Disability and the creation of SAFE(R)SPACE

Creating secure societies and spaces where individuals and communities can live safely without fear and intimidation features strongly in the agendas of nation states and supra-national governance agencies. The disproportionate experience of violence, hostility, and hate crime encountered on the basis of disability marks a key challenge to this agenda, and to a progressive disability politics which foregrounds disabled people’s autonomy and self-determination. SAFE(R)SPACE aims to explore the relationship between social identity, space, and (un)safety in the context of disabled people’s encounters with, and fear of, violence and hostility in Ireland.


Project Aims

Building on an emergent research agenda which straddles the policy arenas of justice, health, and the environment, the project aims to explore:

(i) how disabled people’s perceptions and understandings of (un)safety in public and private spaces shape their everyday geographies and mobilities, and

(ii) how agencies concerned with community safety might facilitate the creation of ‘safe(r) spaces’ which enable people with disabilities to live in different places without   fear of hostility or intimidation.

At a time when Ireland is on the cusp of ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the project will develop the concept of 'safe(r) space' as an analytical vehicle to envision self-determined understandings of safety as they are constructed by disabled people themselves, and explore how these interact with broader societal attitudes and responses to disability and victimisation.


Project Design

The project involves 3 phases.

Phase 1 involves scoping out the national policy context, and exploring how policymakers and disability organisations understand issues of disability, safety and fear of hostility/violent crime in Ireland.

Phase 2 involves work with people with disabilities and practitioners in three different local case study areas across Ireland.

Phase 3 focuses around hosting local and national network events to disseminate the research findings, and begin to bring together networks of organisations concerned with making spaces safe(r) for people with disabilities.



Irish Research Council ‘Research for Policy and Society Scheme 2016’

Duration: 24 months (January 2017-2019).



Principal Investigator:  Dr. Claire Edwards

Project Officer:            Nicola Maxwell:

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF