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24 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (1985)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj24 and id is 1 raw text is: 











The Howard journal Vol 24 No 1. Feb 85
0265-5527 $2.50/E2.00



       Elderly Victims of Crime and

                    Exposure to Risk



 RONALD CLARKE, PAUL EKBLOM, MIKE HOUGH and
                            PAT   MAYHEW
         Ronald  Clarke (formerly head of the Home Office Research and
       Planning Unit) is Professor of Criminal justice, Temple University,
                                Philadelphia
        Paul Ekblom  is Senior Research Officer and Mike Hough and Pat
           Mayhew  are Principal Research Officers at the Home Office
                         Research and Planning Unit

Abstract: It has been debated for some time whether lower rates of personal victimisation among
the elderly are due to the fact that - because offear or other reasons - they shield themselves from
situations in which they might be victimised. This 'differential exposure' explanation is
examined using data from the 1982 British Crime Survey which provides risks for different age!
sex groups and detailed information about respondents' 'lifestyles'. Looking at evening 'street'
offences, differences in risks between the age groups change very little when account is taken of
different patterns of going out: irrespective of frequency, means of travel, destination and
activity, the elderly are still less frequently victimised. Some theoretical and practical
implications of the findings are discussed.

It has  been shown   in numerous  victimisation surveys  (see for example,
Hough and Mayhew 1983; Ministry of the Solicitor General 1983; van
Dijk  and Steinmetz  1983; Smith  1983; U.S.  Department  of Justice 1984)
that  the elderly are less at risk of most crimes than others are. In the first
report  on the  1982 British Crime  Survey  (B.C.S.), for example, Hough
and   Mayhew (1983) showed that older people (aged 61 or over) were
much   less likely to be the victims of 'street crime' than the 'middle-aged'
(31-60)  or the 'young' (16-30); rates of victimisation for the young were
nearly  six times greater than those for older people.
   Despite  being much   less at risk, the elderly are more fearful of crime
 than  others are (see for example,   Maxfield  1984)  and  it is not clear
 whether  this is because   they misperceive   their risks or because  the
 consequences  of victimisation may  generally be  more severe for them  -
 they may  be more  likely to be injured, upset or seriously inconvenienced
 by crime than younger  people. What  is known, however, is that the elderly
 go out  much  less often and  are more  likely to give fear of attack as a
 reason. This  leaves open   the disquieting possibility (cf. Balkin 1979;
 Lindquist and  Duke  1982; Stafford and Galle 1984) that if the elderly were
 to go out  as much   as younger  people  they would  indeed  be the  most
 frequently victimised age  group. This  hypothesis - which  underlies the

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