Thursday, January 7, 2016

Community Safety "Including women's fear of crime in our community safety problem" Town Planning Urban Planning Plan It Safe: Community safety and women's fear of crime www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au June 3rd 1999 Vigilantism Cyberbullying Covert Bullying Rumour Spread Female Aggression & Australian Institute of Criminology 2003 & Let there be LIGHT! Comment by Pete Dowe




Cyberbullying Covert Bullying Rumour Spread Hyper-Vigilantism is Panic-Merchant 

Fear-Mongering which increases #fearofcrime 

and increases actual crime in relation to the serious crime of #cyberbullying


Pete Dowe




"Rule of law, equal application of the law, due process, respect of one person for another are necessary for a peaceful productive society"

Malcolm Fraser





I argue we cannot have respect of one person for another WITHOUT Rule of law,
 gender-equal application of the law, due process


Pete Dowe




Including women's fear of crime in our community safety problem


Work with existing women's services
Sexual assault services, domestic violence services, women's resource centres and women's community health services all work with women who have experienced violence. They have extensive knowledge about working with women to improve women's safety. They are very important community safety partners.

Community safety activities may allocate resources to these services.

Conduct local research
Ask women to identify safe and unsafe public places. Conduct regular safety audits of the places which they identify.

This will help to gather community knowledge of violence and crime.

Develop a public response to crimes of sexual harassment and sexual assault
We can take actions within a safety partnership which may help to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment and assault in public places. Before we can do this, however, we need to be able to discuss it in our safety forum.

Community safety and women's fear of crime

www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au 

June 3rd 1999

http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/swp/swp.nsf/pages/swp_2



Jill Meagher's rape and murder was an horrific tragedy. I recoil from thought of what her last hours/ minutes of life must have been like. The Parole Board of Victoria failed Jill and Tom Meagher miserably, and indeed the whole of Victoria. Jill Meagher's tragedy must not however be used to justify vigilantism. cyberbullying nor covert bullying.

I argue the authorities need to clarify the meaning of

“If you see something say something” as it has inadvertently “legitimised” vigilantism, the spreading of lies and rumours, covert bullying and cyber bullying.

There is a hyper-vigilant community with vigilantism and what seems to be a perverse notion of “progressive community minded” vigilantism.

“If you see something say something”

See what? Someone you don’t like the look of?

A mis-interpretation of law-abiding behaviour?

Say something to who? Facebook? Other Social Media? Everyone you know and run into?
Many people cannot tell the difference between a photo put on social media by Victoria Police and a photo put online by a cyberbullying vigilante.

Say something to the authorities if you are genuinely concerned.

And leave it at that.

Complainants must be genuine and alerting the authorities of their concerns,

 not vigilantes spreading lies and rumours.

The authorities need to clarify “If you see something say something”

and emphasise that there is no role for vigilantes to play!


Pete Dowe  


"We will not walk in fear of one another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine"


Ed Murrow

Let there be LIGHT!

Comment by Pete Dowe

Fear of Crime. 

This is a curly issue to raise, and although I write about high-fear, I must stress from the outset that VICTIMS DO NOT MAKE PERPETRATORS PERPETRATE, VICTIMS DO NOT ASK FOR IT, and WOMEN HAVE THE RIGHT TO WALK ANYWHERE ANYTIME. I seek here to put perspective on Fear of Crime. The Australian Institute of Criminology defines women as a high-fear of crime group. 

“A point of some importance is that “high-fear” groups are not especially characterised by age. Rather differences, hold within age groups. Thus, for instance, while it is well established that women are more fearful of crime than men (or at least admit to it more), younger women are more fearful than younger men, as well as older women being more fearful than older men.”

“Apart from the gender difference, other main findings are:

“people who live in high-crime areas are more likely than those who live in areas with lower levels of crime to be fearful”

“local disorder (such as noisy neighbours, poor street-lighting, and teenagers hanging around) is predictive of virtually all measures of fear”

“personal experience of being victimised, and greater contact with other victims, heightens fear”

The Australian Institute of Criminology also says that fear for “safety on the streets after dark” is a general, non-specific fear.  "The “safety on the streets after dark” question is a very common one in crime surveys, and indeed is sometimes the only one asked. The much higher levels of anxiety among older people in response to this question may well explain why the notion of excessive fear among older people has taken such hold."

"The reason why older people are more fearful about their safety on the streets alone at night is not entirely clear. Note that the question does not mention crime, and it could be that the prospect of being out alone on dark public streets may evoke anxiety about a greater range of mishaps (for example, falling over), especially as the emotional, physical and financial consequences could be worse for older people" (James & Graycar 2000).


"The question is also hypothetical for those who rarely go out alone after dark, which will be the case for many older people. It might also be that “street-crime” affecting older people is particularly overdramatised in the media—and many older people may form their perception of crime through this."


Australian Institute of Criminology
2003


“Jill's (Meagher's) death tapped into all women's collective fears of the stranger and the dark alley,” 

says RMIT's Dr Anastasia Powell, a PHD in criminology and expert in hate-crimes against women.
But despite being a primal fear, it hardly ever happens. 

