‘Perceptions of Crime: Findings from the 2015/16 Northern Ireland Crime Survey’ published today.

Date published: 16 December 2016

The Department of Justice (DOJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 31/2016 ‘Perceptions of Crime: Findings from the 2015/16 Northern Ireland Crime Survey’ (NICS). It is a National Statistics Publication.

‘Perceptions of Crime: Findings from the 2015/16 Northern Ireland Crime Survey’ (NICS)

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
  • perceptions of the effect of ‘fear of crime’ on quality of life

The bulletin can be found here: 

Key Findings

Drugs (73%), alcohol (59%) and a lack of discipline from parents (53%) were the three factors most commonly identified by NICS 2015/16 respondents as major causes of crime in Northern Ireland today.  When asked which single factor they considered to be the main cause of crime, the most common responses, cited by 33% and 18% of respondents respectively, were drugs and a lack of discipline from parents.

Three-fifths (60%) of NICS 2015/16 respondents thought crime levels in Northern Ireland had increased in the preceding two years.  Although this proportion remained on a par with NICS 2014/15 (58%), the NICS 2015/16 figure is 19 percentage points below that observed in 2003/04 (79%). 

As in previous sweeps of the survey, NICS 2015/16 respondents continued to be more positive in their perceptions of crime trends in their local area than at the regional level with 29% believing local crime levels had increased in the preceding two years.

Based on a seven-strand composite measure, findings from NICS 2015/16 show that 8% of respondents perceived the level of anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their local area to be high, unchanged (p<0.05) from NICS 2014/15 (8%). The NICS 2015/16 figure of 8% compares with 11% in England and Wales (Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) 2015/16).  Across the individual categories, ‘rubbish or litter lying around’ was most commonly identified as a problem in both jurisdictions (24% and 31% respectively). 

Of the demographic and socio-economic groups examined in NICS 2015/16, among those most likely to perceive ASB as a problem in their local area included: people living in the 20% most deprived areas of Northern Ireland (23%); single adults with child(ren) (21%); people living in social rented accommodation (21%); and those with a household income of less than £10,000 per annum (16%).

Despite a lower prevalence of crime in Northern Ireland, respondents to NICS 2015/16 displayed higher levels of worry about the crime types examined than their counterparts in England and Wales: burglary (14%, NICS 2015/16 v 11%, CSEW 2015/16); violent crime (14% v 12%); and car crime (9% v 6%).

For the crime types examined, the vast majority of NICS 2015/16 respondents believed it unlikely that they would fall victim during the coming year.  Overall, 10% of respondents thought it was likely that they would be the victim of burglary, 9% believed they would experience some form of vehicle-related theft, while 5% perceived themselves to be at risk of violent crime. 

At 73%, the majority of NICS 2015/16 respondents felt that ‘fear of crime’ has a minimal impact on their quality of life, a statistically significant increase (p<0.05) from the previous year (69%, NICS 2014/15). A further 23% 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 2015/16 participants most likely to state that their lives are greatly affected by ‘fear of crime’ were: those living in areas with a self-perceived high level of ASB (11%); respondents who are widowed (10%); those with a household income of less than £10,000 (10%); respondents with a limiting illness or disability (10%); and people living in social rented accommodation (10%).

Notes to editors: 

This publication is drawn from NICS 2015/16, 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 generally mirrors the format and core questions of the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW; formerly known as the British Crime Survey).

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
  • collect sensitive information, using self-completion modules, on people’s experiences regarding crime-related issues such as domestic violence.

The bulletin refers to fieldwork undertaken during the financial year 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016, which involved 1,975 people aged 16 years and over giving complete interviews.  This represents an eligible response rate of 67%.

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. 

The bulletin is available in PDF format only from either this website or Analytical Services Group, Laganside House, 23-27 Oxford Street, Belfast BT1 3LA (Telephone: 028 9072 4529; Email: statistics.research@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk).

Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DOJ Press Office on telephone number 028 9052 6444.

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