Exploring crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) and students’ fear of crime at an Australian university campus using prospect and refuge theory
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© 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: Crime and fear of crime in and around the university campus can affect enrolments and retention rates as well as compromising the safety, security and well-being of students and staff. The purpose of this paper is to explore user perceptions of personal safety using the “Prospect and Refuge Model” and crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). Design/methodology/approach: The study used a fear of crime survey of 88 students at a university in Western Australia. The respondents were asked to identify on a map, three locations perceived to be “safe” and three locations perceived to be “unsafe”. The six most commonly identified sites were then visually audited to measure the levels of “prospect” and “refuge” and CPTED features at each location. Findings: The findings indicate the top three “fear spots” were associated with low levels of “prospect” and high levels of “refuge” – and generally, with poor opportunities for natural surveillance and CPTED qualities. The top three “safe spots” had consistently higher levels of “prospect” and lower levels of “refuge” in the site audits and responses to the surveys. Increased opportunities for surveillance were therefore associated with increased levels of personal safety. Research limitations/implications: The survey is relatively small (88) and a larger study is certainly required to underpin these findings. The methodology is transferable to other universities and facilities seeking to manage crime and fear of crime. The research develops more finely nuanced measures for the concepts of prospect and refuge. Practical implications: Interestingly, surveillance opportunities and perceptions of personal safety were perceived to be mediated by distance from buildings and by the construction of new buildings and infrastructure being carried out across the campus. This has implications for the construction of new universities and for those which are expanding. Recommendations are provided for new and existing universities and for those undergoing redevelopment. Social implications: Improving students’ perception of personal safety can enhance their performance and retention at university. Originality/value: No studies have investigated the campus design and layout and students’ perceptions of personal safety in Australia in this way. The approach is more “bottom-up” by first exploring users’ perceptions of “unsafe” locations, then assessing these sites in terms of the presence or absence of measures for CPTED and prospect-refuge.
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