Crime is down. Again. Violent crime is down, too. But what about public perceptions of crime?
According to the survey [PDF], 65% of people think crime has increased nationwide over the last two years, but only 39% of people think crime is up in their local area.
The difference is even more striking when you distinguish between those who think crime has gone up a little and those who think it’s up a lot. The figures for crime going up a little are pretty close: 26% think this is true locally, 31% nationally. But just 13% of people think local crime is up a lot, while 35% think crime is nationally up a lot. In areas that they don’t have first-hand knowledge of, people are far likelier to think things are going to hell in a handcart.
The conclusion from this is that people’s perceptions of crime nationally – which are influenced far more by the media than by personal experience as compared with perceptions of local crime – are absurdly overinflated. Society isn’t ‘broken’, but the media are. Politicians who feed the frenzy and then base their policies on the resultant ill-informed public fears are doing us a disservice.