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NCJ Number: 67751 Find in a Library
Title: CAUSES AND EFFECTS OF THE FEAR OF CRIME
Journal: JURISTISCHE BLAETTER  Volume:100  Issue:7/8  Dated:(APRIL 15, 1978)  Pages:173-183
Author(s): G ARZT
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 11
Format: Article
Language: German
Country: West Germany (Former)
Annotation: THE EFFECTS OF THE GROWING FEAR OF CRIME AND LOSS OF PUBLIC SECURITY IN THE UNITED STATES AND THE POSSIBILITY OF SIMILAR DEVELOPMENTS IN WESTERN EUROPE ARE DISCUSSED.
Abstract: QUOTATIONS FROM SPEECHES BY AMERICAN PRESIDENTS SHOW HOW CRIME HAS BEEN A CENTRAL ELECTION THEME SINCE 1964. IN THE POPULAR VIEW, PROSPEROUS SUBURBS ARE FORTIFIED AND PROTECTED BY ALARMS, WINDOW BARS, AND PRIVATE WEAPONS, WHILE INNER CITY GHETTOS ARE TERRORIZED BY RAMPANT CRIME WHICH DEFIES POLICE CONTROL. FEAR OF CRIME, HOWEVER, IS NOT NECESSARILY BASED ON A REAL THREAT, BUT ON FEELINGS OF INSECURITY AROUSED BY SUCH PHENOMENA AS TERRORIST ACTIVITIES (E.G., IN WEST GERMANY) OR WIDESPREAD PETTY CRIME. AS A RULE, CITIZENS BOTH IN THE UNITED STATES AND WEST GERMANY ARE MOST INTIMIDATED BY REPORTS OF CRIMES OUTSIDE THEIR IMMEDIATE SPHERE, SUGGESTING A PRONOUNCED MEDIA INFLUENCE. INSECURITY IS FOUNDED IN REALITY WHEN THE RISK TO VICTIMS IS SO HIGH THAT INDIVIDUALS CAN COUNT ON BEING VICTIMIZED DESPITE AVOIDANCE, WHICH IS THE CASE FOR BURGLARY AND THEFT IN THE UNITED STATES. INCREASED CRIME RATES AND FEAR OF CRIME HAVE CAUSED CHANGES IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR, E.G., CONCENTRATION OF CRIME FIGHTING RESOURCES ON THE MOST SERIOUS CRIMES AND ON CERTAIN GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS. MEANWHILE, GROWTH OF PETTY CRIME ALONG WITH POLICE FAILURE TO INVESTIGATE CERTAIN CRIMES FROM THE IMMEDIATE SPHERE OR CRIMES WITH AN OFFENDER-VICTIM RELATIONSHIP, THE OVERUSE OF PLEA BARGAINING, AND HEIGHTENED INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS TO COMPENSATE FOR CRIME LOSSES. PRIVATE SECTOR REACTIONS INCLUDE GROWTH OF THE PROTECTION DEVICE INDUSTRY AND LIMITATIONS ON INDIVIDUAL ACTIVITIES, WHICH FURTHER INTENSIFY INSECURITY FEELINGS. DESPITE QUANTITATIVE CRIME REDUCTION, THE SEVERITY OF CRIMES COMMITTED HAVE INCREASED ONCE PRIVATE CITIZENS TO BEGIN TO TAKE THE LAW INTO THEIR OWN HANDS BECAUSE OF INADEQUATE OFFICIAL ACTION, THE TRADITIONAL CRIME CONTROL SYSTEM IS UNDERMINED. THUS, VICTIMOLOGY GRADUALLY BECOMES AN ALIBI FOR WITHDRAWAL OF THE STATE FROM CRIME CONTROL. ALTHOUGH THE RISK OF VICTIMIZATION IS NOT AS HIGH IN WESTERN EUROPE AS IN THE UNITED STATES, THE ABOVE-MENTIONED TENDENCIES CAN BE OBSERVED IN WEST GERMANY, ESPECIALLY THE POLICE APPEAL TO CITIZENS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES. FEELINGS OF INSECURITY CAN BE CONTROLLED BY NOT INTERPRETING THE DEFINITION OF LEGAL PROPERTY TOO NARROWLY, BY AVOIDING OVEREMPHASIS ON SELF-HELP, BY COMBATTING MINOR AS WELL AS MAJOR CRIMES, BY PREVENTING PLURALISM FROM ENRICHING A SELECTED FEW AT THE EXPENSE OF THE MAJORITY, AND BY SEEKING OUT THE REAL CAUSES OF CRIME. NOTES ARE FURNISHED. --IN GERMAN. (KMD)
Index Term(s): Crime prevention measures; Fear of crime; Germany; Police attitudes; Public Attitudes/Opinion; United States of America
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67751

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