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Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009
Fear of crime? Or of statistics?

Police line: do not cross sign

Bristol police, council, health service, fire and rescue and drug agencies will come under the spotlight on Friday for Safer Bristol's day of action.

The Safer Bristol partnership aims to bring together the organisations which aim to make Bristol safer - whether by combating crime, anti-social behaviour or tackling drug abuse.

But do you feel safe in Bristol?

University of the West of England senior lecturer in criminology, Keiran McCartan, says the fear of crime is far worse than the reality.

"Research and studies always show there is a greater fear of crime than there is an actuality of crime.

"People tend to believe that crime is on the increase when in actual fact the police statistics show the majority of crime, especially violent crime, seems to be falling."

But Mr McCartan warns that comparing statistics can be a dangerous game, as ways of reporting crime become easier.

Clearer statistics

"The bigger question isn't when did it [crime levels] start to go up. The bigger question is when did it start to be recorded. And, the bigger question is when did it start to be reported more.

"You could argue that we live in a far more violent society than we have ever done, and I think very few people would disagree with that, however we are reporting more crimes to the police. The police are recording more crimes, we have clearer statistics.

"So in actual fact the question must be asking: did it ever increase and do we know simply more about the levels of crime that are out there, rather than this idea that crime is increasing exponentially every single year."

But how safe is Bristol? Mr McCartan says the public should put crime into perspective and avoid potential trouble spots.

"I think it can be quite safe. For example, I was in town on Friday night and I felt perfectly safe standing opposite the Hippodrome waiting on a taxi. I didn't feel endangered and that was at maybe 1am.

"I think people have to take these things into perspective. If you know there's a certain area where you're more likely to be a victim of crime... then don't go that way."

You can hear more about Safer Bristol day on Breakfast with Richard Wyatt on BBC Radio Bristol between 6am and 9am.


What do you think? Is Bristol safer? Will the day of action help make residents believe Bristol is safer? Let us know.


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