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Criminology students test ‘broken window theory’ with a community clean-up

​Students from the University are holding a community clean-up in the St Paul’s area of Cheltenham, as part of a long term study into crime in the area.

It all takes place on Saturday 14 October and will see students litter picking and photo-documenting conditions such as fly tipping, graffiti and other signs of vandalism, as well as to take brief field notes of their observations. The clean-up is being supported by local councillors, St Paul’s Residents Association, the Mayor Klara Sudbury and MP Alex Chalk who will be joining the students at the event. Local businesses, Central Stores and Joe’s Fish and Chips, The Coconut Tree and School House Café in St Paul’s are also lending their support.

The project will see them test the ‘broken windows theory’ which found that a neighbourhood where the environment appears to be neglected tends to invite low-level crime such as theft, antisocial behaviour and violence. This in turn can lead to more serious crimes. The students will collect, share and retrieve data over the year and beyond which they can use to create their own research and formulate their own theories concerning crime and the environment.

Brian Frederick, a Lecturer in Criminology at the University says: “As a lecturer in criminology, it’s difficult not to notice conditions that may lead to crime, in particular, litter. As a resident of St Paul’s, it’s rewarding to be able to apply this theory to my own neighbourhood. I’m certain many of my students share the same sentiment. As well as picking up litter, students will be asked to take photographs of fly tipping, graffiti and other signs of vandalism, and take notes of any neglected parts of the community. This is all part of a long term study of the area and we hope that the clean-up will become an annual event in St Paul’s.”

Jon Walklett, a Councillor for St Paul’s, says: “The St Paul’s community has always responded favourably to initiatives such as this. I welcome the input from University of Gloucestershire in planning the “clear up” campaign and feel sure local residents working together with our student population can only cement the community spirit in our ward.”