Belfast Telegraph

‘Perceptions of Crime: Findings from the 2012/13 Northern Ireland Crime Survey’ published today

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 1/2014 ‘Perceptions of Crime: Findings from the 2012/13 Northern Ireland Crime Survey’ (NICS). It is a National Statistics Publication.

In addition to describing respondents’ perceptions of causes of crime, recent crime levels and the extent of problems of anti-social behaviour in the local area, this bulletin illustrates three commonly used measures of concern about crime:

  • worry about crime and personal safety;
  • perceptions of the likelihood of victimisation; and
  • perceptions of the effect of ‘fear of crime’ on quality of life.

Key Findings

  • Drugs (68%), alcohol (60%) and a lack of discipline from parents (59%) were the three factors most commonly identified by NICS 2012/13 respondents as major causes of crime in Northern Ireland today.  When asked which single factor they considered to be the main cause of crime, 24% of respondents cited a ‘lack of discipline from parents’ while a further 22% cited ‘drugs’.
  • Around three-fifths (59%) of NICS 2012/13 respondents thought crime levels in Northern Ireland had increased in the preceding two years; although unchanged since 2011/12 (59%), the NICS 2012/13 figure is 20 percentage points below that observed in 2003/04 (79%).  While these results illustrate the tendency of most people to believe the level of crime is increasing, even when it is not, the decrease since 2003/04 may reflect the recent falls in crime evidenced by both the NICS and police recorded crime statistics.
  • As in previous sweeps of the survey, NICS 2012/13 respondents continued to be more positive in their perceptions of crime trends in their local area than at the regional level; just under a third (31%) believed local crime levels had increased in the preceding two years, down from 33% in 2011/12.
  • Based on a seven-strand composite measure, findings from NICS 2012/13 show that one in ten respondents (10%) perceived the level of anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their local area to be high, a statistically significant decrease (p<0.05) from NICS 2011/12 (12%).  This compares with 13% in England and Wales (Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) 2012/13).  Across the individual categories, ‘rubbish or litter lying around’ was most commonly identified as a problem in both jurisdictions (24% and 29% respectively).
  • Of the demographic and socio-economic groups examined in NICS 2012/13, those most likely to perceive ASB as a problem in their local area included: residents of the 20% most deprived areas of Northern Ireland (24%); young women aged 16-24 (21%); single parents (20%); recent victims of crime reported to the police (20%); and people living in social rented accommodation (19%).
  • Despite a lower prevalence of crime in Northern Ireland, NICS 2012/13 respondents were more likely than their CSEW 2012/13 counterparts to express high levels of worry across the following crime types examined: violent crime (17% v 12%); car crime (11% v 7%); and burglary (14% v 12%).  In terms of worry about crime in general, however, levels of worry were higher in England and Wales (9% v 7%).
  • Findings show that, for all three crime types considered, statistically significant decreases (p<0.05) were observed between NICS 2011/12 and 2012/13 in the proportions of respondents who perceived it likely they would be a victim of burglary (from 14% to 11%), car crime (15% to 12%) and violent crime (9% to 7%).  
  • While levels of worry about crime were higher in Northern Ireland than in England and Wales, NICS 2012/13 respondents were less likely than their CSEW 2012/13 counterparts to perceive themselves to be at risk of violent crime (7%; NICS 2012/13 v 11%; CSEW 2012/13) and car crime (12% v 15%); for burglary, a rate of 11% was observed in both jurisdictions.
  • At 70%, the majority of NICS 2012/13 respondents felt that ‘fear of crime’ has a minimal impact on their quality of life, a statistically significant improvement (p<0.05) since 2011/12 (67%).  A further 25% claimed it has a moderate effect, while the remaining four per cent stated their quality of life is greatly affected by their ‘fear of crime’.
  • Among those NICS 2012/13 respondents most likely to state that their lives are greatly affected by ‘fear of crime’ were: recent victims of crime reported to the police (12%); residents in areas of self-perceived high ASB (10%); people living in social rented accommodation (10%); those with a limiting illness or disability (9%); respondents who are divorced (9%); single parents (9%); and those with a household income of less than £10,000 per annum (9%).

Notes to editors:

1. This is the second publication to be drawn from NICS 2012/13, a representative, continuous personal interview survey of the experiences and perceptions of crime of adults living in private households throughout Northern Ireland. Previously conducted in 1994/95, 1998, 2001 and 2003/04, the NICS began operating on a continuous basis in January 2005.  It closely mirrors the format and core questions of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW; formerly known as the British Crime Survey). 
2. An alternative, but complementary, measure of crime to offences recorded by the police, the main aims of NICS are to:
measure crime victimisation rates experienced by people living in private households, whether or not these crimes were reported to or recorded by the police;
monitor trends in the level of crime, independent of changes in reporting levels or police recording practices;
measure people’s perceptions of and reactions to crime (for example, the level and causes of crime, the extent to which they are concerned about crime and the effect of crime on their quality of life);
identify the characteristics and circumstances of people most at risk from and affected by different types of crime;
measure public confidence in policing and the wider criminal justice system; and
collect sensitive information, using self-completion modules, on people’s experiences regarding crime-related issues such as domestic violence.
3. The bulletin refers to fieldwork undertaken during the financial year 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013, which involved 4,055 people aged 16 years and over giving complete interviews.  This represents an eligible response rate of 68%.
4. National Statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.  They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.  They are also subject to restrictions in terms of pre-release access.
Download the Perceptions of Crime: Findings from the 2012/13 Northern Ireland Crime Survey at
or alternatively contact
Analytical Services Group
Knockview Buildings
Stormont Estate
Telephone: 9052 3368

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