The fear of plastic card fraud
The fear of crime is one of the most widely researched phenomena in criminology. Traditionally, researchers have relied upon the 'sociological staples' of sex, race, age and social class to explain the fear of crime. However, it has been shown that the relationships between fear and these factors are both uncertain and unreliable. In this thesis, I suggest by analysing the fear of crime within an explanatory framework of well-being, we move towards a better understanding of fear at an individual level. I demonstrate that, by interpreting crime as a violation of autonomy and well-being, individual levels of fear are more easily understood. The thesis is driven by a critical analysis of the traditional approaches to the study of fear of crime. From a contextual perspective, I argue that, in order to understand fear in a modem, evolving society, one must look to the future and explore the changing nature of crime. Thus, I aim to force a reconsideration of the concept of 'crime' within the paradigm of the victimisation survey. In recognising the imminent increase in fraudulent crimes, I challenge the traditional exclusion of fraud from victimisation surveys. I demonstrate that the victims of plastic card fraud are worthy subjects for study. The thesis is informed by empirical work carried out during the period of doctoral research. Having been commissioned by the Research Development and Statistics Directorate of the Home Office to review the survey measurement of the fear of crime, I was given the opportunity to design questions about plastic card fraud for the British Crime Survey 2000. Analysis of the data suggests that plastic card fraud prompts different reactions than do other crimes. I conclude that the harm suffered by the victims of card fraud may extend beyond pure financial loss to a violation of identity.