From FiveThirtyEight: Many Americans Are Convinced Crime Is Rising In The U.S. They’re Wrong. Violent crime and property crime have been declining for 30 years, but people tend to think they’re increasing. I’d guess that the emergence of news as round-the-clock consumer item has a lot to do with this. A few notes:
As the article says, the “crime rate” is national, but local crime rates can vary wildly. People are much better at guessing the crime rate in their own area. Interesting: ‘“All the homicides in Chicago occur in about 8 percent of the city’s census tracts,” Skogan said. For almost everybody, he said, that means “the crime you hear about is crime somewhere else.”’
People’s perception of public safety is often influenced by litter, vandalism, shabby properties, loud music etc. – things that aren’t actually crimes that endanger people directly.
There’s been a spike in violent crime in cities this year. Even long-term trends can reverse, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Prejudice plays a part in perceptions: “people perceive their neighborhood as more dangerous — regardless of the actual crime rate — if more young Black men live there. That was true for both Black and white respondents of the surveys, but in some cities the effect was significantly more pronounced in white people.” (I noted the controversial difference in capitalization of “Black” and “white”).
Crime statistics are always iffy.