The Police Reaction

Neighbourhood Watch was started as a way to reduce crime and fear by involving citizens in crime prevention, urging them to come together to talk about what is going on in their neighbourhood, and to formulate plans and methods to alleviate crime such as neighbourhood surveillance and crime- reporting activities. This allows residents some control over what goes on in their area and a say in solving problems that may be occurring. The residents know what makes them feel safe, and what will reduce their fear. This program is capable of reducing fear but not crime (Brantingham & Brantingham, 1990), and when people have the opportunity to join the program, the majority choose not to do so (Rosenbaum, 1987).

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is another program implemented by police services to alleviate fear of crime and reduce crime levels. The intention of CPTED is to alter the physical environment to deter offenders from committing crimes, making these places safer for people to go, and reducing fear of crime. Examples of this include improving lighting in dark alleyways and streets, and building homes to overlook pathways susceptible to loitering and crime. Nair et al. (1993) examined the effectiveness of improving the environment in order to reduce fear, and found that fear can be decreased, but this may not happen in every circumstance.

Foot patrol is a method of policing aimed to reduce crime and fear of crime. Foot patrol puts officers in the community to interact with the residents. By having the officers walking their beats, making themselves seen, and getting to know the people of the area, it is assumed people will not commit crimes knowing the officers are roaming about. Recognizing the fact that officers are around if needed leaves people less fearful. Foot patrol officers are part of the community: they attend meetings, identify community problems and come up with long term solutions, organize citizen initiatives, make referrals to appropriate social service agencies, and engage residents in crime prevention (Rosenbaum & Lurigio, 1994; Dent & Hackler, 1992).

The Edmonton Police Service found that fear was lower in those areas patrolled by foot patrol than those areas patrolled by motor patrol (Hornick, et al., 1989). In Newark, New Jersey, and in the Hewark-Houstan project, the number of foot patrol officers was increased, resulting in a significant reduction in levels of fear by the residents (Rosenbaum & Lurigio, 1994). Flint, Michigan also found reduced levels of fear, with 70% of those surveyed saying that they felt safer than they did before the foot patrol program was implemented (Bennett, 1991, p. 2). Foot patrol programs have been used in thousands of cities and towns across North America, and these programs have been found to have a lessening impact on fear levels.