Public Health and Fear of Crime: A Prospective Cohort Study

Posted: 26 Oct 2009 Last revised: 8 Mar 2013

Jonathan Jackson

London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Methodology

Mai Stafford

University College London

Date Written: November 1, 2009

Abstract

Public insecurities about crime are widely assumed to erode individual well-being and community cohesion. Yet, robust evidence on the link between worry about crime and health is surprisingly scarce. This paper draws on data from a prospective cohort study (the Whitehall II study) to show a strong statistical effect of mental health and physical functioning on worry about crime. Combining with existing evidence, we suggest a feedback model in which worry about crime harms health, which, in turn, serves to heighten worry about crime. We conclude with the idea that, while fear of crime may express a whole set of social and political anxieties, there is a core to worry about crime that is implicated in real cycles of decreased health and perceived vulnerability to victimization. The challenge for future study is to integrate core aspects of the everyday experience of fear of crime with the more layered and expressive features of this complex social phenomenon.

Keywords: fear of crime, public health, vulnerability, longitudinal research

Suggested Citation

Jackson, Jonathan and Stafford, Mai, Public Health and Fear of Crime: A Prospective Cohort Study (November 1, 2009). The British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 49, No. 6, pp. 832-847, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1493047 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azp033

Jonathan Jackson (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science - Department of Methodology ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+0044-207-955-7652 (Phone)

Mai Stafford

University College London

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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