Safety

Perceptions of safety

The wellbeing of individuals may be affected not only as a result of direct experience of harm but also as a result of a fear of harm. Individuals’ perceptions of safety involves generalised judgements about the chance of injury or loss [14].

Different circumstances, times of day, and location factors tend to influence individuals’ perceptions of safety. Perceptions of safety are particularly sensitive to the physical environment (e.g., one’s home vs. public places) because these physical environmental factors are tangible to residents. Fear of crime may cause some people to restrict the choices they make about how to lead their lives, such as avoiding certain areas or avoiding going out at night [14,15]. The fear of crime may have more effect on some residents than actual crime and may have wider impacts on social relations [2].

This indicator presents the proportion of those 18 years and over reporting that they feel fairly or very safe in four different situations: being in their own home after dark, walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark, or walking in their city/town centre during the day, and the city/town centre after dark. This question was first included in the Canterbury Wellbeing Survey in 2018.

The figure shows that almost all respondents (over 90%) felt fairly safe or very safe in their own home after dark, and in the town/city centre during the day. Approximately 70 percent of respondents indicated that they felt fairly safe or very safe walking alone in their own neighbourhood after dark but less than half felt fairly safe or very safe walking in the city or town centre after dark (48.6%). The results show that different circumstances and times of day tend to influence individuals’ perceptions of safety.

The figure shows that a similar proportion of respondents felt fairly safe or very safe in their own homes after dark and in the town or city centre during the day across the three Territorial Authority areas. However, statistically significant differences in perceived safety are apparent for the two categories ‘walking alone in their own neighbourhood after dark’ (Selwyn District, 79.3%; Waimakariri District, 73.6%; Christchurch City, 65.9%) and ‘walking in the town or city centre after dark’ (Waimakariri District, 63.1%; Selwyn District, 60.5%; Christchurch City, 45.1%). Overall, perception of safety appears to be highest in Selwyn District and lowest in Christchurch City (particularly in the city centre after dark).

The figure shows perceptions of safety, by ethnicity. A similar pattern can be seen across all four situations: Māori respondents generally reported lower levels of perceived safety (proportion feeling fairly or very safe) than European and Pacific/Asian/Indian respondents (but differences generally not statistically significant). However, the figure does show a statistically significantly lower proportion of Māori respondents reporting feeling fairly or very safe when walking alone in their neighbourhood after dark compared with European respondents (58.9% and 68.2% respectively).

The figure shows a pattern of generally similar perceptions of safety for the age groups 18–24 years, 25–34 years, 35–49 years, and 60–64 years. However, respondents 65 years and over were statistically significantly less likely to report feeling fairly or very safe for the ‘outdoors after dark’ situations (such as for walking alone in neighbourhood after dark; 55.1%, 65+ years; compared with 74.3%, 35-49 years). 

The figure shows that some aspects of the context differentially influence men and women’s perceptions of safety. The results highlight women’s lower perception of safety in outdoor environments after dark (for example only 36.5% of female respondents indicated feeling fairly or very safe walking in the city/town centre after dark, compared to 61.3% of men).

The figure shows a clear positive relationship between annual household income and respondents’ perceptions of safety. The proportion of respondents feeling fairly safe or very safe in each of the four situations shown tends to increase with increasing income. In all four situations (home, neighbourhood, town/city centre after dark, and town/city centre during the day) respondents from the lowest income group (<$30,000) had statistically significantly lower levels of perceived safety compared with respondents from the highest income group ($100,000+). The income gradient is most pronounced for the category ‘walking alone in their own neighbourhood after dark’. In this category, the reported levels of perceived safety are substantially and statistically significantly different from each other, for each income group (<$30,000, 45.6%; $30,000–$60,000, 62.8%; $60,000–$100,000, 72.4%; and 100,000+, 78.9%).

The figure shows that in all four situations respondents with a long-term health condition or disability indicated statistically significantly lower levels of perceived safety, compared with respondents without a long-term health condition or disability (averaging about 10 percentage points difference across the categories).

Data Sources

Source: Canterbury District Health Board.
Survey/data set: Canterbury Wellbeing Survey to 2018. Access publicly available data from the Community and Public Health (Canterbury DHB) website www.cph.co.nz/your-health/wellbeing-survey/
Source data frequency: Annually.

View technical notes and data tables for this indicator.

Updated: 21/11/2018