Sanson, Charlotte (2014) How does proximity to crime influence people's perception of safety? Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.
Abstract

Individuals may put themselves at risk of criminal victimisation through a misguided sense of safety born from the optimistic notion that crime happens “elsewhere”. Despite the analogous
nature of fear and perceived safety, the latter has received far less research attention within the criminological literature. As perceptions of safety are guided by cognitive appraisals of the threat a danger poses, the present study aimed to investigate whether crimes that occur in nearby locations affect perceptions of safety more so than those that occur further away, due to the proximity of the danger or threat thereof.
Respondents were given a number of fictitious scenarios within which a crime was presented as having occurred at one of four locations, ranging in distance from the respondents’ hometown (i.e. the independent variable). The respondents rated each scenario in terms of its seriousness, how safe they would perceive themselves to be following the news of the crimes and how likely they would be to engage in precautionary measures following the crimes (i.e. the dependent variables). The relationship between crime seriousness, perceived safety and a numberof prominent sociodemographic factors that have emerged from the fear of crime literature were also examined.
Proximate crimes were found to produce lower perceptions of safety; higher crime
seriousness ratings; and greater likelihood of engaging in reactive behaviours than distant crimes, as hypothesised. It was found that young people, females and those who get most of their crime information from local news sources tended to report lower safety perceptions, although several findings were inconsistent with previous research. Possible explanations and implications of the findings are discussed and an argument is made for the importance of increasing individuals’
knowledge and awareness of victimisation risks, rather than attempting to reduce fear of crime as
has been a major research focus to date.

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