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Feelings of Security in the City: Anxiety Over Crime as Spatially Defined

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: 2004 Pages: 73-85
R. I. Mawby; L. Simmonds
Date Published
13 pages
This report provides an exploratory study of crime and perceptions of crime in a clearly demarcated area of the city, comparing the city center with an individual’s own area of residence.
While the extent of crime in city centers has long been identified, fear of or anxiety over crime is usually considered in terms of respondents’ areas of residence. Commissioned by the Plymouth Community Safety Partnership on behalf of Plymouth City Council, the objective of this study was to establish how far local people were deterred from using the city center and to identify areas of particular concern, as well as generate ideas about how things might be improved. There were three main strands to the research: (1) police data on crimes in the area, recorded from 1998 to 2000; (2) in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with a small group of key players in the city center; and (3) interviews were conducted with people using the city center in the daytime. The research demonstrated clearly that people considered the city center to be less safe than the area in which they lived. From this research there were two implications suggested: (1) approximations of the crime problem or anxieties about crime that are based on residential crime may be misleading and (2) community safety and crime prevention initiatives that focus on residential areas may be ignoring a major part of the crime problem. Policy recommendations are presented.