Testing Prospect/Refuge Theory


Prospect/Refuge theory states that the extent to which a pedestrian feels vulnerable to crime depends both on the openness of the space around them (the prospect) and the number of hiding places for potential attackers (refuges).  This theory could provide a simple method of identifying the fearful locations in an area, as the data collection required is minimal.


The AUNT-SUE research focused on residents of a neighbourhood who were potentially socially excluded due to fear of crime. The case study area was Somerstown, an area between London Kings Cross and Euston. The study found that Prospect Refuge theory provides a mechanism to predict the level of fear of crime felt by pedestrians in an area, and to highlight hotspots of fear.


Such a map would allow Local Authorities to focus on improving such areas, and as a consequence perhaps reducing the social exclusion experienced by some residents of the area whose fear of crime when walking in their neighbourhood limits their access to activities others take for granted.


Please see right column on this page for further information on our work with Prospect/Refuge Theory.

Key Documents



E: Ben Calnan

E: Claire Elull



Research led by

LMet University -
Cities Institute