Planning for Crime Prevention: A Transatlantic Perspective

By Richard H. Schneider; Ted Kitchen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1

CRIME, COSTS AND THE QUALITY OF LIFE

INTRODUCTION
For urban planners and designers, police, policy makers and a growing number of citizens, the concept of 'quality of life' has become increasingly important as a defining measure of the health of cities and the societies of which they are a part. In this chapter we discuss crime and the fear of crime as key factors directing the choices that citizens make and as these choices affect the quality of life in Britain and in the United States. Towards that end:
• we explore the implications that basic questions of safety have for ourselves and our families relative to urban places, the fundamental building blocks of British and American cities. We review definitions of the component elements of crime prevention planning, focusing on measures of programme success in reducing crime and the fear of crime.
• we consider the theoretical predicates of crime prevention, through origins in the classical, positivist, sociological and modern schools of criminology. In so doing, we focus particularly on offender and environment-based approaches as related to traditional and emerging models of crime prevention.
• we review the impacts that crime has had on the quality of life of citizens in Britain and the United States, noting citizens' responses to crime and the fear of crime in residential, shopping, recreational and employment choices. Since crime is a major expense to both nations, we review some of the relative costs of crime as estimated by recent national studies.
• beyond mere statistical measures, we explore the role crime has in driving citizen choices, noting that these have important impacts on the viability and liveability of large metropolitan areas in the United States and Britain. We suggest that a primary role of urban planning is to increase the range of choices available to citizens, while crime and the fear of crime have the opposite effects. Despite that, we note that crime prevention planning has been understated in the traditional planning and urban design literature and in available coursework, even though, as we see in Chapter 2, it is consistently at or near the top of concerns stated by citizens in repeated national polls. We conclude with a summary that attempts to integrate the multiple concepts expressed in this chapter and pave the way for future research and practice.

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