Knowledge about conditions that are understood to support safety is important for planning residential safety promotion in interactions with residents. How residents themselves perceive and reason about their own safety needs has seldom been investigated in Scandinavia.
To identify factors perceived to be necessary to feel safe by residents in areas with blocks of flats and detached houses.
Residents in a Swedish municipality were asked an open-ended question on the research topic by a mail survey; 787 residents provided narrative data that were fed into a summative qualitative and quantitative content analysis.
A stable social structure in the housing area was perceived to be the central factor in a safety-supportive residential environment. Whereas maintenance of good and reassuring relations was emphasised in detached housing areas, support for management of poor or even fear-provoking neighbour relations was requested from areas with blocks of flats. This finding emphasises the need to reduce the differential exposure to safety-related factors in the living environment.
The results of our study encourage the continued use of a setting-orientated safety promotion approach in which residents and other stakeholders are involved. The policy recommendation that can be drawn from the study is that both the subjective and objective dimensions of safety should be identified and considered when developing local safety promotion interventions in community contexts.