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Geoforum 31 (2000) 269280

Revisiting fear and place: women's fear of attack and the built environment
Hille Koskela a, Rachel Pain b
b a Department of Geography, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 4, 00014 Helsinki, Finland Division of Geography and Environmental Management, University of Northumbria at Newcastle, Lipman Building, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK

Received 16 September 1998; in revised form 28 April 1999

Abstract The eort to `design out fear' through altering built environments has been popular amongst academics and planners. Success is limited, as simplistic notions of the fear of crime its experience by individuals and its constitution as a social reality tend to be employed. This paper examines the relationship between the built environment and women's fear of crime, based on qualitative studies in two European cities. While particular environments are often identied when women talk about the threat of attack, this reects much broader processes operating to create fear. Fear inuences our experience of places, as much as places inuence our experiences of fear. 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Fear of violence; Gender; Design out fear; Urban spaces; Built environment

1. Introduction We are left with a central problem. If massive improvements to domestic safety measures coupled with enhanced local street lighting, path widening, and so on fail to make a signicant impact on residents' fear of crime, what is there left to try? (Nair et al., 1993, p. 560) 1.1. Fear of crime and the built environment The relationship between community safety and built environments has been a popular focus in studies of crime in the environmental disciplines (Coleman, 1990; Fyfe and Bannister, 1996; Herbert and Davidson, 1994; Smith, 1987; Van der Wur et al., 1989). The notion that fear of crime can be `designed out', or at least its worst eects moderated by changing built environments, has underpinned many policy recommendations and initiatives (Nassar and Fisher, 1992; Oc and Tiesdell, 1997; Rowe, 1996; Vrij and Winkel, 1991). However, as the quote above (the conclusion to a review of UK streetlighting research) suggests, studies of the eects of strengthening housing defences, altering
E-mail address: hille.koskela@helsinki. (H. Koskela).

street lighting and aspects of environmental design have often failed to come up with consistent ndings about the long term benets to feelings of safety (Atkins et al., 1991; Nair et al., 1993; Ramsey and Newton, 1991). Part of the problem is methodological: tending to rely on before and after attitudinal surveys, research has often failed to capture the complex and dynamic relationships which people have, both with the built environments they use and in their emotional responses to crime. However, the problem is also one of how `fear of crime' is conceptualised. Much of the environmental design literature takes a fairly crude and mechanistic approach to the causal relationships involved; and so, in the face of the apparent failure of environmental modications, Nair et al. (1993) seem at a loss to suggest alternatives to `try'. This statement is symptomatic of an approach in which social processes and physical space tend to be treated as separate. Elsewhere, research suggests that they are interconnected. It is impossible to speak of reactions to the threat of crime in particular environments without taking into account the social and political relations which structure both the physical spaces, and the daily lives, of the individuals involved (Koskela, 1997; Pain, 1997a,b; Painter, 1992; Smith, 1989; Stanko, 1987; Valentine, 1989; Van der Wur et al., 1989).

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In fact, the `designing out fear' approach is premised on the idea that physical design can lead to fear reduction through altering the social world, originating from Newman's (1972) ideas about crime and defensible space. It is not environmental alterations per se which it is hoped will reduce fear; rather it is the increased sense of ownership and informal surveillance of space, and the likelihood of greater social interaction, which may result from environmental change (Oc and Tiesdell, 1997; Newman, 1972). Such an argument cannot simply be rejected as deterministic. However, our challenge in this paper is that fear of crime is so closely embedded in broader aspects of social life that, while improvements to built environments may benet some aspects of quality of life, they are unlikely to have signicant eects on fear of crime. We suggest that the built environment has received far more attention from academics and policy makers concerned with fear of crime than it warrants, at the expense of the social causes of fear. We explore the relationship between the built environment and fear of crime with reference to qualitative research in two European cities. Both qualitative methods and spatial comparisons at this scale have rarely featured in research investigating this relationship. There is a need for such inquiry to situate individuals in particular social and geographical contexts, and to focus on reactions to very particular crimes (the generic `fear of [all] crime' has limited meaning here, as reactions to burglary, vandalism and sexual assault may be as disparate as the crimes themselves). The studies we report concentrated on women's fear of violent attack in Helsinki and Edinburgh. Men may also be concerned about particular built environments (Hay 1993), and fear of crimes other than assault may be experienced there (both areas which might benet from further in depth research), but it is women's fear of violence which has emerged as the most pressing issue from crime surveys and feminist work alike. The ndings are specic to this crime and to these cities but also, we hope, support some transferable principles which might inform the wider debate. 1.2. Women's safety and the built environment Among the strongest critiques of mainstream fear of crime theory have been those of feminist criminologists, particularly Stanko (1987, 1990a, 1997), who has highlighted the socio-political constitution of fear of crime, in particular its gendered nature. Elsewhere those feminists concerned with women's safety in relation to practical planning issues were amongst the earliest and strongest supporters of `designing out fear'. Women's fear of attack within built environments has received specialist attention both from geographers (Valentine, 1990; Wekerle and Whitzman, 1995) and architects and town planners (Metrac, 1990; Women's Design Service,

