New poll results show the public is abandoning a stubborn belief that crime is on the rise, bringing public opinion into alignment with a 20-year trend of declining crime rates.Has this persistent disconnect really "confounded" criminologists? Perhaps criminologists also know that if the mainstream media didn't run blaring headlines every time a crime is committed against a white, middle-class Canadian, people wouldn't be so afraid.
The long-standing disconnect between public fears and reality has confounded criminologists and fuelled federal get-tough policies.
However, the Environics Focus Canada poll - obtained by The Globe and Mail and scheduled for release Thursday - shakes conventional wisdom even more by finding growing support for the use of crime prevention rather than punishment.
"This doesn't mean that people want to lay off criminals," said Keith Neuman, executive director of the Environics Institute. "But what people would like to see is more crime prevention. They feel that this is the right thing to do."
And what is really fuelling the federal crime policies? Citizens' fear, or prison profits?