What do we need to talk about?

As part of our Crime Matters blog, Madison Lindley, our 25th Anniversary Campaign Intern reviews some of the results of the Crime Matters Survey. Madison is a postgraduate with a BSc in Psychology and Sociology and an MSc in Clinical Criminology.

As part of our 25th Anniversary celebrations we asked you ‘does crime matter’? Two thousand of you responded with a resounding ‘yes’. Obviously that’s a relief for us at Crimestoppers as the UKs only crime-fighting charity, because if it didn’t matter then we could all go home. Plus, in hindsight it would have been pretty embarrassing to call our blogging campaign ‘#CrimeMatters’!

Crime is an issue we need to talk about

So what do we need to talk about? What crimes do the public think really matter? Our survey revealed that on a national level you’re most concerned about:

  • Sexual assault (anything from harassment to rape)
  • Terrorism
  • Murder

At a local level you are more worried about:

  • Burglary
  • Theft
  • Robbery

What defines local or national crime?

The results raise some interesting questions.

Terrorism as a political and often violent crime is an obvious choice for a national issue, but are murder and sexual violence really in the same category?

Sexual assault and murder are far more likely to be committed by someone known to the victim.

Male victims are often murdered by a friend/acquaintance and the majority of women are murdered by their partners/ex-partners according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) report on violent crime and sexual offences. Patterns of perpetrators differ depending on the type of sexual assault; however around 90 per cent of the most serious sexual offences are committed by someone known to the victim. Therefore you could argue that these are local crimes rather than national ‘crime waves’.

Should you wish to learn more about how to report assault crimes are unsure of what to do next, take a look at My Decision run by the Metropolitan Police.

Media coverage and crime

A possible explanation for national concern over sexual violence and murder is the amount of national media coverage they receive. For example, the high media profile of Operation Yewtree or the coverage of Joanna Yeates’ murder.

Murders (although rare) and some sexual violence (although extremely underreported) make it into the national media at a higher rate than more popular crimes because of their high ‘news values’ (Jewkes, 2011). The media presents ‘unusual’ (often localised and one-off) crimes as a national issue, which in turn informs public opinion and perception of crime levels.

Have UK crime levels decreased?

The Crime Survey for England and Wales revealed crime decreased by 10 per cent in 2013 compared to the previous year (in fact it was the lowest reported since records began in 1981). However, 60 per cent of survey respondents did not believe UK crime levels were falling. We may speculate that this is because of the media’s portrayal of crime.

Although falling crime rates are good news, it is not enough. As long as there is crime in the UK, Crimestoppers will be there to help bring criminals to justice by allowing the public to give information anonymously.

How is Crimestoppers helping to reduce crime?

Does our function as a charity stop at allowing people to report crime anonymously?

A large proportion of you listed ‘educating the public about crime and crime prevention’ as one of the top three functions of Crimestoppers. That’s what we aim to do through our campaigns on a national and local level.

As an example of education campaigns, we ran the informational media campaign Putpockets to teach the public the pickpockets’ tactics to help prevent more people falling victim to theft. Or the #SaferWarks campaign in Warwickshire?

At Crimestoppers, our campaigns and service covers everything from Cannabis cultivation to rural crime to fighting fraud and everything in between. This task of educating and informing the public on crime preventative measures is something we’d like to continue on our blog.

Keep talking to us about crime

“93 per cent of you believe everyone has a responsibility to prevent crime.”

We plan to carry on the conversation about the crimes you raised as local and national issues in our blog and continue our mission to inform, discuss, and hopefully prevent crime by raising awareness. We hope you’ll get involved!

The survey told us that 93 per cent of you believe everyone has a responsibility to prevent crime. Over 43 per cent of you are willing to volunteer your time for a local group and 29 per cent would kindly donate their money.

In the future we will be contacting those who expressed an interest and we look forward to continuing the work we do with new supporters and volunteers for 2014 and beyond.