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Transforming vacant lots: Investigating an alternative approach to reducing fear of crime

Summary


Incorporating Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) into traditional urban greening practices may optimize reductions in fear of crime

Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) aims to reduce crime and fear of crime through the implementation of environmental design standards. Four standards, basic to the implementation of CPTED, include territoriality, surveillance, access control, and maintenance. These design standards, when implemented together, can collectively influence an individual’s perception of the environment which, in turn, influences one’s fear of crime. The underlying goal of CPTED, like that of urban greening, is to improve the quality of life of city residents.

In an experiment involving 523 undergraduates, students reported their level of fear of crime in regard to one of three randomly-assigned computer-adjusted images: a disorderly lot, a traditionally greened lot, and a CPTED lot. Participants recorded their responses on a questionnaire paired with their assigned image. The questionnaire assessed participants’ assessment of safety, risk of victimization, and fear of victimization. Their responses were used to calculate a fear of crime index. Two hypotheses were tested (1) participants who viewed a traditionally greened lot or a CPTED lot would report less fear of crime than those that viewed a disorderly lot; and (2) participants who viewed a CPTED lot would report lower levels of fear of crime than those viewing a traditionally greened lot. In essence, the author was attempting to understand if incorporating CPTED standards into traditional greening practices would reduce the fear of crime above and beyond what greening practices alone would do.

Fear of crime index scores were lower for students viewing the traditionally greened lot and the CPTED lot than for students viewing the untransformed disorderly lot. Participants who viewed the CPTED lot, however, reported lower levels of fear of crime than all other participants.

While the author notes that it is premature to offer policy recommendations based on the findings of this preliminary study, she does suggest that incorporating the principles of CPTED into urban greening may optimize reductions in fear of crime. She advocates for further research to explore this idea and offers some specific recommendations for planning and conducting such research.

Citation

De Biasi, A., (2017). Transforming vacant lots: Investigating an alternative approach to reducing fear of crime. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 50, 125-137.

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