“Measuring What Matters: Crime, Disorder, and Fear.” National Institute of Justice:
Proceedings From the Policing Research Institute Meetings, July 1999 (NCJ 170610),
p. 37-54.
This chapter considers two issues: 1) measuring the possible effects of an innovative policing
program, and 2) doing so in a framework that could support the inference that the program
caused variations that the measurements might reveal.  Measurement involves (among other
things) the collection of data that represent–sometimes only indirectly–the problems that
programs target.  These are “outcome” measures, and it is vital that they represent the scope
of a program’s intentions as accurately as possible. One cannot divorce what is measured from
how the measures can be linked causally to programs. What evaluators call the “logic model” of
a program–how, exactly, it is supposed to have its desired effect–needs to be specified clearly
enough that appropriate outcomes can be identified and their measures specified.  For
instance, if evaluating a crime prevention program, exactly what kinds of crimes involving what
kinds of victims during what periods of the day or night should we examine for evidence of
impact? This essay focuses on measurement issues, but it addresses issues through concrete
examples of how measures have been used to make judgements about the impact of
programs.  It examines some of the experiences the evaluation community has had in taking the
vital signs of a community by measuring crime, disorder, and fear.
“The Various Meanings of Fear," in Wolfgang Bilsky, Christian Pfeiffer and Peter
Wetzels (eds.), The Fear of Crime and Criminal Victimization. Stuttgart: Enke, 1993,
There have been several efforts to clarify the meaning of the concept of "fear of crime". Most
found it troublesome that there is no clear consensus among researchers on what the concept
fear of crime means or how it is best measured. This chapter argues that this apparent
heterogeneity of meaning simply reflects the fact that fear of crime is a general concept. It is
suited for everyday conversation (Americans frequently talk about fear of crime and its social
and political effects), but the concept needs to be refined for research purposes. How it is best
defined depends upon the purpose of the research and the theoretical framework within which
the research is being conducted. Therefore, any specific definition of fear of crime is not
correct or incorrect; rather, it is either useful or not useful, and that is revealed by the results of
the research. Most research on fear of crime seems to conceptualize fear in one of four ways.
Three of these definitions are cognitive in nature; they reflect people's concern about crime,
their assessments of personal risk of victimization, and the perceived threat of crime in their
environment. The remaining approach to defining fear is behavioral; some studies
conceptualize fear entirely in how it is reflected in things that people do in response to crime.
Dissecting these variations in how fear of crime is defined is important, because they make a
great deal of difference in what researchers have found. Different definitions of fear can lead to
different substantive research conclusions. This is particularly apparent in research on the
elderly, one of the special foci of the KFN's victimization research. A large body of research
suggests that for many older persons fear of crime, rather than actual victimization, presents
the biggest problem. It is often claimed the elderly living in American cities are over-
concentrated in bad neighborhoods and are concerned about conditions and crime in their
neighborhood. It is also claimed that the elderly feel hopelessly vulnerable to crime, which can
be evaluated using measures of self-diagnosed risk. Finally, it is claimed the elderly are
"prisoners of fear," traumatized by the thought of venturing out because of the risks they would
face. However, an inspection of the various meanings of fear indicates that this conclusion is
highly dependent upon what definition of fear is used. By many measures the elderly are not
more fearful at all. This chapter illustrates this, using surveys from the US, Britain, and the
Western area of the Federal Republic.
Fear of Crime Abstracts