According to Dr Powell's research for VicHealth the most common form of death for Victorian women AGEDhttps://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2Fcdncache-a.akamaihd.net%2Fitems%2Fit%2Fimg%2Farrow-10x10.png&container=blogger&gadget=a&rewriteMime=image%2F* 15-44 is "intimate partner violence". 


Not cars, not smoking, but being killed by a man they know.


http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/a-crime-that-shook-our-city-20130611-2o1yj.html



Therefore organisations which promote women walking at night are promoting a high-fear-of-crime group to put itself in a high-fear-of-crime situation. Fine, they have every right to do so. But in this hyper-vigilant, high-fear era, we need to be clear on where the fear is coming from. And re vigilantism, we cannot scapegoat others for our pre-existing fear.




Pete Dowe

Fear of Crime Ch. 4

A Safe and Secure Environment for Older Australians

Marianne James, Adam Graycar and Pat Mayhew

Australian Institute of Criminology Research and Public Policy Series No. 51 2003

http://aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/rpp/51/rpp051.pdf



Plan It Safe: Community safety and women's fear of crime



Introduction
_________________________________________________________




Making public places safer for women means changing the urban and social environment to reduce fear of crime and actual levels of crime.

Community safety activities help us do this. Community safety invites the community to participate in making the urban environment safer. For example, local councils could install lights, police could increase foot patrols, residents could report vandalism etc.

Fear of crime is an important aspect of safety which needs to be addressed in community safety activities. Yet the specific nature of women's fear of crime in some public places has seldom been identified or acknowledged.
Plan It Safe Logo


It is important to specifically address women's fear of crime in our understanding of community safety. We need to know about and understand women's fear of crime, when and where it occurs and what causes it. Targeted strategies can then be developed to reduce women's fear of crime.

If we change public places so women feel safer, then we will make these places safer for everyone.


What is community safety?
_________________________________________________________


Community safety activities are locally driven strategies which aim to improve safety of an area and reduce crime.

Community safety recognises that all sectors of the community have a role in creating safer public places. Police retain their important role of addressing and responding to crime. However, they also work in partnership with local councils, transport authorities, residents, government and non-government agencies, and businesses.

Community safety activities explore the associations between crime, safety and the urban environment. By working in partnerships, a community identifies how changes to the urban environment may reduce crime and improve safety. Each partner contributes to the safety strategy.

It is important to remember that the urban environment includes everything that makes up your local community. It includes public and private places, people that live and work in an area, the services and facilities available and the way the area is governed and managed. Making changes to the urban environment includes social and community developments as well as physical changes.
Community safety includes management, educational, welfare and urban planning tools. It is based on four broad principles.
      • Your local community will be safer if crime is prevented or reduced.
      • Some environmental factors in public places can make crimes easier to commit and get away with.
      • Changing these factors can help to deter criminals and reduce the incidence of crime.
      • Strategies to create safer communities work best if they also include community development programs.

CASE STUDY - LEICHARDT





Caring about safer public places
The Leichhardt Municipality does not have a crime problem, but that doesn't mean the council isn't interested in making its public places safer.

As part of its Main Streets Program the council is encouraging zonings which get people to use the streets - such as al fresco dining.
In its current upgrading of Glebe Point Road, the council asked the local police to assess the suitability of existing trees. It is now replacing the large, old poplars which line the streets with native trees which have narrow trunks (so people can't hide behind them) and foliage above street lighting levels.

‘We try in everything we do, whether its upgrading a park or re-designing a street, to take safety considerations into account,' said the Mayor, Kris Cruden. 'We are incorporating as much lighting as we can and being careful with the trees we plant so we don't create hiding places or interfere with sight-lines.'

To encourage civic pride, the council has also re-introduced an early morning street-sweeping service in and around main streets and restaurant strips. 'I think if people know an area is cared for they feel safer,' she said.

Leichhardt is currently experiencing a boom in the re-development of old residential sites into new townhouse and apartment complexes. The council requires that these developments use lighting and landscaping techniques which maximise safety.
‘What we are trying to do is encourage a community atmosphere. In the old days things happened on the streets. We are trying to bring that back with coffee shops and outdoor restaurants. Even though my daughter tells me the last thing Australia needs is another coffee shop when I look down Norton Street and Glebe Point Road (which are full of them) I don't see streets where people are afraid to be out at night.'




Approaches to community safety
Two broad approaches to community safety have been developed. Ideally, a comprehensive safety strategy will contain elements of both approaches.

1. Situational crime prevention - aims to reduce crime by reducing the opportunities for it to be committed. It is often called Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). CPTED promotes the design of safe and user-friendly public places.

CPTED has developed over the last 25 years. It is based on the idea that some crimes are committed because a situation (or environment) provides the opportunity for the crime to be committed and for it to go undetected.

CPTED seeks to remove the opportunities for crime by changing the design or other aspects of the urban environment. For example, it is more difficult to steal a car from a street which is well-lit, and watched over than it is to steal one from an isolated, dark carpark.

