Two pilot sites (Waltham Forest and Sofia) carried out telephone interviews with a representative sample of 750 people living or working in the area or district of the City. On the other hand, Rome opted to conduct a web-based survey using a popular city web-based forum and a modified questionnaire. This resulted in a sample of over 21,000 respondents from the 15 municipalities of the capital.
Local crime rates and perceptions of the criminal justice system
We asked a series of questions about perceptions of local crime rates in the three pilot sites.
- Most respondents perceived crime rates in their city to be average when compared with the rest of their country. Whilst in Sofia, respondents felt that crime rates hadn’t changed since they had lived or worked in the area, those in Waltham Forest and Rome felt crime rates had risen.
- The level of confidence in the ability of local criminal justice agencies to adequately deal with crime varied considerably across the three sites. In Rome, respondents had the least confidence in their local criminal justice agencies.
- Whilst over half of the respondents in Waltham Forest were confident in the ability of local police officers to deal with minor crimes, those in Sofia and Rome expressed less confidence.
- In Waltham Forest and Rome, most respondents were confident that the police understood the issues that affected their local communities. However, in Sofia, respondents felt that the police had little understanding of local issues.
Fear of crime and its impact
- Respondents were asked to describe how worried they were about crime and whether their concern had a subsequent impact on their daily lives. Generally, respondents in all three pilot sites were ‘worried to some extent’ about crime, although those in Sofia and Rome expressed more concern than respondents from Waltham Forest.
- Respondents were asked to assess how the fear of crime affected the quality of their lives. Almost all the respondents from Sofia said that the quality of their lives was indeed affected by their fear of crime. Respondents from Rome and Waltham Forest were less affected by the fear of crime.
- We asked whether respondents felt safe walking in their local area during the day and after dark. Whilst the same proportion of respondents in Sofia reported feeling safe walking alone in the day and after dark, fewer respondents from Waltham Forest and Rome felt safe walking alone after dark in their local area.
- Across the three sites, respondents reported modifying or changing behaviours because of the fear of being the victim of a crime. This was most likely to be the case in Rome.
- We asked which crime people were most worried being the victim of. Respondents from Sofia expressed very high levels of concern for all the crimes types listed. Comparatively, those in Rome and Waltham Forest were less concerned about being the victim of a crime. Across the three sites, burglary was the crime most commonly feared by respondents. Other crimes that caused concern were having items stolen from a car or their own car stolen (Sofia and Rome), whereas being mugged or robbed featured prominently in the responses from Waltham Forest.
Experiences of crime
- Following on from discussing the fear of crime, respondents were then asked about being the victim of a crime. The majority of respondents across the three pilot sites had not been a victim of crime in the previous 12 months.
- In Waltham Forest and Rome, the crime most commonly experienced by respondents was vehicle damage. Burglary was another specific crime type experienced in Waltham Forest and having property damaged or tampered with was commonly reported by respondents in Rome.
- In Sofia, there were discrepancies in the data regarding respondent’s experiences of being a victim of crime and about the experiences of specific crimes; we have therefore decided not to report on any specific crime in detail from this site.
- Respondents across the three sites tended to report crime(s) either in person at a police station or by phoning the police. Fewer respondents used text-based or online methods of reporting crimes.
- Greater satisfaction was reported by respondents from Waltham Forest when discussing how their crime report was dealt with than respondents in Rome. Having less paper work, reducing the time it takes to report a crime and being able to report via a mobile or online were the most common suggestions put forward by respondents across the three cities. Fewer respondents from Rome than Waltham Forest were interested in seeking alternative ways (e.g. via a mobile phone or online) of reporting a crime.
Role of citizens in community safety
- In all the pilot sites, respondents believed that conducting citizen consultations about crime and community safety issues was a worthwhile process. We asked respondents whether there was a willingness in their local area to work together with citizens and criminal justice agencies to tackle crime and community safety issues. Whilst respondents in Rome and Waltham Forest perceived there to be a high degree of willingness amongst citizens in their local area, less shared this willingness in Sofia.
- For all three sites, working with young people to reduce their involvement in criminal activity was seen as a priority and one that would reduce crime rates and improve everyone’s feeling of safety in their local area.
Readiness to use new technologies
- In the final section of the survey, we asked respondents about their preparedness to use technologies to address crime and safety issues in their communities.
- First, we asked about ownership and the use or a range of devices. Across the three sites, most people owned a smart phone. Higher proportions reported ownership of a tablet than a smart TV.
- Social networking apps were the most commonly used apps in Waltham Forest and Rome. Willingness to report crime via an app, if it was possible, was high across all sites, in particular Sofia. There were similar levels of interest in obtaining and sharing information about a crime in their local area in real-time via an app.
- Finally, respondents were asked what kind of information they would want from an app. In Waltham Forest and Rome, the most commonly mentioned, from a pre-defined list of options, was information about local crime hot-spots. In contrast, residents in Sofia were most interested in an app with local travel information.