Safety audit

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The Safety Audit is a citizen participation method originally designed by the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) in Toronto, striving for building womens’ skills and making their communities safer.[1] Women’s safety audits are an internationally acknowledged practice, that help equip women and communities to identify what kind of corrective measures are needed to improve personal safety in urban settings.

Safety Audits encourage local and context-specific solutions to issues of insecurity. They promote partnerships as well as joint solutions between residents and their local governments. Moreover safety audits help to evaluate and identify features in a community with the goal to reduce crime and improve the resident's safety and the areas security in general.

Process description

Usually, a Safety Audit starts with a group of residents, and possibly other community members, who meet and discuss spaces in their community that feel unsafe. Safety audit groups generally work best when members are diverse and therefore represent a variety of safety and security concerns (e.g. younger and older participants, disabled, different ethnic backgrounds). Unsafe spaces might include a shopping centre parking lot, a pathway between residences, a water source, or a public housing development. After the safety audit group has chosen an unsafe space, they go together to that and note the factors or characteristics that they think make it unsafe.

How does it support in planning of secure public spaces?

  • Supports identifying factors/spots/spaces evoking unsafe feelings (characteristics that make a space feel unsafe might include poor lighting, negative graffiti messages, an isolated location, and others);
  • Supports gathering information on perception of (in)security and risks;
  • Supports gaining insights into culture aspects.

Links and further reading

Footnotes and references

  1. UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Retrieved from: http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/262-ask-questions-about-womens-safety-in-the-city.html.