Senior Sergeant P. McCamley of the NSW Police Service describes CPTED as: 'the process of creating within our suburbs, business and other community districts, physical characteristics that suggest to both residents and potential offenders that areas are owned, cared for and not amenable to criminal activity.' [1]

He believes that if the design of the space gives a clear message that someone owns, uses and cares for it, then it is unlikely that it will become the scene of a crime, and that if a crime does occur then there is every chance that the criminal will be caught.

He says territoriality (or ownership), control of access, natural observation (can the space be seen clearly by others) and the frequent use of space, are important to crime prevention and community safety.

The Leichhardt case study is an example of how CPTED principles can be used to help make people feel safer when they use public places.

Changing the urban environment will not necessarily change the behaviour of criminals. It can however, make it more difficult for them to commit crime.

2. Developmental and community-based crime prevention - aims to change the social, economic and demographic conditions which are associated with causing crime.

Strategies may include:
      • community education about violence and appropriate responses to it;
      • anti-violence campaigns in schools;
      • projects which create stronger community bonds - such as Adopt-a-Park where members of the local community work together to care for a park;
      • putting people back into 'dangerous' areas - for example, employing station masters and bus conductors, supervisors for car parks etc;
      • providing or improving community facilities - for example, recreational activities for young people. [2]

Fear of crime as a factor in community safety
_________________________________________________________







What is fear?
Fear is a complicated emotion. We feel fear for many different reasons and in many different ways.
Fear is more than an automatic response to danger. When we fear something, it is often the result of complicated interactions between us, our physical and social environment and our cultural background. It includes our bodies, our mobility, our memories, our experiences, our age, our gender, the stories we have been told about ourselves, the stories we tell ourselves, our beliefs and understandings.




What is fear of crime?
Fear of crime is complex. It may include perceptions of risk, fear of being a victim of crime, concern about crime as a public policy issue and perhaps even anxiety about life in general. [3]

Paul Grabosky from the Australian Institute of Criminolgy said: 'While the fear of crime expressed by some citizens is well-founded, other individuals are at less personal risk than they might believe. Their fear, however, is no less real.' [4]

Fear of crime is not the same as actual risk of becoming a victim of crime.

Fear of crime and community safety
    Fear of crime has become an important issue of public concern: a problem which detracts from the quality of life, and which adversely affects social and economic well-being. [5]
    P. Grabosky, 1995, Australian Institute of Criminology

Community safety initiatives are beginning to acknowledge that fear of crime can impact on people's lives as much as actual crime. For example, South Sydney Council has developed a Safe Design draft policy 1997 which states:
    Fear alone can trap people at home, limiting their participation in a full range of activities available in the community. [6]

Brisbane City Council has prepared a Community Safety Program Summary document, which acknowledges fear of crime as a part of their safety agenda. Their proposal states:
    Perceptions of safety and the fear of crime have just as much effect on the cities livability as crime itself. [7]

How can fear of crime be addressed in community safety?
Fear of crime can be reduced by crime prevention. As public places become known as being safer, the community may feel less fear.
Fear of crime may also be reduced when the community can see something is being done to protect them. Knowing that something is being done helps people to feel safer.

The Mary's Place case study (above) is an example of a co-ordinated public response to violence and fear. Actions such as these can help communities to heal from violence and crime, and this can help to reduce fear.

Fear of crime can also be addressed by public policy. As Paul Grabosky said:

‘Governments may not be able to eliminate crime completely, but they can contribute to its reduction. They can take steps to reduce public perceptions of insecurity.' [9]

Acknowledging women's fear
Community safety activities can reduce fear of crime. But we need to recognise that not everyone feels the same fear.
The Safe Women Project has found that even councils which are interested in community safety have often not specifically addressed the concerns of women.

So while many of the strategies did make public places safer they did not necessarily make women feel safer.

The Safe Women Project also noticed that sexual harassment and sexual assault were rarely discussed in community safety forums.
To develop strategies which effectively address fear of crime, we need to acknowledge that different groups experience different types of fear. For example, the Brisbane City Council's Community Safety Program Summary document states:

A livable city is a safe city where families and individuals, particularly women and the elderly, feel secure and protected from crime.10
CASE STUDY - MARY'S PLACE




Reclaiming a public place


In January 1995, a lesbian named Mary was violently raped and assaulted in Flood's Lane, Darlinghurst.

In response to this crime, local residents, businesses, South Sydney Council and community artists came together to form the Mary's Place Project. Mary's Place is Sydney's first space dedicated to eliminating hate-related violence.

Floods Lane has been renamed Mary's Place and it has been landscaped and painted with vibrant street art. The project has used principles of environmental design for violence prevention including putting in creative lighting, reconstructing fences and putting in mirrors to overcome blind spots.

The Mary's Place Project has been very important for many reasons. It has helped to raise community awareness about anti-lesbian and homophobic violence. It has also helped to encourage a whole-of-community commitment to and involvement in, reducing this violence and improving safety.

