Danish Policy on Public perception of safety

Safety and its opposite, fear of crime, are two important and central issues in crime prevention efforts. Recent years have brought a significant increase in the number of studies and surveys in the area, and consequently also an increase in the understanding of the phenomenon. It is a rather well-established fact that fear of crime is not solely related to actual levels of crime, but also to things such as health, economic, and work status etc.

There are a number of surveys covering the feeling of security and safety in a Danish context.

Since 1985 the part of the population who worry about crime has been measured. The figures show that since the mid-1990s, when the amount of people who worried a lot was between 60% and 70 there has been a steady decline in that amount. Since 2000 this percentage has been under 40% in most polls and recently under 30 At the other end of the scale, the amount of people not at all worried about crime has risen from 5% in 1990 (the option of not worrying at all was not introduced before that time) to 15% in 2012.

In 2012 the latest European Social Survey was carried out, and it showed that Danes are among the least worried in Europe, when it comes to being worried about being a victim of crime. This is not quite consistent with the fact that Danes are relatively likely to be victimized by burglary compared to other countries in Europe. Viewed positively, Danes seem to be resilient towards crime and not so easily affected or scared, which is often mentioned as a desirable outcome of crime preventive efforts. Viewed negatively, Danes are not conscious enough of the risk of burglary, and therefore do not pay enough attention to preventing burglary by for instance securing their home or joining a neighborhood watch scheme. 

Recently, a new form of addressing the feeling of security, which is related to actual crime incidents, has evolved. It is theoretically linked to the situational or place based approach to crime prevention. When studying this phenomenon you also measure the publics fear of crime, but when doing so you ask the respondent to indicate, describe, and not least localize a particular incident that made them insecure or afraid. This approach hopes to eliminate some of the influence from sources not related to actual crime, and thus to better enable the police and other authorities to target problem areas.

Links:To read the European Social Survey, click here.

To read the report from the Danish Ministry of Justice on concern for violence and crime, click here.