Keeping people safe & well

United Way 2007 Community Builder Award for NCLB

 

EPIC Award 2007

 

Community Safety Survey 2005

Banff Avenue Community

 

Introduction

In a number of consultations with the Tenants’ Association and informal gatherings with community members, it became apparent that safety and security is a significant concern for members of the Banff/Ledbury community. The 118 units operated by Ottawa Community Housing, bounded by Ledbury Avenue to the south and Banff Avenue dissecting it through the middle, were therefore selected for a safety survey.

As easy as it may be to identify safety as a concern, adequately addressing potential solutions present a more formidable challenge. To face this challenge, this report is an analysis of the initial safety survey conducted in the community to provide baseline data for the social development and crime prevention projects in the area. The survey covers 43 households out of the 118 - a sample size of 36% of households. Community leaders were separately interviewed to clarify the collected information. Additional sources of information included one-on one interviews and Tenants’ Association meetings, where these issues are discussed on a regularly basis.

While the sample size of interviewing households (36percent)   prevents generalizations about the impact of criminal activities and other conclusions about the Banff/Ledbury community, the data stands on its own within the parameters of a safety audit of a "neighborhood", as well as providing the starting point for further research and focused intervention..

The main methodological concern was the measurement of perceptions, the accuracy of safety and crime-related beliefs and the technicalities relating to some issues such as definitions and perceptions of the term gang.  However, this survey was designed and conducted with confidence, keeping in mind that people's belief about crime, safety and security tends to bear a close relation to the material reality of the areas in which they live. (Jones, T., Maclean, B. and Young, T. (1986) The Islington Crime Survey. Aldershot, Gower.)

The Banff/Ledbury Community is confronted with many quality of life questions. Two such issues facing residents living in and around Banff community are:

1. How can the pervasive safety and security problem be addressed in the face of social and economic hardships and the stigma attached to the community’s name due to highly publicized incidents of gang activity in the past; and

2. How can the community be effectively involved in a local development and revitalization campaign?

The first issue was the subject of our community safety and security survey, needs assessment and analysis.

Methodology

Two approaches were selected to determine the nature and severity of the crime problem in the study area and in the vicinity of Ledbury and Banff.

The first approach was to survey local residents and solicit their perceptions of crime in their area, and identify trends among these responses.

The second approach is to seek specific crime data from the Ottawa Police Services as a means of determining frequencies of certain types of crime in Ledbury and Banff, if possible. A comparative analysis will be prepared upon availability of the data.

While data gleaned from incident reports will prove useful in identifying problem areas and frequently committed crimes, this survey of residents’ perceptions of crimes will enable us to target those crimes and priority concerns that have the greatest impact on the community and its members’ daily lives.

Surveys were administered to randomly selected units of Ottawa Community Housing in Ledbury and Banff, according to residents’ availability and willingness to share information.

The principal focus of the surveys was to identify crime and safety issues among residents, such as which crimes they were most concerned about, what time of day they felt most at risk, and the locations of particularly problematic areas in the neighborhood. Respondents were also asked whether they had been a victim of a crime within the community, and, if so, to indicate the type of crime and where the incident occurred.

Finally, respondents were polled regarding their involvement in the Banff Community Tenants’ Association. Respondents who were not involved in the TA were asked whether they would be interesting in joining, and whether or not this would in fact make them feel safer.

Survey results, as well as other available supporting data, are depicted in both tabular and graphic form in the following Data Analysis and Findings section. Each question from the survey (excluding those which asked for a free response of either a crime location or concern) carries responses both in absolute numbers of positive responses, as well as this number as a percentage of the total survey population.

Summary of Findings

A total of 43 surveys were completed by residents of the Banff Community. The questions were designed to gather information in a qualitative and quantitative fashion.. Specifically, we wanted to know which violent and quality of life crimes residents are most concerned about, the time of day they are most concerned about crime, and the places they feel are the most crime-ridden.

In addition, we wanted to know whether they have been the victim of a crime in the project area (along with the type and location of crime); whether they are involved in the Tenants Association (and if not, whether they would join and participate in its activities); and whether community initiatives would make them feel safer. We have included the raw number of responses as well as the percentage score for each question answered affirmatively. A sample copy of the survey is available in the Appendix 1.

Breakdown of Surveyed Residents

Table 1. Break down of the 43 Residents from 43 households out of 118 surveyed in Target Community Study Area. 

 

 

16-20 yrs

21-40 yrs

41-65 yrs

65 up

Total

Number Surveyed

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

6

4

4

15

6

6

1

1

17

26

 

Knowledge of the community 

Forty Five percent of the respondents have lived in the community for more than 6 years.

Twenty three  percent of the respondents have lived in the community for more than three years. Together they form 65 percent of the respondents – respondents who have a good knowledge of present and past community life.

Residence in the Community

assessment image 1

Perception of Safety

Assessing the feeling of safety was given priority in the survey. An attempt was made right from the fourth question in the questionnaire asking them how safe do the respondents feel in the community. According to our findings, 50 percent of respondents feel safe in the community as compared to forty eight percent who feel unsafe. We find almost the same proportions among those who feel very safe (16percent) and very unsafe (18percent).