It also helps the community to reclaim the place and this may help with healing. [8]




Exploring women's fear of crime in public places
_________________________________________________________


Women's fear of crime
Many women report feeling afraid of crime in public places. They report that their greatest fear is crimes against their person - physical assault, sexual harassment and sexual assault. Women also fear robbery.

For the women who spoke to the Safe Women Project, fear of crime was greatest in situations where women felt they would be powerless to do anything about an attack.

It is also important to remember that while there may be similarities in women's fear of crime, there may also be some differences. Not all women are the same and they will not experience the same fear. Nor will they necessarily experience fear in the same way as one another.

Women's fear of crime is different to men's.

In what ways is women's fear of crime different to men's?
Research suggests that men tend to be less fearful than women.

If men do experience fear, it is often for different reasons. For example, women who responded to the Liverpool phone-in were most afraid of physical assault, whereas an Urban Victimisation Survey conducted in Canada found that men are most afraid of robbery. [11]

In a recent study conducted across six NSW local government areas [12], it was reported that men and women had similar perceptions of the general safety of their suburb and whether their suburb had become less safe in the last ten years. However, when asked if they would walk outside alone at night, or let someone into their home to use the phone, women were far more likely to say no.

This is consistent with the findings of other studies conducted in the last 15 years. For example, a Queensland Crime Victims Survey (1991), a Fear of Crime study conducted in Fairfield NSW (1991), the Canadian Urban Victimisation Survey (1982) and the Box Hill Victoria Safer Community Project (1993) all found that women were far more likely to experience fear while walking around alone at night than were men.

The Queensland Crime Victims Survey 1991 also reported:
      • Eleven percent of females reported feeling unsafe when alone at home at night, compared to two percent of males.
      • Men were more likely to report feeling very safe than women. [13]

The Fairfield NSW study found that:
      • Significantly more women than men felt unsafe walking through or being alone in local parks and playgrounds especially at night.
      • Women were also more likely to feel unsafe when using local trains and railway stations than were men. [14]

Why do women fear crime?
A number of factors have been associated with fear of crime and can contribute to women feeling unsafe in public places. These factors include:

The gendered nature of the crimes women fear
The crimes which women fear - sexual harassment and sexual assault - are crimes perpetrated predominantly against women by men. Men are sometimes victims of these crimes but are very unlikely to fear them.

These crimes are sexual crimes against the person and are far more horrifying to contemplate than robbery or car theft. They can induce grave fear.

Experience of harassment
Women who are or have been harassed often report higher levels of fear of crime, than those who have not experienced harassment.

A report published by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that 'in Australia, fear of crime is strongly associated with one's having received harassing, obscene or threatening telephone calls'. [15]

Verbal and sexual harassment are often experienced by women in public places. The harassment can be intimidating and cause feelings of powerlessness and fear.

Past experience of physical violence
If a particular group of people experience high levels of crime, then they are more likely to feel vulnerable to violence, and are likely to experience higher levels of fear.

Women who experience domestic violence report higher levels of fear in public places than women who are not at risk in their homes. [16]

Lack of understanding about violence against women
Sometimes women do not report violence against them because they don't realise a crime has been committed. For example, many women may not realise that harassment is a crime. Or, at home, women may not know that being emotionally or
physically abused is domestic violence, which is a crime.

Sometimes when women report violence they receive a poor response from services. If a service provider does not understand violence against women, they will not understand that violence can take many forms. They may even deny that it happens at all.

Sometimes the lack of understanding is because of a lack of information. Sometimes it is because of sexist and/or discriminatory attitudes.

A lack of understanding can mean no action is taken. The Safe Women Project has found that sexual harassment and sexual assault are often not discussed in community safety forums.

If violence against women is not acknowledged and discussed, then reducing the threat of this violence cannot be planned into community safety initiatives.




Opportunities for crime can make women feel most unsafe
Public places where women feel fear have been found to contain elements also present in public places where actual crimes have taken place.

For example, two studies have been conducted in Canada which compared the places where women feared sexual assault with the sites where actual sexual assaults took place. The kinds of places which women feared - for example, carparks and lots - and the factors of the environment they mentioned - for example, poor lighting and hiding spots - were similar to to the elements found in actual sexual assault crime scenes. [17]

While sexual assault is generally not a crime of opportunity, removing sites where potential assaults can take place can still make the crime more difficult to commit. They are therefore essential.




Poor responses to violence against women from police and the judiciary
Women often say that when they reported sexual harassment or sexual assault to police, they received a poor and/or a judgmental response. Many women say that some police and court officials respond as if they don't understand the crime or that no crime has been committed. They sometimes don't believe the victim's story. They may also blame the incident on the victim. (For a list of reports which document these types of responses, see section 3.)

As long as women know they may receive this kind of response, they are unlikely to go to the police. This may contribute to them feeling alone and unsupported in public places. It contributes to vulnerability and fear.

Community knowledge of violence
Members of the community sometimes know more about the actual incidence of violence in the community than what shows up in statistics. This is because an incident may be witnessed or experienced but may not be reported.

Sometimes violence is not reported because the victim does not consider it serious and/or believes it is 'to be expected'. Much of the violence which occurs between pub patrons is believed to go unreported.

