Crime Prevention - crime

Background: defensible space theory

Jacobs blamed urban planners for making "cities unsafe plcaes". Buildings should be orientated towards the street, clear boundaries between private and public areas, sem-public areas e.g. lawns, play areas should be located near areas that are easily overlooked.

Newman developed "defensible space theory". High rise flats during 70s had NO defensible space which meant no one claims ownership or shows respect for public areas. If people have fences or private boundaries, they're more likely to report invasions of that space. 

  • Newman compared 2 adjacent housing estates in NYC named "Van Dyke" and "Brownsville". Brownsville had lower crime rate than Van Dyke. Difference was due to design of buildings.
    • Brownsville consisted of six X-shaped buildings with 3-storey wings and entrances meaning lots of defensible space, easy to watch over. Anyone approaching a wing could be seen from several large windows. Children allowed to play out meaning neighbours were often meeting and talking. 
    • Van Dyke estate was mostly large, 14-storey buildings separated by open spaces that offered little or no defensible space. 
1 of 4

Background: zero tolerance

Policing strategy which involves addressing all types of crime to prevent escalation to more serious types of crime. First introduced in Wilson and Kelling's broken windows theory. They suggest one broken window suggests no one cares if not repaired.

Policies of ZT in USA have been effective. In New York by Bill Bratton, when ZT introduced it marked a decrease in serious crimes particularly violent offences. Major crime in the city fell by 39% and murder by 49%. 

In the UK Detective Superintendent Mallon introduced ZT in Middlesbrough and found that figures of 3 months of ZTP showed a 22% fall in crim rates. Malon also achieved these results in Hartlepool where he saw a reduction in crime of 38% in 28 months.

2 of 4

Key Research: Wilson and Kelling

Article published following the New Jersey "safe and clean neighbourhood programme" and outlines ways in which neighbourhoods felt safe and the problems that can occur. 

  • Safe neighbourhoods - fear of being bothered by disorderly people e.g. teenagers. People feel relieved and reassured when police maintain order through foot patrols. Broken windows theory - one broken window leads to more serious crime if ignored. Breakdown of community controls - serious street crime flourishes in areas which disorderly behaviour goes unchecked. Suggest foot patrols to maintain order.
  • Changing role of the police - shift from order maintenance to law enforcement. No more informal rules. It is a mistake to ignore crimes that harm "no-one" because they could destroy an entire community. Gangs congregate but police can't do anything so community believe "police do nothing". Could emphaise social control like foot paths. Employ citizen patrols e.g. Guardian Angels who patrol NY streets.
  • Maintaining order - need public support. Employ private watchmen/security guards, have off-duty police officers to use public transport and enforce rules about smoking and drinking etc. Foot patrols are useless in crime ridden areas, so must identify neighbourhoods at tipping point.
3 of 4

Strategies to prevent crime

  • Community design - Newman defensible space theory, making areas "belong" to someone (territorial marks like fences)
  • Zero tolerance - don't tolerate minor crimes in an attemot to deter more serious crime - Wilson and Kelling broken windows 
  • Order maintenance policing - foot patrols and community policing to maintain order and prevent crimes (Wilson and Kelling)
  • Surveillance - formal (carried out by police or security services), informal (neighbourhood watch, signs as deterrents). CCTV is also used in city centres, public buildings, supermarkets etc.
    • Burrows - crime dropped significantly when CCTV was installed in 4 underground stations. 252 offences droppped by 70% to 75 offences the year after.
    • Brown - 3 UK citires had CCTV installed and it reduced criminal activity significantly e.g. Newcastle 56% reduction in burglary and 34% drop in criminal damage.
4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Criminological and Forensic Psychology resources »