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People, not cameras & lighting, key to feeling safe

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It takes more than just CCTV cameras and lighting to make people feel safe in the city, a study of Adelaide’s East End has found.

A University of Adelaide research team surveyed residents, business owners and visitors, and completed an audit of the urban environment in the East End.

The study found business and social activity was the most important factor in respondents’ perceptions of safety in the East End, and that even very well lit areas can feel unsafe at night if there is little activity going on.

“We identified a number of issues that contribute to people feeling unsafe in the area,” study coordinator Associate Professor Veronica Soebarto said.

Soebarto said respondents to the survey nominated Grenfell Street and the southern side of North Terrace – opposite Adelaide University and the Royal Adelaide Hospital – as areas where they felt unsafe at night.

“The main issue is business and social activity – the more of it there is, the more people feel safe,” Soebarto said.

“There could be good lighting, which is often the emphasis of crime prevention (however) in our interviews with people that’s not people’s main concern.

“While an area might have very good lighting at night, if there is no social or business activity around that area, people will report feeling unsafe.”

Associate professor Veronica Soebarto said Grenfell Street and the southern side of North Terrace were areas of the city that made people feel unsafe.

Associate professor Veronica Soebarto said Grenfell Street and the southern side of North Terrace were areas of the city that made people feel unsafe.

The research team considered the types of buildings, streets and laneways present in the East End, demographics, pedestrian traffic, maintenance, security measures, lighting, business and even the colour of exterior walls to measure what makes people feel safe.

According to the study, the ability to see from one end of a street through to another was also an important factor in people’s perception of personal safety.

Soebarto said perceptions of a lack of safety were particularly acute when ground-level businesses were closed at night, and that small-scale shops also made respondents feel more safe than large buildings.

However, Soebarto said the East End was generally regarded as a safe area.

 

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