Sometimes violence is not reported because the victim fears they will not be taken seriously or will receive a poor response from the police.

However, community members often witness violence and they will talk to others about it. For example, the 1996 Women's Safety Australia report found that in the 12 months prior to the research 59% of women who were sexually assaulted spoke to a friend or neighbour and 32% spoke to a family member. Only 15% of women who were sexually assaulted contacted the police.

In South Sydney, a number of gay men and lesbians have been violently attacked. Because these attacks were homophobic, that is specifically targeting gay men and lesbians, they generated higher levels of fear in the gay and lesbian community. This violence was known about and feared long before the police and South Sydney Council began to take action.

Community knowledge about violence can contribute to (or explain) higher levels of fear. If a woman is attacked or raped, information about the crime and where it took place will be passed around the community very quickly.
    Although more incidents of violence happen within the home, it's not unusual for everyone to have witnessed a number of incidents outside - in the street, in the shopping mall, at the pub.'

    Many Australian women are entirely familiar with violence in public open space. You know, it's not irrational at all for them to beleive that that's a possibility when they go outside.

    Marla Guppy - Ask Any Women video

Factors in the environment of unsafe public places
In section 1, women identified a number of factors in unsafe public places which they said made them feel more vulnerable to crime.
For example, if the places were isolated and poorly lit, if they had lots of hiding spots, if they were not well cared for, if there was an excessive amount of alcohol consumed there, or if groups of people perceived as 'unsafe' were often hanging around etc.
When these factors are not removed, improved or addressed, women continue to feel unsafe regardless of how safe an 'actual' crime profile reveals the area to be.

Poor responses from local councils
A poor response to women's safety concerns from their council is similar to a poor response from police. The Safe Women Project found that women felt very frustrated by the lack of response they often received from their council. It caused them to question the council's priorities.

A poor response or no response from council can result in women feeling powerless. Nobody will do anything about the problems. So to keep safe, many women take their own action. In the majority of cases, this means avoiding unsafe places.
    A poor response
    The lighting's poor. That's a big issue. You can't see at the end of the cul-de-sac. You can hear people walking around but in the night you can't see who it is. Cars have been vandalised. There's young people on motor bikes. I tried to write letters to council. Council passed it on to the Housing Department, Housing Department passed it back to council. Motor bikes tried to run people over. [18]

    One woman's story

‘Bad' planning
Planning is a key part of building communities. Planning guides land uses, development and the design of public places.
Bad planning can contribute to fear. Bad planning creates public places where women feel vulnerable. For example, dark and contained places such as an underpass, where women feel there is no way to get help. Bad planning does not acknowledge or understand women's safety concerns.

Bad planning does not acknowledge that public places are different during the day than at night.

Bad planning doesn't take into account the way women use public places, their needs and concerns. For example, women are often the most frequent users of public facilities - public transport, shopping centres, public toilets, parks. Yet most women won't even consider using them at night.

Bad planning does not consider the future of an area and how it might change - through the course of a day or over years. Today's lack in planning vision can be tomorrow's social or safety problem.

Key community assets such as public transport and carparks are often classified by women as unsafe. This is very bad planning.



Photo: Older style stations are often isolated, with poor signs, poor access to help and many stairs, making it difficult to use for women with strollers or shopping, or for people with disabilities.


Older style stations are often isolated, with poor signs, poor access to help and many stairs, making it difficult to use for women with strollers or shopping, or for people with disabilities.


Media reporting of crime
Anecdotal evidence from the Safe Women Project suggests that sensational newspaper and television reporting of crimes such as sexual assault and murder made women feel more unsafe.

A British study found that: 'In Britain, readers of tabloid newspapers which have more sensational crime coverage reported higher levels of fear than readers of broadsheet newspapers, whose crime coverage is less predominant and less dramatic'.[19]

The ways women learn to be women
Women are often portrayed as being more vulnerable to crime than men and not able to defend themselves physically. In these portrayals, if women are in danger, there is usually a hero who rescues them.

While the impact of these portrayals is complex, they do play a role in the ways we understand and define ourselves. We see so few examples of women having control over their lives, and even fewer of women defending themselves, that it can be hard to imagine anyone doing it.

Crime as a political issue
This is a complicated factor and as yet there is no research which explores how the political climate impacts on fear of crime.

Anecdotal evidence from the Safe Women Project suggests that political campaigning around law and order can sometimes lead to sensational reporting about crime which can contribute to higher levels of fear.

However, the impact of political campaigning can also be positive. In each of the case studies from local councils we have used in this kit, everyone interviewed said the council got involved in safety strategies when the council was lobbied by the community. These councils were able to (with input from residents) use the opportunity to take practical steps to increase safety and reduce fear, rather than just make political capital out of the fear.


Reasons to make public places safer for women
_________________________________________________________

A community that is safe for women is safe for everyone
Strategies which reduce women's fear of crime help women to feel safe and create environments which help to prevent crime.

Safer communities enable women to have greater access to public places and more opportunity to participate in public life. It will help to create more lively, livable cities.

Building strong and safe communities makes good sense. Safe public places means people feel better when they use them. This increases the amount of time people spend in public with others, rather than scuttling home and locking the door behind them.

More communal interaction promotes familiarity and recognition, often improving social cohesion. With familiarity and cohesion comes a sense of ownership and responsibility. Business will be attracted to the area.

 
Photo: When authorities do nothing about crime and fear, people feel they have to protect themselves. This often results in a fortress mentality and the use of bars, rollerdoors and barbed wire fencing.   
 
When authorities do nothing about crime and fear, people feel they have to protect themselves. This often results in a fortress mentality and the use of bars, rollerdoors and barbed wire fencing.
 

    Staying home to avoid risky situations desempowers women, it denies them equality and does nothing to reduce their vulnerability to violence, so that as a strategy it just doesn't work.

    Fear of crime affects the quality of women's lives and what they can achieve.

    Liz Reedy - Safe Women Project

Women's fear of crime costs the community

    As city centres are perceived to be dangerous, they are either deserted or given over to gangs of revellers and drunkards after dark.[20]

Fear of crime costs a community socially, culturally and financially.

Fear of crime damages women's lives. Many women restrict their activities to avoid unsafe places; as a result, they participate less in public life.

Women who feel unsafe in public places are more likely to pass through them quickly. They are unlikely to linger or get to know other people.

A community where women are fearful cannot prosper to its full potential. Public facilities and services will be under-utilised as women stay away from the streets, the bus stops or the train. Public facilities and business will suffer. A study conducted in Islington, Britain found that the main reason women were not going to the cinema, bingo, theatre or live music pubs was because of the sheer fear of going out alone or using public transport.[21]

Fortress mentality
When authorities do nothing about crime and fear, people feel they have to protect themselves, which unfortunately encourages people to be suspicious of each other. It often results in the construction of security fortresses. While people may be safer when inside their individual fortress, there is little change to safety in the general community. Fear levels may even increase as the presence of security guards and bars is a constant reminder of the threat of crime.

The financial costs can also be significant as the Nottingham Safer Cities Project in Britain, discovered. The project commissioned a public opinion survey which found that a substantial number of respondents always or usually avoided the city centre after dark. The project calculated that this avoidence strategy meant the loss of some £12 million turnover and 442 job opportunities in Nottingham. [22]

Most importantly, the community loses pride, hope and spirit. In its most extreme, public places become wastelands, occupied by a few, feared by most.

A legal obligation to protect
Understanding crime and crime prevention in terms of the urban environment may also have legal implications for managers of public places.

If a crime can be directly linked to an aspect of a public place, then it is possible that the person responsible for that place could be held partly responsible for the crime.

For example, in Wesley v. Greyhound Lines Inc (1977) in America, a woman was sexually assaulted at knife point while waiting for the bus in the women's lounge of the bus depot.

The depot had a history of crime. The bus station had recently been rebuilt, but the bus company had not taken any steps to improve the safety of the depot.

The court found that the standard of care which applies to public carriers also applied to the bus depot and that the bus company had been negligent in providing adequate security. The woman was awarded $150,000 of compensatory damages.

In legal terms, the manager of a public place is known as the third party. If the third party has legal obligations to protect the users of its facility as the bus company did, then they must do everything they can to provide adequate security. They are obliged to do what they can to prevent a person becoming a victim of crime while they are in that place.

This obligation is known as a duty of care. The more foreseeable the crime, that is, the more the crime could have been anticipated or predicted, then the greater is the duty to protect.

Design is increasingly seen as a potential factor in the incidence of some crimes. This means that managers of public places have a duty to ensure they do what they can to remove the opportunities for crime. For local councils, hotel owners, transport carriers, landlords of residents and businesses, protecting themselves from possible legal action is another incentive for them to make public places safer.

A word of caution
Although the threat of litigation can seem a very powerful incentive for safety actions, we need to be careful wielding this tool. Legal responsibility and litigation are very complicated areas and should not be seriously approached unless you are legally trained, or you have legal allies.

In addition, there is a danger that security precautions will take the form of fortress building rather than community safety activities.

There is also a danger that the social and cultural causes of crime will not be addressed. Crime will continue to be treated as a law and order issue, requiring more locks and more police, rather than community development activities which eliminate violence against women.

Improving safety for women is a government priority

The National Strategy on Violence Against Women found:
    Violence against women is a widespread and complex issue which can only be addressed adequately by co-ordinating resource application at all levels of government and the community. [23]

Reducing violence against women and improving women's safety is a priority at all levels of government.

The NSW Government Action Plan for Women 1996 identified that:
    Violence and fear of violence is a major concern for women, restricting their quality of life and ability to participate fully in the community. [24]

One of the key objectives of the Action Plan is reducing violence against women.

State and federal governments work toward reducing violence and improving safety in a number of ways. These include:
      • Making all violence against women a crime. Governments are reviewing the law and the implementation of laws to ensure that the legal justice system responds appropriately.
      • Providing services to support women and children who experience, or are threatened by, violence.
      • Initiating anti-violence education programs for schools and the community.

