In spite of the fact that levels of crime in the UK are still falling and have done for the last ten years the government television adverts encouraging people to go out and vote for the new crime commissioners cynically highlight violent crimes as if they were a feature of everyday life for us all and that the only answer is to put party politicians in charge of policing.
At their recent party conference, the Conservatives trumpeted their intentions to change the law around self-defence for householders, suggesting that it was so common that householders had to defend themselves that changing the law was an imperative - again feeding on the fear of crime; home invasions and violence. That their proposed changes would only replace once legal term few people understand with another legal term few people will understand and that it will not offer the public any more protection - exposes their intentions of getting us all scared and painting themselves as our saviours.
This is destructive and cynical for many reasons. The fear of crime blights society more than actual crime - many older people say they are too scared to go out in public places after dark - people walk around scared of groups of young people when in the vast majority of cases the young people mean no harm. Many people already fear being mugged or having our homes invaded by violent criminals when the vast majority of us won't be victims of these crimes.
Putting images of violent crimes into people's homes to try to get them interested in the police commissioners elections will only increase that fear. Raising the image of home owners under siege and boasting that their proposed changes will help us increases the fear of crime. And we know why they are doing this - so people will save them from the embarrassment of a low turnout in the November police commissioner elections and in the hope that more people will support the Conservatives at the next election.
People lives are blighted by the fear of crime - survey after survey - both local ones (in my experience) and national ones - shows older people will stay at home after dark and do not go out and enjoy what their local communities have to offer because of the fear of crime and it is wrong and cynical to use that fear - not to make people actually safer but to gain political advantage.
People do fall victim to crime and they should be supported and the crimes investigated in a robust way but most of us - most of the time - are not victims of crime. People should take sensible precautions with their property and their own safety but stoking of the fear of crime does harm and effects people's lives and it is wrong.
Let's hope the government don't become much more worried about a low turnout at the commissioner elections otherwise we can look forward to even more disturbing images of the violence and mayhem that will occur if we do not vote party politicians into these posts.