Geography Of Fear And Fear Of Crime

2425 words - 10 pages

Geography of fear and fear of crime in society today has been widely researched. In this essay fear of crime is used in the context of an individual’s perceived risk of becoming a victim of crime. This essay will explain Cater and Jones statement and discuss how media portrayal, environmental incivility in urban leading to loss of authority of space by local people and urban encroachment of rural areas shape the ‘geography of fear’. These factors at individual, neighbourhood and community level will be evaluated in ways so fear of crime can be reduced in urban and rural areas.

‘In its social and behavioural impact fear of crime may be as potent as victimisation itself’ (Cater and Jones, 1989: 104) relates to the geography of crime, best defined as ‘the relevance of space to the study of criminal offenders, the incidence of crime and the characteristics of victims’ (Smith, 1989). In terms of explaining Cater and Jones’ statement, it means that it is not so much peoples ‘actual’ experience of crime that makes them fear it but the possibility and anxiety they could be a victim rather than have been a victim – the indirect perspective of fear of crime. In today’s society people tailor routes they take avoiding times and places deemed as dangerous and unsafe. This increases anxiety levels as Smith, (1986) says it exposes people to ‘emotional’ stress and constricts their movements. It is argued the elderly and youngest members of our society are the most fearful of crime however, of these age groups the elderly have the lowest risk of becoming victims of crime (James, 1992). Cater and Jones (1989) suggest how in certain respects ‘fear of crime’ is irrational with research by Hough and Mayhew (1983) conclude that fear of crime is not necessarily related to experiences of victimisation itself or to statistical probability of victimisation. Crime victims are expected to show more anxiety towards victimisation than non-victims, however certain groups such as the elderly and young males the possibility of victimisation is more potent, though Smith (1986) states those most anxious are least at risk, arguing it is women and young males most at risk of becoming a victim. Cater and Jones (1989) observes it would be misleading to analyse emotions, especially fear to calculate rationalism. Kinsey (1984) states it is those with the most to lose who fear it most giving the example ‘Merseysiders in general worry a lot about crime but those under greatest social and economic pressure also suffer most from crime: they worry more, perhaps too much, but they do have the most to worry about’(p24). The most crime-ridden areas such as the inner-city and deprived council estates have the greatest fear of crime through the neighbourhood effect. This is again influencing a person’s fear of crime as a person might not directly having experienced being a victim but living in such an environment would be certain to influence the individuals perceptions of crime. Smith (1986)...

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