Seattle — crime up, fear down

Since 2015, Seattle has completed an annual resident survey as part of its community policing strategy. As reported here, observers were surprised to see that fear of crime decreased in 2021, even though reported crime increased, including both violent and property crime. In fact, violent crime increased about 20% and, for the first time, was among the top five themes identified by survey respondents. One possible explanation for the mismatch between fear and reported crime is that perceived social and physical disorder improved — “things like disorderly conduct, public drug and alcohol consumption, graffiti, litter and so on.” The survey leader noted that “Much of the fear of crime is just a perception of how safe people feel about their environment.”

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