However, in response to the next question, asking  if the respondents felt  safer now than two years ago, sixty five percent responded ‘No.’

This indicates a shift in perception when community members are asked to consider theirassessment image 5 beliefs about safety over a specific period of time. Interestingly, twice the number of women as men feel "safe" or "very much safe." Whereas with the "unsafe" and "very unsafe" the response ration is almost equal.

 

 

 

Feel Safer than two years ago ........

Violent Crimes

Residents were asked to select their top three concerns from a list that ranged form violent crime to graffiti. Table 2 below discloses the results to Question 6 on the survey: Please pick the top three concerns that you have about your community, if there are any. Seventy two percent consider drug dealing in their community as their prime concern following by gang activity (43percent) and graffiti (37percent).

What is most striking about these answers is the fact that in answer to our first survey question, not many residents responded that they have been directly affected by a variety of Index offenses (rape, murder, robbery, domestic violence, drugs, assault, car jacking, and gang-related crimes) within their neighborhoods.

 Among the choices provided, the overwhelming concern among all surveyed residents is drugs. According to knowledgeable and credible sources in the community, who gave their opinion about this study, even the drug dealing crime is limited to a few opportunistic individuals’ adventures for making easy money. These individuals are mostly pushed by the actors from outside the community. Substance abuse problem was not so serious until the recent moving in of a few tenants.

Drugs appear to be the source of greatest apprehension for residents because of their common belief that the drug problem is correlated with safety and security and quality of life.

Gangs 

Participants who felt gangs were a problem were asked to choose their top three concerns. Responses varied from a majority of them (51percent) saying due to gang activity there is an increased fear for safety, to 49 percent saying it leads to increase in drug crimes, to 25 percent considering it a source of public nuisance.

  assessment image 2

Why Gangs

The next question (#8) further probed the respondents to find out  the possible reasons for gang related activity. The participants were asked to pick three reasons why they believe gang activity exists in their community. The response was amazing, as we can see from the following graph. Eighty-one percent believed it is due to poverty, where as fifty percent believed it is due to lack of activities for youth. Thirty-four percent selected family problems and 30 percent of the respondents indicated that the involvement of family or friends in gangs was a factor. Eighteen percent indicated that the need for protection was a factor in the existence of gang activity in their neighborhood.

  assessment image 3

 
Risk of getting involved in a gang

In question 13, respondents were asked if they believed that their children were in a gang, at risk of being in a gang or not involved. Thirty four percent of respondents stated that their children are not involved with a gang. Twenty eight percent believed that their child(ren) is at risk of getting involved. 16 respondents (37 percent) did not respond to this question, out of which 10 were in the age group between 16-20 years. This means out of the 33 respondents above the age of 20, 12 persons (36 percent) believe their kids are at risk of being involved in gang activity.

 assessment image 4

 Times When Residents Are Most Concerned About Crime

Participants were asked to identify the time of the day when they are most concerned about crime. Later night was identified as the time when people most fear violent crime in the study area, garnering a 42percent score. However, 28percent of respondents selected day time/working hours, substantiating anecdotal accounts of drug activity occurring in broad daylight.

Table 2. Time Residents Are Most Concerned with Crime

 

Corinthian

 

Total

Percent

Morning

 

 

Working Hour

12

28%

Evening

13

30%

Late night

18

42%

Problem areas

In a follow up question, community members were asked if they considered some areas in the neighbourhood more problematic than others, and if so why.  Respondents identified block 2070 as a problem area for drug related activity, and blocks 1271 and 1275 as areas where there is a prostitution problem. 

Quality of Life Crime

Question 12 of the Survey focused on the "quality of life" related crimes, listed in the Table 4 below. Among secondary or "quality of life" crimes, surveyed residents were asked to pick only three. They felt that noise was the biggest problem. Public drunkenness is second on the list of priority concerns.

Table 3. Quality of Life Crimes Study Area Residents are Most Concerned about  

Please pick the top three concerns that you have about your community, if there are any.

 

 Total

M

 F

16-20

yrs

21-40

yrs

41-65

yrs

65 up

 

Prostitution

22

51%

8

14

60%

42%

50%

100%

 

Loitering

23

53%

7

16

70%

42%

50%

100%

 

Public Drunkenness

26

60%

9

17

80%

42%

66%

100%

 

Noise

28

65%

11

17

70%

63%

58%

100%

 

Vandalism

11

25%

3

8

1%

26%

41%

 

 

Burglary

11

25%

4

7

30%

32%

8%

50%

 

Car Theft

16

37%

6

10

1%

36%

50%

100%

For the complete study, contact SEOCHC or Click Here for a PDF copy of the Safety Survey report.

For a Comparative analysis of the same study in 2006, please click here

 

© 2005-15 South - East Ottawa Community Health Centre
Centre de Sante Communautaire du Sud Est D'Ottawa

Contact: Abid Jan Tel./ Tél: (613) 737-5115 Ext. 2403  Fax/Télé: (613) 739-8199

NCLB matters because neighbourhoods matter