1988), at least in the UK and North America where women's safety has been on political agendas for some time. In Finland safety has not been a signicant goal planning until recently and the objective of taking better account of women's concerns is just emerging. Elsewhere in Western Europe and in North America, many city authorities have integrated women's concerns into measures aimed at reducing fear in particular environments (Kelly, 1986; Oc and Tiesdell, 1997; Trench et al., 1992; Whitzman, 1992). The feminist perspective on environmental design sets women's unsafety rmly in a socio-political framework of patriarchal relations, relating fear to tangible risks and to women's broader social vulnerability as well as highlighting the man-made nature of particular designed environments (Matrix, 1984; Greed, 1994). Given recent developments in feminist geographical and criminological theories, this strength of support can be questioned on a number of grounds. First are the important contributions made by feminist criminologists to the new directions which fear of crime theory is taking. Authors such as Stanko (1987, 1990a,b, 1997) have developed understanding of the social relations which underlie gendered fear, discussed later in this paper, and which we suggested above, undermine the idea that fear can be `designed out'. Second, a feminist reading of women's safety must critique the particular ways in which discourses around women's safety have been spatialised in urban safety planning, where crime, disorder and fear are located within the public realm rather than socio-political structures such as gender, class, race and age which cut across space (Stanko, 1990a; Walklate, 1989). While the emphasis of planners on the public realm is to be expected, it conicts with much research showing that violence against women takes place in both private and public space, with patriarchal power relations being reproduced in both settings (Hall, 1985; Russell, 1982; Stanko, 1987; Mirrlees-Black et al., 1996). Third, some of the earlier literature on women's relationships with built environments had a tendency to be unintentionally essentialist (`they are women, therefore they react like this to that environment'). Postmodern feminist approaches cast doubt on making generalised statements about all women. Dierence and diversity amongst women race, age, sexuality, pregnancy and motherhood, income, living arrangements and so on can be expected to be reected in women's attitudes to and use of particular environments (Boys, 1990; Longhurst, 1996; Rose et al., 1997), generating problems for identifying policy initiatives on crime (Walklate, 1995). Four, there seems a contradiction between theorising fear in place in terms of patriarchal power relations, and advocating positivistic change at the micro-scale. The paradox arises from the feminist standpoint of listening

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and responding to women's everyday experiences and concerns, amongst which concern about built environments is commonly articulated (Hall, 1985; Wekerle and Whitzman, 1995). Yet the strategy of tackling fear through design seems to conict with the feminist goals of reducing violence. The latter goals focus on perpetrators rather than victims, and on challenging male dominance in all spheres (Hanmer and Saunders, 1993; Stanko, 1990b). To recap, there are at least two dierent `levels' of discussion within the feminist tradition. Scholars who have the basis of their thought in the critical tradition of social science have emphasised the social and political nature of fear and pointed out that fear is inevitably embedded in gendered power relations. Another group of feminists, writing from the architectural and planning disciplines and professions, have proposed the idea (seemingly naive in comparison) that the built environment is a product of gender relations, that `our cities are patriarchy written in stone, brick, glass and concrete' (Darke, 1996: 88), and that the male dominated planning profession is `marginalising women and their needs within the built environment' (Greed, 1994, p. 3). From these notions arises the premise that changes in the built environment can make a dierence. Inevitably, the former `academic' group has had less inuence than the latter `policy-oriented' group in the debate over practical solutions; the voices heard are of those whose focus has been more practical but not necessarily so critically informed. The aim of this paper is not to explore all of the questions raised for `designing out fear' by developments in the feminist literature and current debates on fear of crime. Rather, we examine the nature of the relationship between women's fear and built environments in more depth, and consider some of the conceptual, practical and political issues involved in `designing out fear'. Using women's fear as an illustration, we argue that the `designing out fear' approach is premised on simplistic notions of the fear of crime, in terms of its experience by individuals within built environments and its constitution as a social reality. 2. Method Amidst recent debates about the nature and meaning of fear of crime lies growing recognition that methodologies frequently employed have sometimes concealed more than they have revealed (Farrall et al., 1997). Despite the psycho-social complexities of the human act of committing crime, as well as those of experiencing and fearing crime, criminology and related disciplines most commonly take a positivist approach to knowledge production (Walklate, 1997) with a commitment to quantifying human behaviour. Walklate (1997) relates

