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Confidence in the police and the fear of crime in the developing world

Erik Alda (Department of Justice, Law and Criminology, The American University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Richard R. Bennett (Department of Justice, Law and Criminology, The American University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Melissa S. Morabito (School of Criminology and Justice Studies, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 15 May 2017

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Abstract

Purpose

The determinants of the fear of crime have been extensively investigated over the past three decades, yet few studies are comparative, include data from developing countries or use attitudes toward the police as explanatory variables. Understanding how perceptions of police performance influence fear of crime is essential to developing strategies which will reduce citizens’ isolation and reluctance to exert informal social control in their communities. Such lack of engagement creates opportunities for increased crime and disorder and heightens fear of crime. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This study examines the mediating effect of perceived confidence in the police on citizens’ fear of crime in seven developing Caribbean region countries using structural equation modeling. The data were collected in a 2011 United Nations survey from representative samples in each nation.

Findings

The results indicate that confidence in the police plays a significant and partial mediating role in explaining fear of crime and that community- and individual-level characteristics influence the level of confidence and independently affect fear of crime as well.

Originality/value

This is one of the few studies that employs comparative victimization data in the Caribbean to examine the role that confidence in the police has on fear of crime. The findings of this study will contribute to fill the gap in the understanding of the drivers of fear of crime in developing countries.

Keywords

Citation

Alda, E., Bennett, R.R. and Morabito, M.S. (2017), "Confidence in the police and the fear of crime in the developing world", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 366-379. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-03-2016-0045

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited