Despite its perception as the ‘crime capital’ of Australia, Gold Coast residents are not fearful of crime in their neighbourhoods, according to a new Griffith University study.
Researchers from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice surveyed more than 700 Gold Coast residents earlier this year to determine their attitudes towards local crime.
Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Dr Timothy Hart said the report offered a new insight into an important social issue affecting communities throughout Australia, including the Gold Coast.
“The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently estimated more than four million Australian adults felt unsafe at home, walking alone in their neighbourhood at night or taking public transport at night, but these figures do not tell us what it is Australians fear,’’ he said.
“They also do not indicate whether peoples’ feelings about safety reflect a constant state of worry or anxiety, or if they indicate responses to “spikes’’ or “lulls’’ in uneasiness.”
“Griffith researchers have measured Gold Coast residents’ attitudes to better understand the nature and extent of fear of crime locally and what we have found is reassuring.”
In the month prior to completing the survey about eight in 10 residents had not worried about being attacked by a stranger in public, about two-thirds had not worried about someone breaking into their home while they were there and about half had not worried about someone breaking into their home while they were away.
When locals were asked about fear of personal victimisation, about a third of Gold Coast residents said that they will definitely not be attacked by a stranger (36%) or robbed/mugged (34%) in the street over the next 12 months, compared to about 1% of people who feel they will definitely be a victim of these crimes.
Participants were also asked about how often they felt crime would occur in their neighbourhood in the future.
“Results of the survey suggest that about half of Gold Coast residents believe that no one will be attacked or robbed/mugged in their neighbourhood during the next month but on the other hand about 2% believe that these types of crime will occur in their neighbourhood on a daily basis.”
The survey also collected information about perceptions of neighbourhoods in which participants lived, to see if they were related to attitudes towards crime. In general, Gold Coast residents living in neighbourhoods with relatively low levels of incivility (social control and physical disorder) and high levels of social cohesion are less fearful of crime than residents who live in neighbourhoods with higher levels of incivility and lower levels of social cohesion.
Dr Hart said while the report’s findings were enlightening, additional research was needed and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice would continue to investigate different aspects of fear of crime.
Plans for future research using data collected during this survey will focus on 1) the relationship between perceptions of crime and where individuals get their information about crime; 2) spatial patterns of fear (i.e., fear “hot spots”; and 3) the situational context of fear.
- A higher percentage of Gold Coast women than men say that the consequences of victimisation, regardless of crime type, would affect their lives greatly.
- Regardless of crime type, the majority of Gold Coast residents felt that their lives would be affected to some degree if they were to become a crime victim.
- Compared to other indicators of fear, Gold Coast residents’ attitudes towards controlling crime do not vary by crime type.
- Gold Coast residents living in neighbourhoods with relatively low levels of incivility (i.e. social and physical disorder) and high levels of social cohesion (i.e. informal social control and social capital) are less fearful of crime than residents who live in neighbourhoods that are described as having higher levels of incivility and lower levels of social cohesion.
- About half of all residents have heard of at least one of eight Gold Coast City Council initiatives designed to reduce crime and increase public safety; however, knowledge of council’s efforts is unrelated to attitudes towards crime, regardless of crime type or how fear is defined.
- There is no association between fear of crime and where residents get information about crime on the Gold Coast.
- Read the report