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Fear of crime has become a significant issue in today’s societies. Many people express their feelings about crime and their fear of being victimized. There are many factors that contribute to the extent of fear of crime such as age, gender, vulnerability, environmental conditions etc. The main way criminologists research fear of crime is through survey questionnaires. This method has strengths but also a lot of weaknesses that is why many argue fear of crime survey’s validity and accuracy (e.g. Bernard, 1992).Survey questionnaires have become one of the most popular research methods to gather quantitative data and there are many reasons for that. First, a large amount of information can be collected from a large number of people (Crow, 2007). By sending questionnaires to workplaces, schools, universities etc. they make it possible to gather data in a short period of time and in a cost-effective way. Second, questionnaires often include closed questions and the results of these questions can be easily and quickly analysed by using a software package (Crow, 2007). Third, in the case of a large sample size, which is representative, generalizations can be made and they may be compared to other researches and measure changes (McLeod, 2014). All these advantages make survey questionnaires so popular because when it comes to measuring fear of crime criminologists need to have a big population so they could conclude generalizations.On the other hand, there are many limitations of survey questionnaires that is why their reliability is often questioned. For example, Jackson (2005) states that for many years, doubts have been raised about validity and reliability of measures of the fear of crime. First of all, respondents usually have to answer closed questions which means that they just have to tick a box that best suits their attitude towards the question. Because of this, they are unable to express their emotions, the context of the whole situation is not clearly presented, circumstances of why they had chosen that particular answer is unclear. This is what Farral (1997) calls a conceptual issue. Second of all questionnaires with closed questions cannot capture the experience in full-depth. Many factors that might contribute to the level of fear are not addressed such as social, geographical, temporal attributes. That is why Farral (1997) argues that surveys only produce generalized answers to questions and the full context is not explored. Furthermore, there are technical issues as well. Open questions and closed questions may produce different results. For example, when the elderly population was asked a closed question about whether they are concerned about the crime, 23 percent of them said ‘yes’ but when they were asked in an open question what they were fearful of, only 1 per cent considered crime as a problem (Harris and Associates, 1975). Additionally, there are also weaknesses of the surveys that make them unreliable. For instance, they lack validity. There is no way to tell how much thought the respondent has put in or how truthful she/he was. Also, respondents might interpret the questions differently. Crow (2007) claims that despite the fact questionnaires are the most comfortable way to gather data they should not be used to understand more complex issues.Researchers should also take into considerations the reasons why one might be fearful and another might not. These reasons can be divided into six factors which are vulnerability, environmental conditions, knowledge of crime and victimisation, confidence in the police, perceptions of personal risk, perceived seriousness of offences. Probably one of the most influential factor is vulnerability. Researches have shown that there are 4 groups who fall into this category the elders, women, the poor and ethnic minorities. These are the groups who feel less protected in some way but in order to clearly understand fear we need to categorize crimes. For example, women are more fearful of sexual assaults than men but male individuals are more afraid of assaults than females. Moreover, age plays a significant role as well. Elderly people are much more concerned about being a victim of a robbery or a burglary because of physical limitations which create a high level of fear of crime (Farral, 2008). Another significant factor that generates fear is environmental conditions. People may become fearful because of an unsavory neighborhood. For instance, trash on the streets, abandoned buildings, graffitis suggest an economically declining and threatening neighborhood and these characteristics may produce not only a generalized anxiety but a specific fear of crime (Eve and Eve, 1984). It is also generally accepted belief that people who have been a victim of a crime before will more likely to be fearful of crimes (Hough, 1985). However, Agnew (1985) states that sometimes these victims neutralize their experiences by believing that they have learned from it or by appealing to higher loyalties, like protecting someone. There are more factors that contribute to fear of crime such as confidence in the police if people think that the police do their job effectively they are less likely to be fearful.In conclusion, it can be seen that researching fear of crime is not that simple. Although fear of crime questionnaires improved over the years they are still not that reliable because of their many limitations. That is why researchers, criminologists argue that their validity is questionable and there should be more reliable means of gathering data about this phenomenon.

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