Summary - Pursued by fear

A quantitative comparison of fear of victimisation and general feelings of unsafety

Original title: Achtervolgd door angst.

This publication focuses on fear of victimisation as one of the most urgent aspects of subjective unsafety. Dutch research on subjective unsafety often uses a standard question drawn from the series of national Safety Monitors published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS): ‘Do you occasionally feel unsafe?’. Government policy aimed at reducing subjective unsafety among the Dutch public is also based on this general indicator. The goal of this policy is to reduce the percentage of Dutch citizens who occasionally feel unsafe by 10% in 2017 compared with 2012. However, it is not clear precisely what an affirmative answer to this general question means. Does it mean people are afraid? Or do they believe that there is lots of crime in their vicinity? Or does it reflect their view that Dutch society is not adequately protected against threats to safety? Consequently, it is also not certain that successfully reducing feelings of unsafety by 10% will relieve the most pressing problems for Dutch citizens.

In line with the international literature that focuses on ‘fear of crime’ in research and policy, we investigate whether fear of victimisation could offer an alternative route for Dutch policy. This report describes the development and testing of a conceptual model of fear of victimisation, which enables us to identify risk factors for that fear. The degree to which those risk factors differ from the risk factors for general feelings of unsafety provides pointers for changing the emphases in current policy, particularly the introduction of social measures in addition to measures in the physical environment.