Differential rates of vandalism in a new town: Towards a theory of relative place

Sutton, Michael Robert (1987) Differential rates of vandalism in a new town: Towards a theory of relative place. Doctoral thesis, Lancashire Polytechnic.

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The aim of this thesis is to explain the reasons why some residential areas have substantially more vandalism than others.
Various theories are critically examined in the first three chapters in relation to their applicability in explaining spatial patterning of crime and delinquency.
A new town, which had visibly highly different levels of vandalism on different housing estates, was chosen for study. Secondary data, commissioned by the Skelmersdale Development Corporation, was analysed to see if the vandalised and non-vandalised areas had other distinquishing characteristics - demographically and socio-economically.
Six main hypotheses were constructed for testing in Skelmersdale. A random stratified sample of householders were interviewed regarding their attitudes towards victimisation and tolerance of crime and delinquency.
Householders were interviewed on both "problem" and "non-problem" housing estates. The Data was then analysed by using the SPSSx computer package.
The main conclusion is that it is necessary to adopt a holistic approach to more fully understand the complex processes which produce "problem" and "non-problem" residential areas. This means viewing the phenomena of vandalism by looking at the delinquents, the housing market, macro economics and social and cultural structures.
In explaining vandalism no one theory, such as defensible space, will do. We need to take into account a multitude of
factors - such as the relative desirability of housing areas, tenants self selection processes, housing allocation processes, conduct norms, informal social control mechanisms, the existence of empty houses and the opportunity to commit vandalism etc. All these will have different degrees of importance in different housing areas. The reasons for vandalism will be relative to the place where it is committed.

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