Study shows lasting impact of Government focus on crime fears

Burglary was a key issue in the Thatcher years. Picture: PA/PA Wire
Burglary was a key issue in the Thatcher years. Picture: PA/PA Wire
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BE IT Thatcher, Blair or Callaghan, the political leadership during your formative years appears to have a strong impact on people’s perception of crime, Yorkshire academics have found.

A new study led by the University of Sheffield and involving researchers in Paris and Southampton analysed three decades of data on fear of crime from the British Crime Survey.

They found a strong relationship between the political periods in which people ‘came of age’ - from age 15 to 25 - and their perception of crime, even decades later.

People who grew up under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher or John Major - who witnessed a dramatic rise in property crime in the 1980s - expressed the greatest fear about domestic burglary; while those who came of age during the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown reported the highest level of concern about vandalism, teenagers loitering and noisy neighbours - policy priorities at the time. The Wilson/Callaghan (1974–1979) generation expressed the highest levels of worry about robbery and mugging.

Professor Stephen Farrall, from the University of Sheffield’s School of Law, said: “Our narratives of crime and disorder tell us something important about the enduring influence of our political history and the stories we hear about crime.”