Academic journal article Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Risky Facilities: Analysis of Crime Concentration in High-Rise Buildings

Academic journal article Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Risky Facilities: Analysis of Crime Concentration in High-Rise Buildings

Article excerpt

In recent years, local and state governments have implemented changes to planning legislation and regulations, signalling a shift towards high-density housing, or vertical communities, In order to ease the strain of maintaining a sprawling Infrastructure base (Healy & Birrell 2006; Newman & Kenworthy 1989). However, little consideration has been given to how these policies might Impact on levels of crime and fear of crime within vertical communities. To inform evidence-based housing and planning policies, this paper explores how the levels of place management and guardianship relate to the volume and mix of crimes occurring in high-rise apartment buildings.


It Is fairly well established that crime concentrates with respect to space (hotspots), victims (repeat victimisation) and offenders (prolific offenders). These patterns offer law enforcement and allied criminal justice agencies considerable guidance for effective crime prevention resource allocation. Recently, a new form of crime concentration, known as risky facilities, has emerged that complements and enhances existing crime prevention efforts.

Eck, Clark and Guerette (2007) use risky facilities to describe the uneven distribution of offences across facilities of the same type. One surprising finding is that even within a set of homogenous locations (hotels, train stations, licensed venues), only a small number of locations often account for a disproportionately large number of crimes. This is commonly referred to as the 80-20 rule, where 80 percent of outcomes are caused by only 20 percent of a population. The risky facilities pattern has been demonstrated in schools, banks, bars and clubs, bus stop shelters, various types of small businesses,construction sites, convenience stores, petrol stations, hotels and motels, and a few other facility types (Eck, Clark & Guerette 2007).

Risky facilities have clear implications for prevention strategies and techniques. Through identifying those facilities responsible for the greatest proportion of crimes, resources can be allocated effectively to realise maximum prevention benefit, while focusing on relatively few facilities (Eck, Clark & Guerette 2007; Eck & Eck 2012; Madensen & Eck 2008; Wilcox & Eck 2011). The risky facilities concept places a great deal of emphasis on the role of place managers and how their practices influence the differences observed between facilities (Hornel & Clark 1994; Madensen & Eck 2008). In addition, crime prevention can be triggered by the presence of guardians, individuals who provide natural, informal surveillance for a potential crime target (Hollis-Peel et al. 2011). Identifying facilities that account for the most and least crime, researchers are able to identify some of the key factors influencing this and what management practices are the most effective at preventing crime. This information can be used to reduce crime at other facilities, as well as informing best practice.


The aim of this project was to inform housing and planning policy development and policing practice by identifying and examining risky facilities within high-density communities. Specifically the following research questions were explored:

* Are there certain buildings that host a disproportionate volume of crime for different crime types? If so, what distinguishes these buildings from others that do not?

* What is the relationship between building management style and the volume and nature of crime? Does physical security play a role in the observed differences between buildings? What is the relationship between guardianship offered by fellow residents and the volume and nature of crime?

* Do management style and security measures influence the perception of safety and incidences of crime within high-rise buildings?


Study region

The Gold Coast suburb of Surfers Paradise was the focus of the research. …

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