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Does Local Crime Deter Walking?

Project Team: Professor Carol Propper, Katharina Janke (University of Lancaster), Michael Shields (Montash University)

This project investigates the relationship between local area crime and people’s walking patterns in that area. Walking is important, for many adults it is the only form of exercise that they do, so increasing the amount people walk is one weapon in fighting the rising tide of obesity. But the levels of local crime could have impact on how safe people feel when walking, which gives further impetus to the police to combat crime.

Sampling nearly 1 million people in 323 local authorities to examine this issue, we found that walking regularly as part of people’s commute to work is negatively affected by violent crime in the area. We estimate that reducing local crime to a level equivalent to the lowest quarter of all local authority incidences, would have health benefits that including limiting heart attacks and the onset of Type II diabetes, valued at c.£4m per annum.