How many people really worry about crime? As part of a major crime survey, respondents were asked how much they worried about housebreaking on two occasions during the questionnaire. On each occasion, they were given identical 5-point worry scales to choose from. The data were combined, and developed into a 9-point scale. Only 22 (2%) claimed that they worried all the time on both occasions. Respondents were asked similarly paired questions about their worries about assault and vandalism. All three pairs were summed into a 24-point scale. Only 4 respondents (0.3% of the total) worried all the time on both occasions they were asked about the three types of victimisation. Respondents were also later asked how safe they felt when in alone at night, and when out alone at night. Unusually (for crime surveys) they were also asked how often they stayed in alone and how often they went out alone. The largest single group (57%) feel safe in, stay in, and would feel safe if they went out. The next biggest group (19%) feel safe in, go out, and feel safe when out. Some 14% feel safe in, stay in, but would feel unsafe when out. Since they don't go out, they don't have a problem. Nor do the 1% who feel unsafe in, go out, and feel safe when out. Another 1 % feel unsafe in, stay in, but would feel safe out (they should perhaps go out). About 2% feel safe in, go out, and feel unsafe when out (they should stay in). Finally, 1% (14 respondents) feel unsafe in, go out, and feel unsafe out; and 4% (45 respondents) feel unsafe in, stay in, and feel unsafe out. This last group - totalling only 5% - admittedly have a problem. But when we compare this group of 59 with their degree of worry on the initial 24-point scale, only one person has a problem. She worries about all types of victimisation all the time, and she feels unsafe in alone at night, stays in, and would feel unsafe if she went out. The chapter concludes with the question: is this a medical or a social problem?
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