Reliability and Stability of the Standard Fear of Crime Indicator in a National Panel Over 14 Years

Rainer Schnell, Marcel Noack


Reducing citizens’ fear of crime is a salient policy topic in Western
societies. For the measurement of fear of crime, variations of a single
item measure (Is there any area near where you live that is, within a
mile where you would be afraid to walk alone at night?) have been
used in hundreds of surveys for half a century. Despite a long and on-
going discussion on the doubtful usefulness of this standard indicator,
no estimate for the reliability of this item is available. Using panel data
from the British Household Panel Survey in combination with the UK
Household Longitudinal Survey, reliability and stability of the stan-
dard fear of crime indicator are estimated using quasi-Markov simplex
models for the rst time. The model shows estimated reliabilities of
about .67 for the standard indicator. This result is compared with re-
sults for other single item measures using the same data set. Finally,
comparisons with reliability recommendations and recent reviews of
survey measures are reported.


Panel, fear of crime, Wiley and Wiley model, reliability, stability

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