An economic analysis of community safety: evidence from the City of Portsmouth

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis aims to apply economic analysis to the broad concept of community safety, focussing on the city of Portsmouth, England. Detailed data sources include: a residents’ survey, police figures and administrative records of community support services.
Assorted statistical techniques are used to uncover: who blames parents, what drives perceptions of drug problems, who is most effected by fear of crime, what factors determine a successful and timely outcome for substance misusers, potential offenders and victims.
It is found that lower income households and those with children, are more likely to consider parental responsibility a problem. Most notably, a tendency to blame the parents very strongly associates with a perception that people in the area do not treat each other with respect.
The findings indicate the importance of dissatisfaction with crime prevention efforts (control signals) and perceptions of anti-social behaviour and drug problems in influencing the fear of crime. However, perceptions of quality of life and neighbourhood cohesion do not have a significant influence.
There is strong evidence to support the proposition that perceptions and neighbourhood characteristics more strongly inform perceptions of drug use and dealing than personal characteristics. High perceptions in areas of low measurable drug use are less influenced by observations and neighbourhood characteristics, and more so by softer feelings of dissatisfaction, fears and attitudes. Informal social control strongly influences all perceptions of drug problems.
Interaction between substance misuse and offending behaviour reduces the chance, and delays the timing, of successfully managing either. Residing in prison significantly reduced successful outcomes, but sped up success for offenders. Direct access support and identifying specific needs, led to successful outcomes faster, albeit countered by delays if provided by voluntary agencies. Floating support consistently reduced success. Demographic information was found not to be significant in determining a successful or timely outcome; action towards seeking work, or attempting to achieve economic wellbeing were more important.
Date of AwardNov 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAlan Collins (Supervisor)

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