Australian Institute of Criminology

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Using GIS to investigate spatio-temporal links between disorder, crime and the fear of crime

Australian Institute of Criminology, Bruce J Doran
22 January 2004 -

Bruce J Doran
Australian National University


Whilst links between social and physical disorder, crime and the fear of crime have long been areas of research interest, few studies have looked at these links from a spatio-temporal viewpoint. This is somewhat surprising, as many of the factors associated with disorder, crime and fear are known to vary over time and space. This paper uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to investigate potential spatio-temporal links between these areas in Wollongong, NSW, with specific focus on links between graffiti and the fear of crime. The results reveal that fear of crime hotspots vary considerably over time and often envelope hotspots of graffiti. Graffiti was found to be one of the most prevalent types of physical disorder. The results are discussed in the context of the broken windows thesis and strategic intervention at the community level.

Bruce Doran is currently in the final stages of completing a PhD in Resource and Environmental Management at the Australian National University. His research involves the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to investigate potential links between the fear of crime, the actual occurrence of crime and social and physical disorder. Links between these different areas have been suggested but rarely analysed from a spatio-temporal viewpoint. His study site is the city of Wollongong on the southeast coast of NSW. It is hoped that by highlighting hotspots in time and space, the research findings will provide information that is both relevant and useful to crime and fear of crime prevention strategies.