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Most people use second hand information as their core source of
information about crime, this source of information usually being the
media. When carrying out sample research in Birmingham, Susan Smith
(1984) discovered that 52% of people obtained most of their
information about crime from the media, 36% obtained it from hearsay
or alleged experiences of friends and neighbours, 3% from their own
experiences, and 1% from the police service themselves (cited in
Jones, 2001; 8). However the media tend to exaggerate upon areas of
criminal activity causing a moral panic.
‘A moral panic is a semi- spontaneous or media generated mass movement
based on the perception that some individual or group, frequently a
minority group or subculture, is dangerously deviant and poses menace
to society. These panics are generally fuelled by the media, although
not always caused by, media coverage of social issues… These panics
can sometimes lead to mob violence… (newsfilter.co.uk).