The fear-increasing and fear-decreasing effects of a pilot policy to reduce fear of crime

José Miguel Benavente, Daniel Goya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fear of crime has been rising persistently in Chile, even in periods where actual crime rates have decreased, making the perception of crime an important policy issue. This paper presents the results of the impact evaluation of a pilot public policy designed to reduce fear of crime around a shopping centre in Santiago, Chile. The pilot policy consisted of installing a team including police officers and local government officials that handed out information leaflets and talked to passers-by about crime prevention. Pre-intervention and post-intervention surveys were conducted in the shopping centre where the programme was implemented and in a control shopping centre nearby to identify the causal effects of the policy using a difference-in-differences empirical strategy. The results indicate that the programme was effective in reducing fear of crime around the shopping centre, especially at night among its workers, and that it reduced actual crime. However, a deeper analysis suggests that the programme might have actually increased fear of crime among the individuals who directly interacted with the programme. The reduction in crime might have indirectly resulted in an overall reduction in fear among workers, who are likely to be up to date on criminal occurrences in the area, explaining how an increase in fear in those directly contacted is consistent with an overall reduction in fear across workers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0282461
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3 March
StatePublished - Mar 2023


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