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Fear of Crime as Background of Penal Politics? (From Policing in Central and Eastern Europe: Dilemmas of Contemporary Criminal Justice, P 126-133, 2004, Gorazd Mesko, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-207973)

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2004
8 pages

This study combined quantitative and qualitative research methods to examine individuals' fear of crime in Freiburg, a city of approximately 200,000 residents in Germany.


The initial sample consisted of 293 randomly selected individuals ages 18 and older. The districts selected for the study had varying crime rates and fear of crime as determined from previous studies of the districts. The response rate was 49.76 percent. Thirty subjects from the initial sample were selected for the qualitative interviews. Twenty-four subjects were rated by the survey as being highly fearful of becoming a crime victim, and 6 had no fear of crime. The latter group was included in further analyses to determine the genuineness and consistency of their lack of fear of crime. The study found that the fear of crime was overstated when measured only through a questionnaire. In 46 percent of the cases in which respondents expressed strong feelings of insecurity when walking outside alone in their neighborhood at night, subsequent interviews showed that survey ratings were not commensurate with the ratings given by interviewers. This places in doubt the reliability of the traditional quantitative approach for measuring the fear of crime. Further research is required to develop more precise methods of measuring fear of crime. 1 table, 1 figure, and 16 references

Date Published: September 1, 2004