this to the modernist project with which she believes criminology to be engaged: the imperative of feeding crime prevention policy with useful information. Much feminist criminological work, though critical, can also be considered to fall into the quantitative category. It is not without problems, including dierences in the denition and measurement of `fear of crime' which do not facilitate easy comparison between studies (Hale, 1996). There is no common agreement on what `fear of crime' is, but a growing awareness that it is not a xed trait that some people have and some do not (and hence something easily and accurately measured by survey questions), but rather `transitory and situational' (Fattah and Sacco, 1989, p. 211). Further epistemological and operational problems of the traditional crime survey have been raised which belie the continuing popularity of the approach (Farrall et al., 1997; Walklate, 1995; Young, 1988). Meanwhile, qualitative research has been suggested as a way in which the plurality of meanings and nuances in experience of `fear' can be explored, a challenge again rst responded to by feminists such as Valentine (1989) and Stanko (1990a), and more recently taken up more widely (Burgess, 1996; Evans et al., 1996; Hollway and Jeerson, 1997). One of the benets of a qualitative approach is that it facilitates exploration of fear of crime as multi-faceted and dynamic; an emotion which is situated in the local details of individuals' circumstances and life courses (Pain, 1997a; Hollway and Jeerson, 1997), and sensitive to spatial, temporal and social contexts. Our arguments are supported with data from two large studies of women's fear of violence, the substantive ndings of which have been published elsewhere (Koskela, 1997; Pain, 1997b). The research in Edinburgh, Scotland involved a mail questionnaire survey of 389 women followed up by 45 in depth interviews with a subsample who volunteered to participate further. Most interviews were conducted in respondents own homes and lasted between one and three hours. They were tape recorded, transcribed, coded and analysed (see Strauss and Corbin (1990) principles). The research in Helsinki, Finland is based on the Safety of Finns survey which included 666 households in Helsinki, and a separate study which included 18 in depth interviews with women. The women interviewed in Helsinki were recruited with help of the National Consumer Research Centre, which had collected a `panel' of citizens representing dierent ages and social classes willing to take part in research projects. A signicant factor was that women did not participate in the research because of their levels of fear: taking part was voluntary, but women who came did not come specically because they were fearful. The interview sessions lasted for between one and a half and two and a half hours and most of them were conducted at the interviewers oce, some in the working places of the


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participants. The interviews were tape-recorded with the permission of the participants (except for the background information which was entered on a form), and later transcribed and analysed. The dierences in location, researcher, research strategy and aspects of operationalisation mean that the two studies are not directly comparable, and we do not present them as such. We draw most material used in this paper from the qualitative interview data. In order to retain original sense, interview material is presented verbatim, with [. . .] indicating where material has been removed. The quotes from women in Helsinki are translated from Finnish.1 Both projects aimed to examine the constitution of fear of crime in the broad sense outlined above, but gave particular emphasis to its geographical aspects the importance of place and space. Our focus in this paper is narrower still, on the dimensions of women's fear which have a bearing on the built environment. We have chosen to compare the two cities for this purpose as they contain a wide range of dierent built environments. Scotland and Finland also provide contrasts in terms of street crime rates, and levels of fear of crime (insofar as surveys are able to indicate); therefore useful contexts in which to evaluate the importance of physical environments.

about being attacked by a stranger outside (Pain, 1997b). 56% of women in the mail survey reported that `poor street lighting' had increased their anxiety about sexual attack, and 36% and 37% respectively implicated `badly designed buildings/estates' and `badly placed bushes and shrubbery'. Interviews revealed not only more detail about the places which women experienced as fearful, but something of the nature of the relationship between the built environment and fear of attack. As several other studies have found, darkness, isolation and desertion are important cues of danger (Kelly, 1986; Warr, 1990; Wekerle and Whitzman, 1995; Valentine, 1990). Q: Are there any places round here which would worry you? If I was out at night and walking down the Braes [main streets locally], things like that. I don't go up near Corstorphine Hill [woods and parkland] because there's nobody about whatsoever. Anywhere a bit isolated, we're okay where we are but if the houses are spaced out. (Christine, twenties, secretary, no children, Corstorphine, Edinburgh) Well quite a lot of it actually. The park, for example, that's never safe. And down at the shops here, especially at night. And The Gunner [pub] that should be closed down completely. There are places you sortae feel safe, like Davidson Mains [nearby village], but then you've got to get a taxi there and back if you can aord to. (Barbara, thirties, unemployed, two children, Pilton, Edinburgh) We have a lane right next to us which I avoid when it's getting dark. Anywhere on my own, either by myself or even with my husband, if there's not much lighting there I feel very nervous. Especially with Edinburgh having so many little nooks and crannies as well, I don't feel happy about it. (Danielle, twenties, local government ocer, no children, Haymarket, Edinburgh) I used to come in from Haymarket [train] Station up Morrison Street at night and it was horrid. It's very dark and there's no houses, just big walls. You feel that if anybody stopped a car and went for you there's nothing you could do. (Paula, twenties, nurse, no children, Haymarket, Edinburgh) In Helsinki, 63% of women who participated the Safety of Finns survey reported that they found certain areas of the city unpleasant or frightening, and 44% said there were certain places in their daily environment they nd unpleasant or frightening to walk in, especially in the evenings. The most frightening places were identied

3. Women's experiences of fear within the built environment 3.1. The association of risk with particular environments High rates of fear of violent crime in public space are evident in the Edinburgh survey: over two thirds of women reported being `very worried' or fairly worried'
1 Both studies were carried out from a feminist standpoint. However, the Edinburgh study was carried out earlier than the Helsinki research and, reecting a broader shift in the literature in the 1990s, the former set out to measure women's fear of attack, while the Helsinki research also had an explicit focus on boldness and condence. In both studies the interviewers were women, which is widely considered to be ethically desirable in researching violence against women (Hanmer and Saunders, 1984) as well as operationally advantageous in encouraging women to disclose their experiences (albeit fostering an intimacy which may be open to exploitation see Kelly, 1990). However, dierences of age, class, race and, in the Scottish research, nationality between the researchers and interviewees may lead to problems in interpreting language and meaning. In both cases the aim in analysis was to minimise this problem through awareness, the use of critical friends, representing women's views and experiences as honestly as possible, and where appropriate by indicating their diversity. All quotes from interviews in the Finnish research have been translated from tapes transcribed in Finnish, which means `double-translation': interpreting the feelings women expressed in interviews and re-translating them in English. The aim has been to sustain the original expressions and tones as honestly as possible, for example, by sustaining changes of active and passive voice.

