Fear of Crime in the Built Environment: A Pedagogic Approach to Social Sustainability

By Robert Gant and Bridget Towers.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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.

Keywords: Social Sustainability, Fear of Crime, Fieldwork Practice and Logistics, Partnership Working, Pedagogic Practice

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.159-174. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.071MB).

Dr. Robert Gant

Senior Research Associate, School of Geography, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, UK

I graduated from University of Wales with BA (Hons) degree in Geography (1964) and PhD in Social Geography (1971) and was appointed to a lectureship at Kingston University in 1968 with teaching responsibilities in Social Geography, Urban Geography, Medical Geography and Rural Development. My field teaching experience has been in South Africa, Tunisia, and various parts of Western Europe. Elected as Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1992. I retired as Deputy Head of the School of Earth Sciences and Geography in 2003 and was appointed to a part-time post in 2003 with teaching commitments in aspects of criminology, social survey design and crime pattern interpretation. My research continues in fields of: crime environments; rural demographic change in the UK; and spatial mobility of disabled people.

Dr. Bridget Towers

School of Social Sciences, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, UK

I am Director of Studies, Department of Criminology and Sociology, at Kingston University. I graduated from the University of Warwick with a BA (Hons) degree in History (1968) and proceeded to the University of California, Berkeley, on a Regent’s Fellowship in 1969.In 1972 I was awarded a Doctorate in Criminology. My research career started with the Presidential Commission on Obscenity and Pornography (1971). Subsequently, I was employed as an operations researcher by the Greater London Council Intelligence Unit and worked on a range of projects in public housing. In 1975 I was appointed Lecturer in Social; Policy and Criminology at Kingston University, where I have designed, developed and managed a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Social Work, Health Services Management and Applied Criminology. In 1987 I completed a two year research sabbatical on tuberculosis prevention programmes and was awarded a PhD from the University of London (Birkbeck College). This led to collaboration (and academic publications) with interdisciplinary teams from nursing and health economics. My research continues in multi-agency partnership work in public health, including crime reduction partnerships and child protection.

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