Friday, 28 September 2007

TAYSIDE: Many living in fear of crime

Many living in fear of crime

The fear of crime is blighting the lives of a significant number of people in Tayside with 29% of the region’s population afraid to walk alone in their own neighbourhoods after dark (writes Graeme Strachan).
The publication of the 2006 Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey indicates genuine public concern over vandalism, drug abuse, graffiti, theft and gangs.
The figures revealed 29.2% of Tayside folk feel “very” or “fairly” unsafe walking home after dark.
In Fife, the figure is 33.5%, ahead of the Scottish average of 32.3%.
People across the region are also living in fear of being mugged, robbed, attacked or assaulted.
The survey found 28.2% of people in Dundee are worried about being mugged or robbed, while 27.5% are afraid of being assaulted or attacked in their own neighbourhoods.
The study revealed 33.7% of people in Tayside were concerned about being broken into compared to 41.5% in Fife despite the risk of becoming a victim of household crime being lower than in 2002.
People in Tayside were asked if crime is a big problem in Scotland — 92% agreed but only 23% believed there was more crime in the region compared to two years ago.
The figures make worrying reading for Scottish ministers.
Compiled every three or four years, the study was conducted from the Scottish public’s experiences and perceptions of crime.
It found just over one million crimes were committed in Scotland against households and individuals between April 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006 — a 13% increase on 2003/04.
But only 36% of personal and 38% of household crimes came to the attention of the police.
Violent crime has increased in Scotland by more than a third in two years — minor assaults accounted for the vast bulk of the increase.
But some other crimes — housebreaking and theft from cars — has been falling.
Twenty-two per cent of those questioned had been the victim of at least one crime, but this did not represent a “significant” change on the previous year.
Crimes against property accounted for 56% of all offences, with the remaining 44% being crimes against the person.
The risk of being a victim of household crime rose slightly, but remains lower than the risk in 2002.
While robbery and serious assault remained relatively static, there was what the survey compilers describe as an “ever-increasing” number of minor assaults — 655 incidents per 100,000 adults in 2005-06, a 35% rise on the previous survey.
Those most at risk of crime were men and women in their late teens or early 20s, while the over 60s were said to be the least at risk.
Crime was considered a problem by 93% of respondents — and the only issues considered a bigger problem were alcohol and drugs.
A spokeswoman for Tayside Police said, “It must be stressed this survey focuses on perception of crime rather than reality.
“Often the fear of crime is raised through what people see on television or read in the Press.
“Tayside Police have a visible and high profile police presence in communities across the Force area, providing reassurance to local residents and visitors.
“A recent independent survey placed Dundee as one of the top three places where residents are least likely to have their home broken into.
“Serious crime in Tayside is rare and those few crimes that do occur have a very high detection rate.
“In most serious crime cases, the victim and accused are known to each other.
“Serious crime involving strangers is exceptionally rare.”

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