A new national study has found that the voluntary use of gardening, volunteering, and helping people is a good way to reduce crime in the rural community.
Key points:Researchers from Queensland University of Technology found that a 10 per cent reduction in crime in rural areas was linked to the use and/or contribution of volunteersVolunteers are more likely to have lower crime rates than non-volunteersCommunity groups can help the community, even if the community does not volunteerThe research found that when residents in rural communities volunteer their time, they are more than twice as likely to reduce their crime rates.
In the study, which analysed police recorded crime data in 20 major Australian cities, researchers looked at the impact of voluntary gardening, gardening for the community or community groups, gardening projects and volunteering on local crime rates from 2006 to 2015.
“In the face of increased crime, we need to provide the community with opportunities for participation, but we need community support,” Professor Ian Bowers, lead author of the research, said.
“The more community involvement, the more effective community policing strategies will be.”
He said the results of the study showed that a significant amount of the decrease in crime was caused by community involvement.
“There is a positive relationship between community involvement and crime reduction, especially in low-risk settings,” Professor Bowers said.
He said that was because people are more willing to share their knowledge and experiences, which encourages community members to share.
“A community is better able to work together to find solutions and support when crime is low, and it’s more likely that the community will support each other,” Professor Jules Smith said.
Researchers found that, in urban areas, a 10-point reduction in the amount of crime could be attributed to volunteering.
However, the study found that in rural locations, the link between volunteer and crime was much stronger.
In NSW, volunteers were more likely than non volunteers to commit a crime in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
In Queensland, the difference in the rate of crime was significant and it could be due to the impact on property crime in those communities.
“This study shows that in some areas, community involvement is the best way to achieve reduced crime,” Professor Smith said, adding that it was “important that we continue to develop programs and services that support community participation”.
He said there was “clear evidence” that the government was taking the opportunity to focus on helping the community by improving crime prevention.
“It’s good for our local communities, it’s good that we have community policing programs, it helps the police in the community as well,” he said.
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