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Thursday, November 12, 2015

“Community Empowerment” Group Neighborhood Fear of Crime Measurements

“Community Empowerment” Group
Neighborhood Fear of Crime Measurements

As one of the components of the “Community Empowerment” program is to reduce the fear of crime in the local area, a first step in planning this component is to analyze the question. How do we determine what the level of fear of crime in our neighborhood is currently at? By determining the current level of fear, the outcome of the program can be measured; the pre-intervention level of fear can be measured against the post-intervention level of fear. Two methods of measurement are proposed; a self-report survey for community residents, and an observational study of people walking/jogging in the community after dark. These methods will be discussed in two parts:

Part 1 – Self-Report Survey

The self-report survey will be sent out, with a pre-paid response envelope, to every residence in the community, and will measure fear on a family unit basis. There is no associated codebook, as the survey is based on scale of 1 to 10. There will be no inducements offered to complete the survey, and no identification of respondents. These parameters allow us to target the community specifically and to standardize responses. The survey itself is presented as follows:

Hello Citizen,

We are asking for a few moments of your time to measure fear of crime in our community. This is to aid the “Community Empowerment” program to determine how valid our methods are. Your response will be anonymous, and will be valuable in making this community safety program work! The questions we ask are of the family as a whole, so please try to check with everyone in the family.

Please answer the following questions on a scale of 1 through 10, with 1 indicating no level of fear, and 10 representing the highest level of fear.

  1. How afraid of crime in general is your family? _____
  2. How afraid of property crime (burglary, car theft) is your family? _____
  3. How afraid of violent crime is your family? _____
  4. How afraid of crime in school is your family? _____
  5. How afraid of minor crime (vandalism, juvenile truancy) is your family? _____

Part II – The Observational Method

The observational method is based on the premise that “feeling unsafe walking alone after dark” is one indicator of fear of crime (Tseloni & Zarafonitou, 2008, abstract). The number of people walking alone after dark can be measured pre-test and post-test in the following manner. We obtain permission from (5) home owners to park in their driveway. The homes we choose to observe from must be dispersed throughout the community for thorough observation. Then the observers make a visual count of people walking alone, accounted by hour, from dusk to five hours past sunset. These number can be compared pre-program to post-program, but we should be aware that seasonal changes can also account for confounds in these numbers, so it is best to perform the post-test in the same time of year as the pre-test; this may mean that for the best measurement results, we may need to wait some time after the program has been implemented to conduct the post-test.


Tseloni, A. and Zarafonitou, C. (2008). Fear of crime and victimization:A multivariate multilevel analysis of competing measurements. European Journal of Criminology:vol. 5 no. 4. doi: 10.1177/1477370808095123

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