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Many police forces operate a policy of high visibility in disordered neighbourhoods with high crime. However, little is known about whether increased police presence influences people’s beliefs about a neighbourhood’s social environment or their fear of crime. Three experimental studies compared people’s perceptions of social capital and fear of crime in disordered and ordered neighbourhoods, either with a police presence or no police presence. In all studies, neighbourhood disorder lowered perceptions of social capital, resulting in a higher fear of crime. Police presence or absence had no significant effect. The pervasive effects of disorder above other environmental cues are discussed.
(a) Mean perceptions of social capital by neighbourhood order and police presence (b) Mean fear of crime by neighbourhoodorder and police presence
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