Local councils are also legally bound to their community by their Council Charter. Under the charter, they must provide adequate, equitable and appropriate services and facilities to the community. Services or facilities which women are afraid to use do not accord them equal access.

Safer public places promote social justice
The NSW Government Action Plan for Women is committed to ensuring that:
      • there is fairness in the distribution of resources;
      • rights are recognised and promoted;
      • people have fairer access to the economic resources and services essential to meet their basic needs and to improve their quality of life;
      • people have better opportunities for genuine participation and consultation about the decisions affecting their lives.[25]

Making public places safer for women recognises women have a right to feel safe. It promotes more equal access to resources, and provides a greater opportunity for women to participate in the community. In other words, it allows women the opportunity to participate in decisions which affect their lives.

Making public places safer for women is social justice in action.


Improving women's safety in public places
_________________________________________________________

Reducing women's fear of crime is the first step in improving women's safety. We can do this by building on community safety activities. The following strategies are suggestions.

These strategies are explored in more detail in sections 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Including women's fear of crime in our community safety problem

Work in community safety partnerships
As with all safety problems, women's concerns require a response from different groups. For example, lighting and signage are usually the responsibility of local council. Safer public transport is the responsibility of City Rail and the Department of Transport.

Reducing alcohol related violence involves the licensee and the police. Community safety partnerships are the most effective forum to address women's fear of crime.

Involve local women in community safety partnerships
Women can identify their safety problems and concerns. They may also want to be involved in developing solutions.

To develop a strong partnership:
      • provide consultation with, and to, women.
      • provide mechanisms so women can report ongoing crime concerns.
      • provide information and training to women who are interested in becoming active safety partners.
Resources should be committed to building this partnership.
    People often say: "why should we involve women and young people and old people in the community planning? My answer to that is: 'why shouldn't we?". We pay our taxes as women and aged people and young people too and we have needs in the community. Those needs need to be considered in any urban development or planning.

    Amanda Hill - Ask Any Woman video

Work with existing women's services
Sexual assault services, domestic violence services, women's resource centres and women's community health services all work with women who have experienced violence. They have extensive knowledge about working with women to improve women's safety. They are very important community safety partners.

Community safety activities may allocate resources to these services.

Conduct local research
Ask women to identify safe and unsafe public places. Conduct regular safety audits of the places which they identify.

This will help to gather community knowledge of violence and crime.

Develop a public response to crimes of sexual harassment and sexual assault
We can take actions within a safety partnership which may help to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment and assault in public places. Before we can do this, however, we need to be able to discuss it in our safety forum.







Training

Training for service providers who see clients who are victims of sexual assault is available from the Education Centre against Violence. Their number is (02) 9840 3737.

Information about violence aganst women is also available from your nearest sexual assault or domestic violence service. They may be able to suggest ways to inform the community.

Training on domestic violence and sexual assault (and a range of other issues) is also available from the Centre for Community Welfare Training (CCWT). CCWT run courses in a number of locations across NSW. Their phone number is (02) 9281 8822 (or freecall 1 800 649 613 FREE if you are outside Sydney metropolitan area).




Educate the community

Provide information about violence against women to the community.
This will need to include information about violence against women as well as appropriate ways to respond. It may need to be directed to service providers such as police and council as well as members of the community. Women may also need to be informed that sexual harassment and domestic violence are crimes.

Service providers could also participate in training programs which aim to improve service responses to women who have experienced violence.

Provide information to the community about the reported levels of violence in your local area
Provide members of the community with the facts about crime and levels of crime. If women can see a committed public response to reducing fear and making public places safer, then this knowledge can be useful in reducing fear.

This needs to be done in conjunction with other safety strategies and with an acknowledgment that crime statistics are not always reliable, because so much violence goes unreported.

Design out crime and fear of crime using CPTED principles

Make specific improvements to problem areas
For example:
      • improve lighting
      • reduce isolation
      • remove small, confined places (entrapment)
      • improve sightlines
      • improve signs
      • improving safety at transport stops
      • improving parks and public toilet facilities etc.

Develop programs to reduce fear in problem areas or spots
For example, the transport interchange or the mall, improving safety at transport stops, parks and public toilet facilities etc.

Improve ongoing management and maintenance of public places

An important aspect to designing out crime and fear of crime is improving management and maintenance of public places on an ongoing basis.

Managing alcohol and removing graffiti and repairing vandalism are particular problems which require specific attention.

Improve urban planning practices
Planning practices can be improved by:
      • incorporating CPTED principles into urban design;
      • considering both daytime and nighttime uses of public places;
      • ensuring that the ways women use public places is understood and incorporated into planning practices;
      • acknowledging and responding to women's safety concerns;
      • planning for changes over time; and
      • paying particular attention to safety at important community assets.

Incorporate women's safety concerns into council's planning process
This may involve a commitment in the management plan and the development of safety Development Control Plans.

