Analysis and mapping of crime perception: A quantitative approach of sketch maps
Evidence exists that people’s perception of crime is not often consistent with the actual incidents statistics, and there is a tendency of underestimating or overestimating safety. We examine a phenomenon called the crime perception gap via participatory geographical information derived from sketch maps. The study area is Budapest, Hungary for which data were collected via a participatory platform in 2017 on the perception of safe and unsafe places. The methodology consisted of three stages; exploratory modeling, the spatial delineation of the gap, and the spatial exploration of inaccurate perceptions in relation to their surrounding environment. In stage one, we found that the variable with the highest impact on perception is the daily route. The further away a place is to personal routes the more likely it is to be perceived as unsafe. In the second stage, we computed and mapped the perceptual accuracy. The overall perceptual accuracy was as low as 39%, while many safe places were wrongly perceived as unsafe (also unsafe ones as safe). In the third stage, we identified that significant spatial patterns seem to have a diffusion effect on people’s perception. For example, a safe place could be perceived as unsafe because the neighboring places are crime hotspots (and vice versa). We argue that misperception of crime can have repercussions on peoples’ lifestyles, affect social behavior and spatial and economic dynamics. Thus, spatial analysis and mapping can be used to support police agencies in the development of strategies to reduce the misperception of crime.