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The spatial reordering of poverty and its association with property and violent crime in Glasgow and Birmingham 2001-2016

There is growing evidence of the spatial reordering or suburbanisation of poverty (Kavanagh et al., 2016; Bailey and Minton, 2017) and its detrimental impact on the life chances of poorer people (Zhang and Pryce, forthcoming) in UK cities.  This paper extends this body of research through exploring the potential association between the spatial re-ordering of poverty and crime. The strength of the association between poverty and crime, once a bedrock conclusion of international research, has increasingly been challenged (Dhiri et al., 1999; Hipp and Yates, 2011; Tilley et al., 2011; Metz and Burdina, 2018). However, existing research typically deploys a single poverty measure, does not take account of different crime types, adopts a large spatial scale of analysis and does not contrast findings across different settings. To redress these shortfalls, we assess and deploy a range of people-based (e.g., DWP benefits and income inequality) and place-based  (Index of Multiple Deprivation) measures of poverty, examine both police recorded property and violent crime data, adopt the neighbourhood as the spatial unit of analysis and contrast our findings across two cities, Glasgow and Birmingham, whose boundaries are defined by their travel to work areas.

Our findings indicate that there has been a spatial re-ordering of poverty across the two cities, with poverty becoming less centralised. We find evidence that crime rates have dropped more sharply in the neighbourhoods in and around city centres. However, with reference to multiple poverty measures, we find consistent evidence that the association between poverty and crime has weakened considerably over time. The paper discusses these findings with reference to international literatures on the ‘crime drop’.

This research is in development. If you have any questions about this work, please contact Professor Jon Bannister.

This work also involves Dr Won Do Lee at Manchester Metropolotian University and Professor Anthony O’Sullivan at The University of Glasgow.

Research Team

Dr Kitty Lymperopoulou
Senior Research Associate