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as forests, parks, recreation areas and paths, followed by stations and shopping centres, and underpasses, tunnels, bridges and cellars (Koskela and Tuominen, 1995). The interviews verify this: Q: What do you think makes the dierence; why some places are more unpleasant? I think the streets where there are only apartments and no display windows or other well-lit places are the most frightening ones. (Paula, twenties, sales secretary, no children, Kannelm aki, Helsinki) I think that tunnels and such like are always nasty because they are so deserted that if something happens you cannot get help unless someone else just happens to be there. (Petra, thirties, nursery teacher, one child, Ruoholahti, Helsinki) I've sometimes taken a bus from Merihaka [two level concrete housing area]. When you walk down the stairs the place is oppressive. It is so massive and there is an echo and the cars make a terrible noise. (Elisa, thirties, student, no children, Tapaninvainio, Helsinki) I hate Vihdintie [main street locally] in Haaga. It's so wide and the blocks of ats are so far from the street and there are no balconies. There's nothing human about the street. There's heavy trac and the street lights are so far from each other that there are dark spots in between. [...] It's like no-man's land. (Hanna, thirties, printing worker, no children, Haaga, Helsinki) Women were not treated as a single category in either study, and the salience of age, class, motherhood, disability and sexuality to women's concerns about attack provided important dimensions of the research (Pain, 1997b; Koskela, 1997, 1999). In presenting quotes from women who took part in the research, we include details about their social background including age, occupation, whether they have children, and their area of residence within each city. However, in the Edinburgh study (carried out in three sharply contrasting social areas), social class did not inuence how likely women were to express fear of being attacked in public space, although poorer women were signicantly more likely to worry about domestic violence (Pain, 1997b). Social class had no apparent eect on how likely women were to perceive built environments as unsafe; all women highlighted certain local residential and public spaces where they feared attack. Equally there were no significant dierences by age, ability, or whether women had children or not. In the Helsinki study, women's life histories and experiences seemed to have more impact

on their levels of fear than their social background. For example, all the women who had experienced violence, either in public or private space, were more fearful than those who only had experiences of minor harassment (Koskela, 1999). Ageing and having children seemed to make women somewhat more concerned about their environments. Studies in both cities conrm, then, that the physical situation of fear in particular built environments is mentioned frequently in women's accounts, and appears on rst sight to act as an important `cue' to fear of attack. However, rather than accepting this relationship at face value we want to investigate it more closely: it does not necessarily invite the conclusion that altering built environments will have much impact on these or other women's fear of attack. We argue, rstly, that there are practical imperatives for casting some doubt on the `designing out fear' approach. 3.2. Practical barriers to `designing out fear' A key question here is whether the built environment has a fundamental role in inuencing women's fear, or whether its eect is underlain by processes which originate elsewhere. Few commentators have suggested anything other than the latter that public places are only the most visible location in which certain concerns are expressed. Fears about attack may be transferred onto specic environments which become markers of unsafety, but this does not mean that they cause or produce fear. Below, we present evidence to support this argument in four sections. First, that fear is spatially pervasive and there are many contrasts in the environments in which women fear attack. Second, we examine the relationships between social and physical space more closely, and thirdly we note the importance of the reputation of places in contributing to fearfulness. Four, we explore women's contrasting responses to the idea of `designing out fear' in the two cities. 3.2.1. Contrasts in the environments in which women fear attack Both cities contain striking contrasts in the environments with which women associate fear. In Edinburgh, there were contrasts between the quietness of some areas versus the number of people and noisiness of others; between poor street lighting in some places making women fearful of what they cannot see, and brightness in others blamed for allowing potential attackers to see their victims; between the lack of surveillance and privacy engendered by gaps between houses, large gardens and open spaces in auent suburbs, versus the claustrophobic nature of dense buildings and narrow alleys and closes in Edinburgh city centre and the peripheral housing schemes. And yet almost all of the women interviewed


