Can Poor Neighbourhoods be Correlated with Crime? Evidence from Urban Ghana
The subject of crime and poverty has long been of interest in the field of crime studies. Consequently, many studies in criminology have explored the extent to which crime correlates with poverty and the mechanisms that facilitate this relationship. Based on a household survey and a qualitative study conducted in different socio-economic neighbourhoods in four key cities (Accra, Kumasi, Sekondi-Takoradi, and Tamale), this paper explores the extent to which crime and poverty can be correlated in urban Ghana. This is interesting given the fact that limited studies have been undertaken on the subject of crime and poverty in urban Ghana, although a large body of literature exists on urbanization. The paper reveals that low-class and high-class neighbourhoods were assessed to be relatively safe compared with middle-class neighbourhoods—a conclusion that contradicts broad findings in the criminology literature. The relative safety of low-class neighbourhoods compared with middle-class neighbourhoods is attributed to strong social cohesion and the presence of guardianship at all times of the day in poor neighbourhoods. However, the findings of the paper also suggest a relationship between poverty and crime for specific crimes such as sexual and property offences, in line with the literature. The study recommends that crime prevention measures be place-specific and that urban planning in Ghana recognize in practical terms that a built-up environment can facilitate as well as prevent crimes.
Key words: crime; poverty; urban; Ghana