Violent crime ‘cuts walking rate’
Wednesday 4th September 2013, 12:10AM BST.
Violent crime in England is having a direct impact on the amount people are walking, according to research.
The study examined the data of nearly a million adults living across more than 300 local authority areas in England.
The researchers compared that with recorded crime statistics over a six-year period for “violent crime with injury”, which includes murder, manslaughter, knife attacks and aggravated assault.
The study, led jointly by academics at the University of Bristol, Imperial College and Monash University in Australia, focused on whether someone’s safety concerns affected their decision to go for a walk.
The team also looked at the impact of the 2011 riots in England, which led to a sudden increase in crime, on physical activity.
The study took into account the weather, socio-demographic factors and the physical features of the area.
The findings revealed that with an increase in violent crime in a local area from 25% to 75% there was a reduction of 4% in the number of days people walked for at least 30 minutes over a four-week period.
This would have the same effect on people’s decision to take a walk as a 6C drop in average minimum temperature, the study found.
The main negative effect of an increase in violent crime was on non-leisure walking, such as walking to work.
An increase in crime was shown to have a larger impact on older post-retirement age adults and those without access to a car.
The research discovered that the biggest adverse effect was shown to be women’s response to the 2011 riots as they reduced their physical activities – excluding walking – by 30%.
In contrast, men were found to increase their physical activity.
The researchers said this “gender effect” fits with a similar study in Mexico that found that in response to violent crime, women took steps to avoid the crime, while men appeared to “man up” and went out more.
Professor Carol Propper, from the University of Bristol, said: “These findings demonstrate the wider consequences of crime in society and the impact this has on adults’ participation in physical activity such as walking.
“These findings are important as policies that help reduce the amount of violent crime in society can have positive effects well beyond the direct effects of fewer victims of crime.”
- The Economic and Social Research Council-funded study analysed data on 893,075 adults in 323 local authority areas in England.