Crime perception and inner city population migration

Criminology Research Council grant ; (6/80)

This study attempted to ascertain the effects of crime rates on residential mobility in an inner city suburb of Brisbane. The particular suburb, Spring Hill, was chosen for two main reasons:

  1. It is an inner city residential area undergoing the land use and demographic changes common in many similar Australian settings.
  2. Brisbane City Council is preparing a development control plan for the suburb. A great deal of basic information about the suburb has been accummulated as part of this exercise, but just as importantly, the results of the research project will be of use to the Council in the physical and social planning of the area; and it is felt by many people outside the suburb to have a high crime rate.

The study did not achieve all of its objectives, but it did produce a number of results which surprised the investigators and which would prove fruitful avenues for further investigation.

It was found that a high proportion of Spring Hill residents told interviewers that they did not think their suburb had a high crime rate. This may reflect the true state of affairs, or it may be merely part of a protective mechanism developed by residents living in an area with a truly high crime rate. More sensitive interviewing in this area would be needed to clarify this.

The results indicate an ambiguous relationship between crime rates and perception of them. The survey was unable to clarify whether there was a link between perception of crime rates and residential mobility, but an investigation over time would provide a clearer indication. There were some indications from the survey that the possible link between perception of degree of disorder in a residential environment and expectations of deviant behavior was worth further investigation.

The study confirmed the pattern of non-reporting of crime by victims. The survey also showed the extent to which people feel that action can be taken by city authorities and the police to reduce crime in their area.

The full report of this research has been published in Planscape No.2 for June 1981.