This paper presents a new definition of fear of crime that integrates two conceptual developments in this enduring field of criminological enquiry. Our measurement strategy differentiates first between specific worries and diffuse anxieties in emotional responses to crime, and second between productive and counterproductive effects on subjective well-being and precautionary activities. Drawing on data from a representative survey of seven London neighbourhoods, these distinctions are combined into an ordinal scale that moves from the ‘unworried’, to low-level motivating emotions, to frequent and dysfunctional worry about crime. We demonstrate that different categories of ‘fear’ have different correlates and explain different levels of variation in public confidence in policing. We conclude with a call for more longitudinal research to uncover the dynamic nature of fear of crime over the life course
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