2010/11 respondents as major causes of crime in Northern Ireland today. When asked which single factor they considered to be the main cause of crime, 24% of respondents cited ‘lack of discipline from parents’ while a further 23% cited ‘drugs’.
  • Around three-fifths (62%) of NICS 2010/11 respondents felt that crime levels in Northern Ireland had increased in the preceding two years, similar to the 2009/10 figure (64%) but lower than in 2003/04 (79%). These results illustrate the tendency of most people to believe the level of crime is increasing, even when it is not. The decrease since 2003/04 may reflect to some extent the recent falls in crime evidenced by both the NICS and police recorded crime statistics.
  • As in previous sweeps of the survey, NICS 2010/11 respondents continued to be more positive in their perceptions of crime levels in their local areas than at the regional level with around one-third (35%) believing that local crime levels had increased in the preceding two years.
  • Based on a seven-strand composite measure, findings from NICS 2010/11 show that 13% of respondents perceived the level of anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their local area to be high, a similar proportion to that recorded in England and Wales (14%; BCS 2010/11).
  • Of the socio-demographic groups examined by NICS 2010/11, the most likely to perceive ASB as a problem in their area included: residents of the 20% most deprived areas of Northern Ireland (33%); people living in social rented accommodation (31%); women aged 16-24 (26%); single parents (26%); and recent victims of crime reported to the police (26%).
  • Despite a lower prevalence of crime in Northern Ireland, respondents to NICS 2010/11 displayed higher levels of worry about crime than their counterparts in England and Wales (BCS 2010/11): violent crime (19% v 13%); burglary (16% v 10%); and car crime (13% v 10%).
  • While NICS 2010/11 respondents displayed higher levels of worry about crime than their BCS 2010/11 counterparts, they were, with the exception of burglary (15% v 13%), less likely to perceive themselves to be at risk of victimisation: violent crime (10% v 13%) and car crime (15% v 17%).
  • Findings from NICS 2010/11 reveal a disparity between people’s perceived likelihood of being a victim of crime and their actual risk, whereby the perceived risk far exceeds the actual risk. For instance, 15% of people thought they were likely to be a victim of burglary in the next 12 months, compared with an actual risk of two per cent. A similar pattern emerged in terms of car crime (15% v 3%) and violent crime (10% v 2%).
  • Two-thirds (67%) of NICS 2010/11 respondents felt that ‘fear of crime’ has a minimal impact on their quality of life, with a further 28% claiming it has a ‘moderate effect’. The remaining five per cent believed that their quality of life is greatly affected by their ‘fear of crime’.
  • Among those NICS 2010/11 respondents most likely to state that their lives are greatly affected by a ‘fear of crime’ were: residents in areas of self-perceived high ASB (15%); recent victims of crimes reported to the police (13%); and those with a limiting illness or disability (10%).

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