30/06/2004

'Switched-off' public hindering prevention, says crime survey

The public's "switched-off" attitude to crime prevention campaigns is hindering community safety professionals in their efforts to deliver safer, more secure communities, according to a major study funded by the Home Office.

Nearly 1,000 Tees Valley households were surveyed to provide a picture of the public's attitudes to crime prevention. The study was commissioned by Safe in Tees Valley, the community-safety consortium operating across the Tees Valley.

The report, 'Informing the Effective Use of Publicity and Media Campaigns to Reduce Crime and the Fear of Crime', found that two-out-of-three respondents (67%) claimed they "know all there is to know" about how to protect themselves from becoming victims of crime.

In addition, 43% of respondents did not believe that improving the security of their home or vehicle would make any difference to the chances of their becoming victims of crime.

Of all respondents, ethnic minority residents were most likely to be cynical about the benefits of crime reduction, with 64% believing that improving the security of their home or vehicle would make little or no difference to the chances that they may become victims of crime.

"These findings are a challenge to those of us working to reduce crime and fear of crime in our communities," said John Bentley, Programme Director for Safe in Tees Valley.

"We walk a fine line between delivering effective crime prevention messages, all while ensuring that our campaigns don't increase the public's fear of crime.

"This study will help us send the right messages, targeted in the right way at the right groups."

The importance of getting the message right is reflected in one of the study's most encouraging findings, the Home Office said.

It was shown that, when crime-prevention campaigns were recalled, 70% had influenced respondents' behaviour and in 90% of cases, the impact was long-term.

The report also found that to be effective, future campaigns will have to challenge people's complacent attitude toward crime prevention.

(gmcg)

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