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who live in and use these diverse built environments identify them as places in which they feel at risk. Helsinki has a very dierent built environment, more uniform and open than the varying and often much older styles of architecture in Edinburgh. Most parts of Helsinki date from the twentieth century; there are many squares and boulevards, and most streets are wide and open. One exception is the concrete post-war housing areas with tunnels and bridges, such as Merihaka and It aPasila, which provide some similar environmental features to Edinburgh's council schemes. On the whole, Helsinki is a much greener city, with urban parks in the centre and forest parks around the suburbs and outskirts. Green urban spaces and woodlands are commonly perceived as dangerous places and feelings of insecurity often have a deterrent eect on women's use of them (Burgess, 1996, 1998; Madge, 1997). In both Helsinki and Edinburgh women also associate fear of violence with these non-built semi-natural environments: I wouldn't like to walk through St. Margaret's Park, I wouldn't even consider doing that. I wouldn't even do it during the day if it was very quiet. (Irene, forties, technician, adult children, Corstorphine, Edinburgh) There is a bit along that railway line there, that is the way I would have to walk if I walked home from my work. But I don't do it. And again it's because it's dark along that bit and then you go up the side of the Forestry Commission [woodland] onto the main road. So I just, you know, I don't put myself into the position if I can avoid it. (Rosalind, fties, administrator, no children, Corstorphine, Edinburgh) I wouldn't go for hill walks and things like that on my own. And things like walking along the canal bank, it sounds very nice, but you are very isolated. (Myra, forties, dental nurse, two children, Corstorphine, Edinburgh) I say I wouldn't go to the Central Park [large woodland] at night without my dog. I can walk along Mannerheimintie [main street] but not into the woods. I think it would be like asking for trouble. (Veera, twenties, waitress, no children, Pikku-Huopalahti, Helsinki) I wouldn't go to Kaisaniemi park [in the city centre] at night, preferably not even during day-time. At night I wouldn't go to any park. (Riikka, twenties, translator, no children, Siltam aki, Helsinki) If I need to walk through a park I prefer to use the completely dark paths because it makes me less vis-

ible for potential attackers. (Viivi, twenties, student, o  lo , Helsinki) no children, To The fact that women were living in various neighbourhoods within the two cities with very dierent built environments made no dierence to the likelihood of their reporting fear of attack, or identifying certain aspects of the built environment which frightened them. Fig. 1 illustrates this point, showing that fear may be attached to spaces which appear to contrast: both empty and crowded spaces, and both open and closed spaces. Despite the dierent physical environments within and between Edinburgh and Helsinki, most women in both cities mention fearful places in all these categories. There are few types of built environment, or particular features, which are not mentioned by at least some women. This tends to conrm that it is fear of attack which comes rst and becomes expressed in particular settings. This is not to imply that fear is an essential quality of being female, and that women are simply afraid of anything, anywhere we return to the social construction of fear in the second half of the paper. The argument for preventing fear through environmental design does not rest on the suggestion that it is unique properties of built spaces which create fear; just that, as fear is attached to these properties, it provides a good site in which to have some practical impact upon it (Oc and Tiesdell, 1997). In a similar vein, feminist geographers and architects have argued that man-made built environments tend to reproduce women's fear (Matrix, 1984; Valentine, 1989; Women's Design Service, 1988), and hence intervention may reduce it. We would argue that this still overstates the inuence of the built environment on fear of crime. 3.2.2. The relationship between social and physical space It is evident from many women's accounts that it is the social connotations attached to places which make them fearful, as the examples below illustrate. Such `social cues' have been recognised as more important

Fig. 1. Categories of space which women associate with fear of attack in Helsinki and Edinburgh.

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than the design itself (Painter, 1989; Warr, 1990). In fact, women rarely mention one (physical) without the other (social), and the social often oers the explanation as to why some physical places are especially frightening. Particular places tend to become labelled by individuals, or more often, between groups of women, often because of incidents actually having happened there. I don't walk around feeling nervous, but at the same time I am aware that, if you're by yourself, especially as the streets are quite dark there's an alleyway to the delicatessen and I use a shortcut which I really shouldn't but I do, and there's the carpark where I got ashed at so I am aware that something might happen cos it's not as well lit as it could be. (Ann, twenties, teacher, no children, Haymarket, Edinburgh) Q: Are there any areas you avoid? Subconsciously, yes. I mean I don't think `gosh that's a place I'd never go,' but I would tend to plan my routes around better lit areas rather than anything else. And areas where there's not likely to be about twenty yobs who've failed to score coming out at one time. (Elaine, forties, bank manager, no children, Haymarket, Edinburgh) Er, I think Muirhouse, West Granton [local council estates], because of the tunnels. There's drug addicts, weird drug addicts and everything. You see them if you go across the street to the shops, you see them having their ghts. (Moira, sixties, nurse, no children, Pilton, Edinburgh) When I walk through an archway to our yard it's a rather unpleasant alley and I don't know what's at the other end. Someone could be hiding in a niche there. [...] Walking along the street, when passing this park with bushes your imagination starts to run wild. You think that someone might come, that someone might hide there looking at you. (Nadja, forties, secretary, no children, Alppila, Helsinki) I wouldn't even think about it [going jogging alone]. I've seen so many ashers in Laajasalo [suburb in Eastern Helsinki] that I really don't feel like going. (Jenni, twenties, unemployed, lives with parents, Laajasalo, Helsinki) And maybe you're afraid of the wrong things. In big cities where there's quite a hubbub and terrible murders and assaults happen you just go around cool-headed, but in the middle of a forest you start thinking that there might be some maniac coming

