§ Mr. Burstow
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research his Department has commissioned into fear of crime among older people; how actual crime levels compare to perceptions of crime; and what measures his Department is taking to tackle(a) the perception and (b) the reality. 
§ Mr. Denham
[holding answer 4 February 2002]The Home Office is in the process of carrying out a research study on how crime and fear of crime affects older people. The findings of this study will be published in due course and will cover prevalence of crime against older people, the reporting of such crime to the police, and repeat victimisation. It will also examine how fear of crime 977W among older people is affected by the area in which they live, by past experiences and by other characteristics and their perceptions of the police and criminal justice system.
The Home Office Public Service Agreement (PSA) fear of crime target relates specifically to fear of violent crime, burglary and vehicle crime—the categories of crime which are of most concern to the public as measured by the British Crime Survey (BCS). The BCS shows that perceptions of crime do not necessarily follow actual trends in crime. This is particularly the case for older people where the percentage of people who feel it is very or fairly likely that they will be a victim of crime within the next year is significantly higher than the number who actually do become victims.
A communication strategy is being developed to address this misperception, with key themes identified by research and targeted at geographical areas where fear of crime is greatest and groups of people who fear crime the most.
The assurance agenda within the police reform programme can also be expected to increase feelings of public safety while the Home Office's Reducing Burglary Initiative includes a number of programmes which will target burglary against the elderly in particular.