Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of Northern and Western Asia

Benchmarking the Extent of Quality-of-Life Crime: A Study in Hong Kong’s Public Housing Sector

Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of Northern and Western Asia

Benchmarking the Extent of Quality-of-Life Crime: A Study in Hong Kong’s Public Housing Sector

Article excerpt

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It is our common belief that housing quality shapes life quality (Dunn, 2000). This connection has been extensively evidenced by numerous empirical studies including Raw and Hamilton (1995) and Newcombe et al. (2005). For its multi-attribute nature, housing quality is contingent on a long list of factors which range from relatively fixed factors such as location and physical configurations to changeable operational factors like housing management and residents? behavior (Wong et al., 2006). While non-participation or inactivity of residents in housing upkeep has long been regarded as a major cause of the degradation of living environment, the impacts of quality-of-life (QoL) crimes or anti-social behavior (ASB) started gaining growing attention from policy-makers, polices, housing authorities, residents, academics and other stakeholders in the past two decades. The seriousness of these problems was best evidenced by the figures below.

In Scotland, for example, about 20% of social housing tenants found their neighbors creating nuisance for them (Clapham et al., 1995). In the UK as a whole, the number of reported ASB cases was estimated 13.5 million each year (Wood, 2004). The survey by Ipsos MORI (2010) revealed that ASB ranked as the public?s highest priority when it came to tackling crime and disorder in their area. In Singapore, a quarter of the residents in public housing complained about noise nuisances (Housing and Development Board, 2010). Around 10% and 25% of the Australian households reported illegal drugs and vandalism respectively in their neighborhoods (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006). According to the findings from the American Housing Survey in 2009, around 25.4 million and 9.8 million residences suffered from neighborhood problems of noise and litter respectively (United States Census Bureau, 2010). On account of the proliferation of ASB in the country, the UK Government launched a public consultation on the new statutory control regime of ASB in August 2011 (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2011). In Hong Kong, 25% of public housing tenants found neighborhood problems in their estates were intolerable (Yau, 2011).

QoL crimes have adverse impacts on the local communities because they can result in reduced residential satisfaction, poor physical and mental health and social disruption (Agyemang et al., 2007; Curtis et al., 2004; Jacobson et al., 2008). In this regard, many attempts have been made by different governments to deal with the issue. For example, introductory or probationary tenancies, stricter tenancy enforcement (e.g., by means of lease termination) and statutory orders (e.g., ASB orders, injunction orders and parenting orders) have been used in the United Kingdom various states of Australia against perpetrators (Chartered Institute of Housing, 2001; Flint and Nixon, 2006; Hunter et al., 2005). However, for better-informed policy making, the public administrators should obtain reliable data about the extent of QoL crime in different neighborhood or housing estate. Unfortunately, most governmental and scholarly studies rely heavily on figures like number of complaints or reports received by the government agencies and number of orders issued for the benchmarking purpose. These figures do not reflect the real extent of the QoL crime problem for various reasons like non-reporting of crimes and inefficiency in government's enforcement. Against this background, this chapter proposes a subjective but scientific measure of the extent of QoL crime for Hong Kong's public housing estates. The Quality-of-Life Crime Index (QLCI), a protocol for benchmarking housing estates or areas in respect of the problem of QoL crime or ASB, is developed using a multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) technique.

This chapter is organized as follows. The nature and causes of QoL crime are first reviewed. It is then followed by a review of the indicators for measuring or benchmarking the extent of QoL crime. …

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