There are some inherent and peculiar problems while formulating a crime policy based on crime perceptions rather than crime reality. The average American citizen has a very high concern for crime and this perception is based more on imagination rather than reality as is evident from the several opinion polls conducted by different organizations and agencies. The opinion poll responses clearly conclude that there is immense fear of crime amongst citizens, which is in clear contrast to the factual data of crime and criminal activities collected on a regular basis by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The fact is that, all the figures of criminal activities as compiled over the years by FBI on a regular basis, have in fact shown a continuous downward trend since the 1990s, and effectively crime has declined. The incidents of crimes figures per 100000 people for crimes such as rape, murder and housebreaking have been continuously showing a decline over the years. It is observed that crime and criminal incidents are inflated and exaggerated by the print media and television channels to exploit public vulnerability to such incidents, who are then literally forced to follow and view such stories.
The print media and TV channels have to find ways and means to extract financial gains and the best way is to create sensational stories that become not only a means of entertainment but also make the public aware of the occurrence of crime and its severity not only locally but internationally also. Under the circumstances, it is extremely difficult to formulate a crime policy based on perceptions of crime rather than its reality, primarily because it’s a delicate matter to deal with in view of public vulnerability in regard to their safety and security.
The safety of the citizens have to be ensured by the government but if such a policy is to be framed on the basis of only perception of crime, it will prove to be ineffective since the reality is a situation that is less severe. In this context the government should first find ways to counsel the public about the reality and severity of crime prevalent within a given area and then formulate a proactive and realistic policy that will eventually be more effective in curbing crime.