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Poor and unemployed suffer most from violent crime

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Published date:  18 Apr 2006

Poor and unemployed people are not only twice as likely to become victims of violent crime but are nearly three times as likely to report depression, anxiety, panic and difficulty sleeping after being attacked, according to new research, published today (Tues), by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr).

Poor and unemployed people are not only twice as likely to become victims of violent crime but are nearly three times as likely to report depression, anxiety, panic and difficulty sleeping after being attacked, according to new research, published today (Tues), by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr).

ippr’s report recommends that police resources should be more heavily targeted on the most disadvantaged communities, on reducing the crimes which most seriously affect people’s lives, such as domestic violence and repeat victimisation, rather than on reducing the total volume of crime.

The report shows:

  • People living in the poorest households are nearly three times as likely to report a range of emotional effects following victimisation, including depression, anxiety, panic and difficulty sleeping and to change their behaviour by avoiding certain places.
  • People living in households with an income of less than £10,000 a year are more than four times as likely to be feel ‘very unsafe’ walking alone after dark as those living in households with an income of more than £30,000 a year.
  • People living in the most deprived neighbourhoods are more than twice as likely to be mugged and more than twice as likely to be ‘very worried’ about being physically attacked as those people living in the least deprived neighbourhoods.

Nick Pearce, ippr director, said:

“Crime is a social justice issue. People living in poorer households have less choice about where they live, cannot afford to pay for expensive alarm systems or take taxis home in the evening. They are less able to control the risks they face and often have no option but to expose themselves to greater danger.

“Repeat victimisation is particularly worrying because a series of incidents can have a much larger impact than would be predicted by just adding together the effects of several isolated experiences. Domestic violence is the most harmful crime of all.”

ippr analysis suggests that while no more than a half of crimes are recorded by the police, victims who are poor or otherwise excluded are less likely than rich victims to come to the attention of the police or victim support agencies. Nineteen per cent of victims in households with incomes of less than £5,000 said they wanted support but did not receive it, compared to 13 per cent of households with incomes of more than £30,000. The report also identifies “support gap”, with less than one per cent of the Criminal Justice System budget goes towards helping victims, leaving 53 per cent of victims who say they wanted support without any.

The report says that exposure to violence or trauma before the age of five can alter the developing brain and that pre-school children who are exposed to domestic violence suffer similar impacts as those who have been physically abused. It says they are at significantly higher risk of developing emotional, behavioural speech and language problems, are more likely to show aggressive and antisocial behaviour, suffer from lower self esteem and tend to do less well at school.

CrimeShare: the unequal impact of crime by Mike Dixon, Howard Reed, Ben Rogers and Lucy Stone is available from www.ippr.org/publicationsandreports

Notes to Editors

The report shows almost a third of victims of assault experienced more than one similar incident in the same year and that victims of violent crime took a total of 83 million days off work to recover from physical and psychological injuries, at a cost of more than £4.2 billion to the economy and £2.4 billion to the NHS.

Victims of violent crime were 2.6 times as likely as non-victims to suffer from depression and 1.8 times as likely to exhibit hostile behaviour five years after the original offence. As a direct result of their experience, one in 50 victims of wounding changed jobs.

New ippr analysis shows that over all, almost half a million victims of crime said they started to avoid certain places, were less able to use public transport, or take on paid or volunteering work if it involved coming home after dark. Thirty two thousand victims change jobs and 850,000 suffered lose of earnings.

Three out of five victims reported making lifestyle changes as a result of their experience and almost one in four said they had started drinking, smoking or using drugs more often.

Almost a quarter said their relationship with their friends and family had been affected, 16 per cent reported increased strain on their relationship with a partner, one in ten reported sexual problems, just under one in ten said it ended their relationship, a quarter reported that it had affected their relations with friends and family and almost a third said it had affected their working life.

Contacts

Richard Darlington, ippr media manager, 020 7470 6177 / 07738 320 645 / r.darlington@ippr.org

Matt Jackson, ippr senior media officer, 020 7339 0007 / 07753 719 289 / m.jackson@ippr.org