|dc.description.abstract||Crime contains a spatial dimension. Everybody agrees that some areas are more stigmatised by the problem than other. Areas which particularly experience crime itself as well as its consequences are cities. This mostly applies to big cities, though it must be noted that within their limits there are areas which are more exposed to crime than other.
This dissertation belongs to the field of the geography of crime which even though relating to the output of the American school of social ecologists is a relatively young academic subdiscipline. More extensive research has been introduced in the 1970s, while in Poland only in the last few years. The subject of its interest is constantly evolving and covers newly identified dimensions of the phenomenon of crime. When studying crime, researchers attempt to explain: (i) the phenomenon of concentration of criminal behaviours within some areas of the space, (ii) the problem of how to shape and monitor space in order to limit the number of criminal events which occur in it, and (iii) how social and political changes influence the level of the fear of crime. For the purpose of this dissertation, I developed a plan of implementing as comprehensive as possible research into crime which occurs within the city. Therefore, I decided to conduct an as wide as possible range of empirical studies founded on a multidisciplinary theoretical basis. I used two main sources of information, i.e. police statistics and surveys. The former were necessary to identify the scale of the phenomenon of crime within the spatial framework in relation to both exposed and unexposed crime. This was also a chance to produce a general characterisation of the group of offenders and their victims. Using surveys, on the other hand, I was able to measure the qualitative dimension of crime raising such issues as the perception of existing threats or reactions and behaviour related to the functioning within the spatial and social environment marked by crime. An important aim of the study was to capture the relations between such research directions.
The subject of this study are two categories of crime (exposed, i.e. recorded in police statistics and the so-called unexposed, i.e. the grey number of crime estimated through victimisation research) viewed within the Łódź space, as well as the sense of security viewed at the local level (but also at the level of the entire city and the country). They result from the general goals adopted for the analysis of the spatial diversification of crime and police events which occurred in Łódź in 2006-2010 and the attitudes of the inhabitants towards the sense of security expressed in 2010 surveys. On of the major tasks was also to define the relations between recorded crime, the results of victimisation research and individual components of the sense of security. Another important subject considered in the dissertation are the theoretical foundations for studying crime. It is related to an important aim of the dissertation, i.e. to specify the directions of research and research problems inherent to crime within city space.
The spatial dimension of the dissertation is the area of Łódź within its official administrative limits. The city is characteristic for its unique conditions of historical development in Poland (it was a result of an extremely dynamic development during the industrial revolution of the 19th c.). It plays an important role in the settlement and economic system of the country. It possesses a significant demographic and social potential (with highly individualistic features of inhabitant structures), but also an economic potential, related to its economic functions. Many of the processes observed by Łódź geographers within the demographic, social and economic fields of the city possess their own spatial dimensions which display high individualisation when compared to other Polish cities. Researchers have also indicated that it is in Łódź where some tendencies, processes and phenomena occur earlier than in other cities and parts of Poland. In such instances, the city was considered as a prototype, serving as an example for creating more general models. Therefore, the following hypotheses were verified using the example of Łódź: (i) general distribution of crime within a city starts with the highest values in the city centre and gradually decreases towards city limits. However, spatial distribution of specific crime types may deviate from the model, i.e. specific crime types reveal different distribution patterns than crime in general and they tend to concentrate around different areas of the city, (ii) an important factor for the respondents' sense of security is the type of residential urban development they occupy. Also demographic and social and economic features of the respondents are essential determinants of their attitudes, (iii) the sense of security is mostly influenced by global fears, not real threats present locally, (iv) the sense of security of the inhabitants at the level of the entire city depends to a lesser extent on the scope of crime recorded by the police. In other words, the perception of dangerous areas within a city remains loosely connected to the level of exposed crime.
I ventured to illustrate the relations between crime and its consequences and the spatial framework within which I studied it. It appears that the spatial dimension is an important discriminatory factor. Thus, one cannot talk about a uniform Poland in terms of intensification of crime and a city uniform in this respect. Just like the differences between individual provinces, the differences between cities of similar sizes are significant. And the scale of disparity between individual areas within a city is just as visible. In the course of the study, I have indicated that crime itself measured according to the number or the intensity of offences is diverse within the space. Individual components of the sense of security also possess diverse spatial dimensions. Respondents residing in different types of residential urban developments were found to present different opinions highlighting different types of problems present within their residential environment and the scale of the problems may also vary. Thus, emotional and behavioural reactions are generally redundant for the studied respondent groups. Also the demographic specificity of the respondents, their views or their social and professional status substantially discriminate their attitudes towards the threats to their security. The most important demographic characteristics discriminating their attitudes towards the threat of crime are sex and age of respondents. Also the level of education and political inclinations were very important factors for their opinions, motivations and behaviour which I illustrate several times throughout the dissertation. The Łódź study shows that people who are most afraid of crime are not the most common victims. In fact, people who are not afraid of crime, who, as a result, are less alert, become much easier targets.
Many studies, including the discussed one, have stressed the irrational foundation of the feeling of fear and dread. This assumption stems also from the analysis of the relations of the high sense of threat of crime in Polish cities (when compared to the sense of security in western cities) when compared to the scope of recorded crime. In reality, it is in Polish cities where fewer offences are recorded. I have proved the same claim in this dissertation indicating the differences between the scale of threat according to police statistics and the sense of security of the inhabitants within a scale related to both, the area of residence of the respondents and the entire city. I have found extensive disparity between the recorded and perceived threats. I have also indicated existing relations between the attitudes expressed through the assessment of the area of residence as a dangerous place and elevated assessment of the threat to the security both in Poland and throughout the city. Using victimisation research, I was able, though, to define the relations between the sense of threat and crime. However, those relations are true together with the intensity of the exposed grey number of offences. In other words, by knowing only the level of the sense of security within a specific area, one can only presume the actual extent of crime present there. Thus, the perceived victimisation threat is generated by the threat which actually exists within a given space, which the inhabitants know from their own direct (unfortunately) experience or indirect accounts. In view of this, it is necessary for future studies to utilise more extensively studies of the actual extent of crime based on victimisation studies. Using police statistics in social opinion research creates considerable interpretative problems which may lead to incorrect conclusions. Social attitudes are more closely related to the actual extent of misdemeanours, offences and crime within the area of residence. This does not mean that one should not analyse crime based on police statistics. Such inferences may be very helpful for the general identification of problem areas threatened by crime and they offer a means for establishing offender profiles. They are very important as they are useful for activities aimed at fighting crime (i.e. one needs to know where and when it is necessary to apply efforts and whom to consider for preventive actions). Therefore, it is necessary to use sources of information on crime relevant for the specific subject of study.
Even though this dissertation covered a very large range of study problems and I attempted to present a coherent and comprehensive approach to solving them, I believe one of the important conclusions which can be drawn from it is the bringing to light of many study problems which require further research and solutions. Additionally, one can define several new study areas which should be investigated. The perspective of researching and attempting to solve the local micro-scale problems – of specific places, neighbourhoods and communities – seems particularly interesting.||pl_PL