from behind a tree. (Petra, thirties, nursery teacher, one child, Ruoholahti, Helsinki) Space is not viewed in a social vacuum, and indeed it is meaningless to consider the social and physical properties of space as dichotomous. For example, street lighting alters the social as well as physical character of the space, suggesting that it is well ordered and controlled, making potential victims visible to others and increasing the number of onlookers (Painter, 1989, 1992). A subway provokes fear because it provides places for attackers to hide unseen. A quiet and deserted town centre might provoke fear because of another essentially social quality (the absence of people). Likewise, women's routine avoidance of particular places is largely underpinned not by fear of concrete structures but by fear of unknown men. Even the darkness of the night itself, a `natural' element of environmental difference frequently implicated in the fear of crime, is socially mediated. In Helsinki, for example, summer nights only become slightly dusky, whereas during the winter darkness comes early in the afternoon. Nevertheless, women tend to perceive summer and winter nights as equally dangerous: in winter, because of fears of attackers hiding in the darkness, and in summer, because the warmer temperatures mean there are more people around and make it easier to lurk in parks and forests. What makes women cautious is the social night': what is going on and how others behave in particular places. 3.2.3. The reputation of places Some places are feared not because of their built fabric, but because they hold a certain reputation amongst women. Such images of place are central in decisions about which areas are best avoided (Gardner, 1990; Smith, 1985; Valentine, 1992), and again, it is the social aspects of place which contribute to these images. For some places, it may be well publicised attacks on women which label them as unsafe for some time afterwards, for others simply a general consensus that they are `bad' or `rough' areas. The post-war, low income housing estates in both Helsinki and Edinburgh are cited by several women in each city as unsafe. Aspects of their design simply reinforce their (sometimes unfounded) reputation as locations where women are more likely to be attacked. You subconsciously avoid certain places, not necessarily because you would be afraid but because you've got an unpleasant image of them. (Minna, twenties, waitress, no children, Olari, Helsinki [Metropolitan Area]) I try to avoid the surroundings of the [main] railway station, but it's mainly because I've read about it,


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that it's the most dangerous area. (Nadja, forties, secretary, no children, Alppila, Helsinki) Myllypuro [suburb in Eastern Helsinki] the name makes my hair curl. I think about the child murders and other crimes. But it's very much based on things I've heard. (Manta, twenties, nursery assistant, pregnant, Roihuvuori, Helsinki) It would generally be at night time, anywhere. Um or areas of the high rise ats like Wester Hailes [council estate]. (Olivia, thirties, midwife, two children, Corstorphine, Edinburgh) Well roundabout here obviously it's the Meadows [open space], there's no way I would cross the Meadows either early in the morning or late at night. (Yvonne, twenties, student, no children, Haymarket, Edinburgh) Q: Where do you get information about rape from? Um women's magazines, newspapers, things like that. Then generally you know discussing it with yourselves and that. I mean a good example is `oh how do you get to such and such' and it's `well don't go that way but if you go this way,' you know. (Danielle, twenties, local goverment ocer, no children, Haymarket, Edinburgh) Although, as stressed earlier, the majority of the women interviewed in both cities discussed particular built environments in which they felt unsafe, the dangerous reputations which some places acquire clearly aects some women more directly than others (Valentine 1990). In the Edinburgh research, low-income housing schemes such as Pilton and Wester Hailes were widely referred to as dangerous neighbourhoods, but only the women who lived there had to negotiate this social danger daily. In Helsinki the Eastern suburbs, part of which are low-income housing areas with a high amount of refugees living there, clearly had a bad reputation. This also reects the picture that crime statistics give quite well, although the `topography of fear' seems to be sharper than that of crime (Koskela and Tuominen, 1995). 3.2.4. Women's reactions to the idea of `designing out fear' Much research has aimed to evaluate the eect of particular initiatives, largely through the use of questionnaire surveys and inferences about the links with fear of crime. The two projects reported here provided the opportunity to explore women's feelings and beliefs about the potential of changes to the built environment

to reduce their fear of attack. Until such changes are actually made in one's local area, it is dicult to predict their eect. However, dierences between the two cities stand out. Generally, women in Edinburgh responded very negatively to the idea of designing out fear, most feeling that the threat of attack was more pervasive than could be tackled by altering the built environment alone. While they disliked dark places, several women interviewed were particularly doubtful about the eect of schemes to improve street lighting. I think there should be better lighting in some places but that said, the places that aren't properly lit are really places where I wouldn't consider walking anyway. (Deborah, twenties, engineer, no children, Pilton, Edinburgh) In some areas we do need more lighting. Q: Would that make you feel safer? Not really because I think it's going to happen anyway. Alleyways where there's no housing, denitely I wouldn't want to walk down, even with lights. (Christine, twenties, secretary, no children, Corstorphine, Edinburgh) The stair's revolting, that, revolting. The lighting's really bad on the stairs as well. The archways, the tunnels is terrible, you ken. But I'm no too happy walking anywhere to be honest. (Shirley, thirties, factory worker, two children, Pilton, Edinburgh) In Helsinki, the women interviewed were more likely to feel that alterations to the environment of frightening places would at least make them more pleasant, if not always less worrying. Q: What do you think would make cities less frightening? That other cities would be as well lit as Helsinki. (Elisa, thirties, student, no children, Tapaninvainio, Helsinki) To build them open and not closed in. [...] And places with lots of green are not frightening. (Susanna, twenties, nurse, no children, Meilahti, Helsinki) I think it's clear that if there were more pedestrian streets in Helsinki you wouldn't be so much afraid. There would always be people around. And even if the street wouldn't be wider it would feel more open without cars. (Maria, twenties, student, no children, Hakaniemi, Helsinki)

