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Guardianship in action among Brisbane suburban residents: environmental facilitators of guardianship intensity and the influence of living in a Queenslander

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Using data collected from observations made of 279 properties located in two homogeneous Brisbane neighbourhoods, the current study examines guardianship intensity among Australian suburban residents. Comparisons between findings from similar studies conducted in The Hague (the Netherlands) and two U.S. cities suggest that some guardianship behaviours observed in Brisbane are unique to the suburban context. Furthermore, results from the current investigation reveal that certain physical and situational characteristics of Brisbane suburban neighbourhoods (i.e. surveillance opportunities, territoriality and accessibility) are significantly associated with residents’ guardianship intensity. Finally, current findings reveal that differences in guardianship intensity among neighbourhood residents do not vary by the type of housing commonly found in the Brisbane suburban context (i.e. the Queenslander). A discussion of the theoretical and policy implications of the current investigation is offered.

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  1. In Reynald (2009), territorial definition was measured using four key indicators: (a) the height, extent and transparency of physical barriers, (b) presence of outdoor seating, (c) size of front garden and (d) private landscaping including the use of decorations and property signs. A 4-point scale was used to measure the extent to which the view from property windows was obstructed to form the measurement of surveillance opportunities. Image/maintenance was measured using three indicators: (a) presence of graffiti, (b) state of disrepair including presence of litter, paint/repairs were needed, and garden condition and (c) presence of broken lights or windows. Street-level characteristics observed whether social interaction between residents was observed, and the flow of pedestrians, cyclists and traffic per 3-min interval.

  2. Reynald (2011) used different measurements of key variables compared to Reynald (2009) and examined the correlates at the street level (instead of property level). Territoriality was measured using seven indicators: (a) presence of outdoor seating, (b) height of barrier, (c) extent of barrier, (d) private landscaping, (e) presence of decorations, (f) presence of property signs/nameplates and (g) size of front yard. The measurement of image/maintenance was extended to four indicators including: (a) presence of graffiti, (b) state of disrepair, (c) presence of broken lights/windows and (d) presence of litter. Target hardening was also included in this study and measured whether gates, doors and windows were open and whether security bars and alarm systems were present. Surveillance opportunities, activity levels and social interaction were measured consistent with prior work (Reynald 2009).

  3. The Australian Statistical Geographical Standard (ASGS) is the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ geographical framework (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013b), but does not define suburbs. Instead, they use a hierarchical system of Statistical Area Level 4’s to Statistical Area Level 1’s. SA2s are the closest approximation of suburbs and are “general purpose medium sized areas” that interact socially and economically, and generally have populations of 3000–25,000 residents (average 10,000). The initial sampling frame included five SA4s: Brisbane North, Brisbane East, Brisbane South, Brisbane West and Brisbane Inner City, which collectively consist of 137 SA2s.

  4. For a detailed description of the CACC technique, please see Hart (2014), Miethe et al. (2008) and Hart et al. (2017).


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Correspondence to Emily Moir.

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Moir, E., Reynald, D.M., Hart, T.C. et al. Guardianship in action among Brisbane suburban residents: environmental facilitators of guardianship intensity and the influence of living in a Queenslander. Secur J 34, 77–96 (2021).

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