Dag van de Sociologie edition:14 location:Antwerpen date:28 May 2014
It is routinely assumed that the presence of ethnic minorities in a local community contributes to a feeling of unsafety among the majority population. This could be explained by a direct relation between ethnic diversity and some forms of crime, but it can also be expected that stereotypes toward specific groups of the population contribute to this relation. In this article it is assessed whether fear of crime is positively related to anti-immigrant sentiments, and to what extent they are associated with the real and perceived presence of ethnic minority groups and the occurrence of criminal acts. The analysis is based on the combination of official police records and survey data for local municipalities in Belgium. The results show there is no significant relation between reported crime and fear of crime. Both actual and perceived levels of ethnic diversity, however, were strongly and significantly related to fear of crime. The findings suggest that applications of the threat theory should not only focus on economic and cultural threat, but also on the perceived impact of diversity on crime and safety.