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I think it was nice that the shopping centre was renovated. I think it feels much more pleasant. It matters that it is better lit and more open. (Helena, thirties, children's nurse, one child, Laajasalo, Helsinki) The dierences in reactions between the cities is perhaps partly explained by fear of attack being less of a problem generally for the women in Helsinki than those in the Edinburgh study. In Helsinki, women were more likely to regard male violence as an unpleasant accident rather than an inevitable risk in everyday life, partly owing to lower rates of violence in the city (and Finland generally compared with the UK), and partly to the more pleasant built environments in Helsinki, as described earlier (see Koskela and Tuominen, 1995, Pain, 1997b). It may also relate to dierences in gender equality and independent mobility of women (Koskela, 1997). It is also worth noting that crime prevention initiatives to alter built environments have scarcely been attempted anywhere in Finland, while women in Edinburgh have rst hand experience of at least some improvement schemes. Whichever explanation is accepted, the ndings emphasise the point that while environmental design is implicated in feelings of safety, it is not the only nor the most important element. 4. The constitution of fear as a social reality So far we have discussed practical issues which limit the eectiveness of `designing out fear' in the case of women's fear of violence. To support these arguments, from a feminist standpoint and drawing on the broader literature, we next focus briey on some of the political and theoretical issues involved. How is women's fear constituted at the broader level of social and political relations? What relevance do these arguments have generally to women's experiences of fear in dierent environments and to eorts to `design out fear' in particular? 4.1. The grounding of fear in risk Many fear reduction strategies have treated fear not as directly connected to or informed by experience of crime, but as a separate problem (Home Oce, 1989). By contrast, left realist criminologists such as Crawford et al. (1990) have argued that high levels of fear can be justied by actual crime rates when the `dark gure' of unreported crime is taken into account. Both positions are variants on the `risk management' approach to fear of crime, in which risk and behaviour are assumed to be directly and unproblematically related, an assumption which has recently been challenged (Sparks, 1992; Walklate, 1995, 1997). Increasingly, the relationships between crime, risk, perception and fear are being problematised (Ferraro, 1995; Pain, 1997c). For Walk-

late (1997), gender blindness lies at the heart of previously assumed relationships between risk and victimisation. Women's and men's relations to violence can be directly compared only if it is assumed that they experience violence equally and react similarly, which is often not the case (Tiby, 1991). Rape, for example, is perceived to be both extremely serious and relatively likely (Warr, 1985) and is feared far more by women than men. `Risk' in this context is not a place-specic calculation of possible harm, but a deep-rooted constituent of individual identity (Stanko, 1997). However, feminists have also argued that hidden violence has a part in explaining why women appear paradoxically fearful, given that the risks of attack appear low from most victimisation surveys (Stanko, 1987). Both popular discussions about women's fear and academic discourses commonly constitute it as a problem of public space and strangers, but most incidents take place within the domestic sphere (Hanmer and Saunders, 1984; Valentine, 1992). Rape and sexual assault are amongst the most under reported of crimes. While even the highest estimates of the extent of violence against women are unlikely to be `enough' to explain women's fear alone (Pain, 1997c), women's knowledge from rst and second hand experiences of sexual attack as well as, for some, their `tacit understanding of the likelihood of experiencing male violence and the lack of protection they receive from those around them' (Stanko, 1987: 131), all play a role in the constitution of fear. In addition, while only a violent criminal is generally considered worthy of being afraid of, sexual harassment and other non-criminal street violence provide an important example of social processes forging fear in particular contexts (Junger, 1987; Painter, 1992), as some of the interview material used here has suggested. For some feminists, fear will be altered through environmental design only where improvements tackle these actual risks of violence and abuse to women, as well as their fearfulness (Valentine, 1990; Women's Design Service, 1988). However, it is doubtful how far environmental changes can reduce attacks on women. First, the majority of these violent incidents take place not in the public realm but in private and semi-private spaces, especially the home. Second, `designing out fear' is underpinned by the assumption that most crime is opportunistic and that oenders respond in a mechanistic way to environmental stimuli (Walklate, 1989), in contrast to which violence against women is often regular, systematic and based on deep-rooted social inequalities (Dobash and Dobash, 1992). However, the spatial and social dimensions of sexual violence the `where' and `why' criticisms do not preclude planning for safety in public spaces, so long as anti-domestic attacks programmes are given greater publicity and nance simultaneously. Despite these caveats, some research has shown that it is possible to create safer


