Neighbourhood Effects or Neighbourhood Based Problems?

pp 67-87


The Role of Neighbourhoods in Shaping Crime and Perceptions of Crime

  • Ian Brunton-SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, University of Surrey Email author 
  • , Alex SutherlandAffiliated withInstitute of Criminology, University of Cambridge
  • , Jonathan JacksonAffiliated withDepartment of Methodology, The London School of Economics and Political Science

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Neighbourhood context plays an important role in the development of the perceptions of crime. To understand how neighbourhood contexts can influence crime, the authors present four major theories through which neighbourhood content is mediated to individual perceptions: social disorganisation, subcultural diversity, low level disorder and, defensible space. The authors focus on the need to improve the estimation of neighbourhood effects with regard to individual perceptions of crime. Reviewing current literature, they highlight a common set of neighbourhood effects problems including the issue of relating multiple levels in a single model, the problem of selection bias, and the identification of adequate neighbourhood units for analysis. In the analysis, UK administrative geography is adopted as a means to represent the neighbourhood, and a multilevel model is fitted. The final part of the chapter deals with the policies that have been pursued to ameliorate neighbourhood problems associated with crime. The focus of the policy discussion is UK centred, and the development of neighbourhood policing teams is discussed. In conclusion, the authors highlight the complexity that remains in developing understanding of neighbourhood perceptions of crime. This is largely a result of the multiple influencing factors that are related to individual perceptions of crime but rarely included explicitly in the models that seek to report the links between people and the places that they live.