عنوان مقاله [English]
نویسندگان [English]چکیده [English]
As crime rates have rapidly increased globally, crime prevention has received a great deal of attention among scholars in recent years. Neighbourhoods play a significant role in the lives of those who live and socialise within their boundaries, and how they interact in the neighbourhood environment. Certain characteristics of the neighbourhood can affect residents’ perceptions towards neighbourhood problems. Both the social and physical conditions of the neighbourhood may affect the perception of the residents on the surrounding environment. The incivilities thesis posits that signs of incivilities contribute to an increase in the fear of crime. Despite the theory that management of incivilities can make safer communities, the empirical literature on examining the indirect effect of the incivilities thesis is limited. Interventions require a better understanding of the neighbourhood correlates of both cognitive (perceived risk) and affective (fear of crime) responses to crime. The affective dimension of fear of crime refers to the emotional responses to fear of being a victim of specific crime types, while the cognitive dimension refers to risk of crime victimisation. This study examines the associations between disorder, perceived risk and fear of crime by considering gender as a control variable in a sample of 160 residents in Penang, Malaysia. Five research hypotheses were put forward and tested using the structural equation modelling on a priori hypothesised theoretical model. The effect of perceptions of disorder on perceived risk and fear of crime was investigated. Of particular interest in this investigation was the possible contextual effect of gender on the residents’ perception of their neighbourhood. The results of structural equation modelling reveal that high disorder is positively associated with perceived risk and fear of crime. Likewise, perceived risk mediates the relationship between disorder and fear of crime. Consistent with prior research, women perceived higher levels of disorder, perceived risk and fear of crime. This would suggest that women perceived their immediate surroundings in negative terms and they are the gender more fearful of crime. This may presumably refer to a lack of physical strength, less mobility for this group of people and reinforced beliefs of vulnerability through communication, behaviour and interactions. In addition, over time, the results of the present study provide empirical support for the initial classic theory, incivilities thesis. In fact, lowering the level of crime is not the only way of alleviating risk perceptions and fear, particularly amongst women. Although we do not claim that fear is independent of direct victimisation, other factors such as environmental factors can play a significant role in mitigating fear of crime. Therefore, based on the study findings, we suggest that local planning authorities need to pay attention to such important matters in neighbourhoods as street lighting provision and maintenance, eliminating concealed spots, designing streetscapes to enhance visibility, and last but not least increasing the visibility of the police to citizens.
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