Further reading
_________________________________________________________


Australian Bureau of Statistics 1996, Women's Safety Australia

Brisbane City Council July 1997, Community Safety Program - Summary of Progress to date

Clements, E. 1993, Safer Box Hill Police Community Consultative Committee Safer Communities Project Report

Community Safety Co-ordinator 1997, Community Safety Program - Summary of progress to date Brisbane City Council

Crime Prevention Division 1997, Crime Prevention Resource Manual DRAFT NSW Attorney General's Department

Crime Prevention Division 1996, Juvenile Crime in New South Wales - A review of the literature NSW Attorney General's Department, 1996

Department for Women 1996, NSW Government Action Plan for women

Fear of Crime, Queensland Criminal Justice Research Paper series vol 1, no. 2, 1994

Geason, S. and Wilson, P. 1989, Designing Out Crime: Crime Prevention through Environmental Design, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra

Grabosky, P. 1995, Fear of Crime and Fear Reduction Strategies Trends & Issues no 44, Australian Institute of Criminology

Hauritz, M. and Homel, R. 1997, Brisbane City Council - Community Safety Program discussion paper Griffith University

National Committee on Violence Against Women 1993, National Strategy on Violence Against Women Australian Government Publishing Service

New South Wales Local Government Act 1993

Norton, R. 1991, Fear of Crime. Perceptions of the local crime problem and victimisation in a local community within Fairfield local Government area Fairfield City Council

Onyx 1997 (unpublished) cited in Leonard, R. 'A Case Study in Public Safety and Social Capital: the Safe Women's Project' in Proceedings at the Social Capital Conference. Dept of Social Policy, University of Queensland, Brisbane

Safe City Committee of the City of Toronto and City of Toronto Planning and Development Department 1992, A Working Guide for Planning and Designing Safer Urban Environments

Safe Women Project 1994, Ask Any Woman: A report of a phone-in on women and safety in Liverpool local government area South Sydney Council 1997, Safer Design Draft Policy

Trench, S., Taner, O.C.T. & Tiesdell, S. 1992, 'Safer Cities for women: Perceived risks and planning measures' Town Planning Review vol 63, no. 3

Wekerle, G. & Whitzman, C. 1995, Safe Cities - Guidelines for planning, design and management.

Worpole, K. Towns for people Open University Press


Endnotes
_________________________________________________________


  1. McCamley, P. 1992, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and Crime Prevention Through Social Development, NSW Police Service, page 9
  2. Informed by the Crime Prevention Division 1997, Crime Prevention Resource Manual DRAFT NSW Attorney General's Department pages 2 and 56, and Crime Prevention Division 1996, Juvenile Crime in New South Wales - A review of the literature NSW Attorney General's Department, page 72
  3. Grabosky, P. 1995, Fear of Crime and Fear Reduction Strategies Trends & Issues no 44, Australian Institute of Criminology, page 1
  4. Ibid, page 1
  5. Ibid, page 1
  6. South Sydney Council 1997, Safer Design Draft Policy, page 1.1
  7. Brisbane City Council July 1997, Community Safety Program - Summary of Progress to date page 3
  8. Sources: Pollard, R. 'Mary's Place: reducing violence by design' Sydney Star Observer 10 July 1997, page 5 and 'Mary's place' Lifesaver, March-April 1997, page 4.
  9. Grabosky, P. 1995, page 1
  10. Brisbane City Council July 1997, page 3
  11. Canadian Urban Victimisation Survey cited in Safe City Committee of the City of Toronto and City of Toronto Planning and Development Department 1992, A Working Guide for Planning and Designing Safer Urban Environments, page 3
  12. Onyx 1997 (unpublished) cited in Leonard, R. 'A Case Study in Public Safety and Social Capital: the Safe Women's Project' in Proceedings at the Social Capital Conference. Dept of Social Policy, University of Queensland, Brisbane
  13. Cited in Fear of Crime, Queensland Criminal Justice Research Paper vol 1, no. 2, 1994
  14. Norton, R. 1991, Fear of Crime. Perceptions of the local crime problem and victimisation in a local community within Fairfield local Government area Fairfield City Council, pages 7-9
  15. Grabosky, P. 1995, page 2
  16. Queensland victims of crime survey 1991 cited in Fear of crime, Queensland Criminal Justice Research Paper vol 1, no. 2, 1994
  17. Cited in Safe City Committee of the City of Toronto and City of Toronto Planning and Development Department 1992, A Working Guide for Planning and Designing Safer Urban Environments, page 3
  18. Safe Women Project 1994, Ask Any Woman: A report of a phone-in on women and safety in Liverpool local government area, page 34
  19. Grabosky, P. 1995, page 3
  20. Trench, S., Taner, O.C.T. & Tiesdell, S. 1992, 'Safer Cities for women: Perceived risks and planning measures' Town Planning Review vol 63, no. 3, page 280
  21. cited in Worpole, K. Towns for people Open University Press, page 52
  22. cited in Worpole, K. Towns for people Open University Press, page 53
  23. National Committee on Violence Against Women 1993, National Strategy on Violence Against Women Australian Government Publishing Service, page 6
  24. Department for Women 1996, NSW Government Action Plan for women, page 1
  25. Department for Women 1996, page 2








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