Perceptions of crime surveyed

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 1/2016 ‘Perceptions of Crime: Findings from the 2014/15 Northern Ireland Crime Survey’ (NICS). It is a National Statistics Publication.

crimeIn addition to describing respondents’ perceptions of causes of crime, recent crime levels and the extent of problems of anti-social behaviour in the local area, this bulletin illustrates three commonly used measures of concern about crime:

worry about crime and personal safety;
perceptions of the likelihood of victimisation; and
perceptions of the effect of ‘fear of crime’ on quality of life.
Key Findings
Drugs (73%), alcohol (62%) and a lack of discipline from parents (51%) were the three factors most commonly identified by NICS 2014/15 respondents as major causes of crime in Northern Ireland today. When asked which single factor they considered to be the main cause of crime, the most common responses, cited by 29% and 20% of respondents respectively, were drugs and a lack of discipline from parents.
Almost three-fifths (58%) of NICS 2014/15 respondents thought crime levels in Northern Ireland had increased in the preceding two years. Although this proportion remained on a par with NICS 2013/14 (57%), the NICS 2014/15 figure is 21 percentage points below that observed in 2003/04 (79%).
As in previous sweeps of the survey, NICS 2014/15 respondents continued to be more positive in their perceptions of crime trends in their local area than at the regional level with 28% believing local crime levels had increased in the preceding two years.
Based on a seven-strand composite measure, findings from NICS 2014/15 show that 8% of respondents perceived the level of anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their local area to be high, a statistically significant decrease (p<0.05) from 2013/14 (10%). The NICS 2014/15 figure of 8% compares with 11% in England and Wales (Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) 2014/15). Across the individual categories, ‘rubbish or litter lying around’ was most commonly identified as a problem in both jurisdictions (26% and 29% respectively).
Of the demographic and socio-economic groups examined in NICS 2014/15, those most likely to perceive ASB as a problem in their local area included: single parents (23%); people living in the 20% most deprived areas in Northern Ireland (21%); people living in social rented accommodation (21%); respondents who are divorced (20%); and respondents aged 16-24 (17%).
Despite a lower prevalence of crime in Northern Ireland, respondents to NICS 2014/15 displayed higher levels of worry about the crime types examined than their counterparts in England and Wales: violent crime (15%, NICS 2014/15 v 11%, CSEW 2014/15); burglary (15% v 10%); and car crime (11% v 7%).
For the crime types examined, the vast majority of NICS 2014/15 respondents believed it unlikely that they would fall victim during the coming year. Overall, 11% of respondents to NICS 2014/15 believed they would experience some form of vehicle-related theft, 10% thought it was likely that they would be the victim of burglary, while 7% perceived themselves to be at risk of violent crime.
At 69%, the majority of NICS 2014/15 respondents felt that ‘fear of crime’ has a minimal impact on their quality of life, a further 25% claimed it has a moderate effect, while the remaining five per cent stated their quality of life is greatly affected by their ‘fear of crime’.
Among those NICS 2014/15 participants most likely to state that their lives are greatly affected by ‘fear of crime’ were: residents in areas of self-perceived high ASB (15%); single parents (15%); respondents who are divorced (13%); residents of the 20% most deprived areas of Northern Ireland (12%); respondents with a limiting illness or disability (12%); and recent victims of crime reported to the police (12%).
Notes to editors:
This is the first publication to be drawn from NICS 2014/15, a representative, continuous personal interview survey of the experiences and perceptions of crime of adults living in private households throughout Northern Ireland. Previously conducted in 1994/95, 1998, 2001 and 2003/04, the NICS began operating on a continuous basis in January 2005. It generally mirrors the format and core questions of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW; formerly known as the British Crime Survey).

An alternative, but complementary, measure of crime to offences recorded by the police, the main aims of NICS are to:

measure crime victimisation rates experienced by people living in private households, whether or not these crimes were reported to or recorded by the police;
monitor trends in the level of crime, independent of changes in reporting levels or police recording practices;
measure people’s perceptions of and reactions to crime (for example, the level and causes of crime, the extent to which they are concerned about crime and the effect of crime on their quality of life);
identify the characteristics and circumstances of people most at risk from and affected by different types of crime;
measure public confidence in policing and the wider criminal justice system; and
collect sensitive information, using self-completion modules, on people’s experiences regarding crime-related issues such as domestic violence.
The bulletin refers to fieldwork undertaken during the financial year 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015, which involved 2,074 people aged 16 years and over giving complete interviews. This represents an eligible response rate of 72%.

National Statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference. They are also subject to restrictions in terms of pre-release access.

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