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spaces for women in particular public places (Wekerle and Whitzman, 1995). 4.2. The long term development of fear As we discussed earlier, and as many architects and planners are beginning to take on board, the relationship between physical, objective space and its social and psychological dimensions is very complex and constantly changing (Madanipour, 1996). Proponents of strategies to `design out crime' justify them by asserting that the outcome stage of oenders' decision-making being highly inuenced by situational factors (Clarke, 1992). The fear of crime of potential victims works in a very dierent way; fear can hardly be conceptualised as `opportunistic', yet similar mechanistic connections are made. There is no conscious or subconscious decision to be fearful in particular environments based on rational assessments of risk, as runs the argument for criminals' behaviour. Rather, fear is a cumulative process developing over a long time period, which is aected by and responds to a whole range of social and personal experiences (Goodey, 1995; Hollway and Jeerson, 1997; Stanko, 1990a; Valentine, 1992). The many `breakings' which contribute to condence and fear (Koskela, 1997) such as moving house, motherhood, ageing, bereavement, threatening incidents are social and subjective experiences which are not restricted to certain spaces. In both the Helsinki and Edinburgh studies, such important life changes were likely to have inuenced the respondents' feelings of security. The complex construction of fear of crime predestines how we come to particular places, already with strong ideas about our risks of criminal attack: fear of crime inuences the meaning of place, as much as places inuence fear. In other words, what is being `solved' by `designing out fear' strategies (at least, in the studies which show positive results) is only one immediate and visible dimension of the problem of urban fear. As our research suggests, if one type of place in which some women feel fearful (a dark subway) is not encountered by other women, then for the latter women another place will become locally associated with fear. Importantly, attaching fear to particular places is one way of coping: Woman cannot be fearful of all men all the time, therefore in order to maintain an illusion of control over their safety they need to know where and when they may encounter `dangerous men' in order to avoid them. (Valentine, 1989, p. 171) 4.3. Gendered power relations and gendered fear Many commentators have viewed fear of crime as linked to broader concerns and insecurities (Hale, 1996).

Feminists have argued strongly that women's fear of crime is both a product of and reinforces their social position; ``it is the very structure of women's lives that continually places them at risk of danger'' (Stanko, 1990b, p. 149). For poorer women, material factors such as lower incomes and lack of private transport put them at additional risk from violence and from fear (Painter, 1992), and women who are lesbian, members of ethnic minority groups or who have disabilities may also report higher levels of fear (Crawford et al., 1990; Pain, 1997b; Stanko, 1990a). As a result, women's fear of violence is normalised. As Garland (1996) asserts, crime and its avoidance are now an accepted part of everyday life. Feminist accounts have long drawn parallel arguments centring on the routinisation of women's fear (Stanko, 1987, Painter, 1992; Valentine, 1989), suggesting that crime prevention policy tends to capitalise on and reinforce this notion of normalisation (Stanko, 1990b, 1997). At the very least, the notion of normalisation supports the criticism that `designing out fear' presents a particular conceptualisation of fear, not as deep-seated and ingrained, but as situational and thus at least partially resolvable by environmental change.

5. Conclusions Q: What would make you feel safer? All the rogues being shot, like [laughs]. No you can't do that because there would be nobody left would there. I don't know. I don't think there is anything that would be kind of any safer. Nah, nah. Apart from maybe being in a wee fortress kind of thing. (Jeanette, thirties, machinist, four children, Pilton, Edinburgh) In our comparison of Helsinki and Edinburgh we have shown that the physical situation of fear of attack is mentioned frequently in women's accounts in both cities; that there are wide contrasts in the environments feared, within and between the two cities; and that in both cities it is the social nature of these dierent places which provokes fear, including the reputation of places as dangerous or safe. Women in Edinburgh respond negatively to the idea of designing out fear, perhaps because of higher levels of violence in Scotland, and greater familiarity with such initiatives compared with women in Helsinki to whom the idea is fairly new. Although making direct comparisons of the ndings of two separately conducted qualitative studies is not without its pitfalls, the results discussed here from two cities which are contrasting in physical and social

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environments for women (and each of which contains much physical and social diversity), lend support to the main argument of this paper. Environmental solutions to fear of crime are attractive. Yet the example of women's fear shows clearly some of the practical and conceptual conicts and difculties of amelioration through environmental improvements. Some of our arguments here are not new. We have sought to restate them in light of the continuing prominence of this paradigm in this area; a prominence which is paradoxical given the complexity of fear of crime, as is increasingly bring drawn out in the geographical and criminological literatures and recent developments in feminist theory. This is not to vilify all such schemes. Changes do appear to have reduced fear of crime in certain contexts, though their proponents have never naively suggested that amelioration can be more than local or partial (Herbert and Davidson, 1994). As part of a broader planning approach to revitalise town and city centres and make them friendlier, greener, more attractive places for business, consumers and residents (Oc and Tiesdell, 1997), attempts to design out fear may have a whole range of other benecial effects. However, what might be expected of such changes needs to be kept in more perspective. Policy imperatives have tended to lead theory and research, rather than theory informing policy. In the UK, there have been strong political imperatives for linking community safety so closely to the built environment; in the UK this popular crime prevention strategy derives from 1980s political ideology which sought to shift focus away from social and political causes of crime (Gilling, 1997; Heal, 1992; Tilley, 1993; Walklate, 1989). In Finland the whole issue of safety on the streets has emerged much more recently, and there has been little discussion of `designing out fear' as yet. Instead of following a UK/North American trend which developed from certain political beginnings, it is important for other countries to learn from the mistakes as well as the successes, rather than developing women's safety strategies based on myths of stranger rapists in public space, to whom `faults' in the built environment lend otherwise unavailable opportunities to attack. Geographers and planners should take greater account of the complexity of fear; on this issue as many others social and physical space cannot be separated. Places may have some inuence on fear, but perhaps of equal or greater signicance is the ways in which fear shapes our understanding, perception and use of space and place. Feminist politics inform us that gendered power relations are key to women's fear. Many women empower themselves through their own negotiation of danger, but crime prevention policies, be they in the form of behavioural advice, rape alarms, or redesigned streets, have rarely done so.

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