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Addressing the Security Needs of Women Passengers on Public Transport

Abstract

Managers of public transport systems seeking to maintain or increase ridership need to be aware of the security needs of passengers on their systems. A recent review, edited by Smith and Cornish (2006), of five different types of crime and disorder on public transport looked at situational crime prevention measures currently used, or proposed for use, against these offenses. The present analysis draws on this work to present a framework for analyzing the security needs of women passengers. The discussion reviews previous research in four key areas: (1) women's reported victimization, (2) issues related to calculating the risk of being a crime victim, (3) the rationality of women's fear of crime and disorder, and (4) the need for effective and comprehensive crime prevention measures to address these security-related issues. The “whole journey” approach is used to highlight aspects of the transit journey for women passengers that require special attention among transport providers, local governmental authorities (including police departments), policy makers, and researchers.

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Figure 1

Notes

  1. “Line-of-route” offenses refer to crimes of vandalism or trespass that occur along the routes of trains, trams, or buses that may interfere with the safe passage of those vehicles.

  2. That report provided detailed calculations of the lost revenues due to concerns over personal safety and the potential amounts that could be recouped if security changes were made in the service for different categories of riders from different locations in the metropolitan New York area.

  3. I am grateful to Professor Mangai Natarajan for telling me of this practice and its importance to women travelers.

  4. I am grateful to Professor Diane Zahm for pointing out that Levine and Wachs looked at the stages of the journey in their analysis of bus crime in Los Angeles.

  5. Sometimes it is difficult for victims to identify where the crime occurred, as with stealth crimes such as pickpocketing where something is taken from the victim in one place and the theft is not discovered until much later in some other place.

  6. The Women's Design Service (http://wds.org.uk) also provides toolkits on how to conduct gender audits. I am grateful to Professor Paul Ekblom for pointing out this resource to me.

  7. See Fisher and Sloan (2003) for support for the idea that fear of rape is a “shadow” fear for fears of other crimes.

  8. Innes and Fielding (2002) used the term “signal crime” to indicate the type of lower-level crime or disorder condition that may be seen as a sign that another type of more serious crime is possible in that situation.

  9. What is more, transport systems cannot be expected to address crime problems that are removed from their mission. Other types of crime-specific measures need to be designed for these problems.

  10. Minicab drivers operate private cars as part of a livery service rather than using the traditional special-purpose vehicles used by hackney cab drivers and, thus, can be difficult to distinguish from unlicensed drivers.

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Acknowledgements

I thank Carol Zuegner for her assistance and support for this project, and Ron Clarke, Derek Cornish, Russell Morgan, and Phyllis Schultze for their insights and efforts in connection with earlier projects on crime and public transport. I also thank the anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on an earlier draft.

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Smith, M. Addressing the Security Needs of Women Passengers on Public Transport. Secur J 21, 117–133 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.sj.8350071

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Keywords

  • public transport
  • situational crime prevention