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Department of Geography


Exploring the links between the geographies of crime and health


We are undertaking research on how peoples’ health and day-to-day lives are affected by crime at the local area or neighbourhood level – as a result of either being a victim of crime or fear of crime. This work is a postgraduate research project, directed by Su-Yin Tan at the University of Cambridge and financed by grants from the Department of Geography and Gates Cambridge Trust.

A postal questionnaire survey entitled, “How does Crime affect Our Health and Quality of Life?” has been distributed to selected neighbourhoods in Sheffield. The aim of this study is to explore the impact of the experience and fear of crime on health. Findings from this study will provide information necessary for encouraging service partnerships between health and crime prevention agencies, as well as better informing health policy and practice.

Information for survey respondents

A questionnaire has been distributed to selected neighbourhoods in Sheffield. The 6-page questionnaire should take about 10-15 minutes to complete. When possible, the survey should be answered by the head of household. Please return the completed questionnaire in the stamped return-addressed envelope provided in the mail-out package.

Note that answers provided will be held in strict confidence and individual responses will not be disclosed. Confidentiality is ensured, as all answers from returned questionnaires will be combined to produce a summary statistical report.


Questionnaires were posted to selected neighbourhoods in Sheffield on March 1 to 10, 2006. If you have not already completed and returned the questionnaire, please do so by April 10, 2006, so that your answers can be included in the survey results. If you have lost the questionnaire, please contact us and another copy will be mailed to you.

Contact details

Please return completed questionnaires to:

Su-Yin Tan
Department of Geography
University of Cambridge
Downing Place
Cambridge CB2 3EN


Phone: 07709183132 (available 5-6 p.m., Mon-Wed)

Project background

Crime has significant impacts on health. Therefore, crime constitutes an important public health issue and raises the demand for health services.

However, both fields of public health and criminology have developed largely independently of one another at the research and policy level. It remains that the links between crime and health status are not fully understood, especially in different geographical contexts. While the notion of crime as a serious threat to the health of individual victims and communities is intuitively understandable, the difficulty lies in quantifying the impact, while taking into account the importance of other influential variables (i.e. gender, ethnicity, geography, social class, employment status). Furthermore, problems with defining ‘crime’ and ‘public health’, combined with difficulties of quantifying and assessing risk further complicate any analysis of causal relationships between crime and health.

The aim of this study is to enhance current understanding of the impact of crime on health and quality of life and to explore how this relationship varies at different geographical scales. The adopted research approach involves analysing the relationship at national and regional scales. Quantitative methods of spatial data analysis are based on aggregated (ecological) secondary data drawn from census and crime databases. The methodology adopted for this project is based on the collection and analysis of quantitative data within a spatial context, thus emphasising the importance of reliable statistical data on which health and criminal justice programmes can be effectively planned. The research also involves an individual questionnaire study based on selected neighbourhoods in Sheffield with the purpose of exploring the relationship at the individual scale of analysis.

Major findings

Information will be available on-line shortly.