Dissertation Results - Part one
Location, Crime and Risk Perception
Location also factored heavily in the risk perception of both male and female respondents. Generally, residents within Mitcham had a higher level of risk perception than those within the Richmond upon Thames area. This result collaborates with findings by Jackson (2006) which highlight studies that have found that risk perception is more pronounced in areas that have a higher crime rate and as a result have higher levels of socio-economic inequality. When looking at the target areas for this study, the Metropolitan Police (2011) state that there were 14,635 crimes in Merton (the London Borough where Mitcham is located) in the year between June 2009 and June 2010. In Richmond, that total was 11,464 (Met Police, 2011).
This relationship between crime rates and risk perception is also clearly shown in responses to questions within the survey that ask for individuals own thoughts on flooding and the risks associated with it. One respondent made a specific point that whilst they viewed the risk of the floods affecting themselves as low, the risk of burglary / assault caused by their property being empty or vulnerable as a result was “…much more worrying that the flood itself” (Respondent D, Mitcham, Aged 41-50). This respondent went on to explain that these views had arisen due to watching the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the antisocial behaviour that followed. This fear of crime and its association to increased or heightened risk perception could also partially explain the higher fear amongst women than men in the two study areas chosen. In his paper on fear of crime and risk perception Jackson (2006) argues that women tend to associate crime with a sexual or violent attack, where as men normally associate fear of crime either through muggings or burglary. The types of crime feared also have an impact on the elderly and vulnerable in society and this may go some way to explaining the increased risk perception amongst elderly females.
Despite these clear correlations between instances of crime and increased risk perception there is nothing in the literature or guidelines provided by central and local government that details how to go about protecting your house if you are forced to evacuate due to flooding. This short sightedness on risk manager’s part may go some way to explaining why getting all members of society to evacuate. Whilst in a different country with a separate set of societal issues to consider, this lack of proactive advice may have contributed to the high numbers of people to remain in their properties during Hurricane Katrina, despite federal and state government warnings to the contrary.