Fear of crime in the built environment: a pedagogic approach to social sustainability

Gant, Robert and Towers, Bridget (2011) Fear of crime in the built environment: a pedagogic approach to social sustainability. The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability,, 7(4), pp. 159-174. ISSN (print) 1832-2077


Indicators of social sustainability for urban environments normally include quantitative measure of crime and personal safety. Each year since 2006, first-year criminology students at Kingston University have conducted “fear of crime” surveys of visitors in the town centre (c.850 per survey) and university students studying on the four campuses (c.1350). Findings from these cross-disciplinary exercises have been shared with the borough’s Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership and communicated to the Audit Commission and Government Office for London; they have also informed several local police and youth-agency initiatives to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in areas of the built environment. This paper reviews the aims and learning outcomes set for the exercises; examines fieldwork practices and logistics for(annual)groups averaging 240 students; sets out the headline results and identifies trends in personal concern and victimisation; analyses student feedback; and discusses partnership working between the university and local authority. Benefits for participants are identified. These focus on personal development through engagment in partnership working towards the goal of social sustainability; for a minority this extends to work placements with borough agencies and departments.

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