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Design Against Crime - Beyond Defensible Space

NCJ Number
B Poyner
Date Published
124 pages
Based on empirical research and action projects conducted since Oscar Newman's theory of defensible space was published in 1972, this book summarizes design patterns to reduce vandalism and property damage, burglary, robbery, pickpocketing, violent assaults, and sexual assault.
Following a review of crime prevention concepts such as police patrols and block watches, the author explores Newman's theories and their impact on recent research. Individual chapters then address American research on making urban neighborhoods safer through design and preventing residential burglary, vandalism in public housing, street attacks in urban centers, school crime, and crime on public transportation systems. Researchers have never validated Newman's ideas about territoriality, but instead have focused on the concept of accessibility. For example, limiting access to neighborhoods, residential streets, common areas of apartment buildings, and backs of houses can reduce crime. The natural surveillance component of the defensible space theory has survived empirical tests and is important in controlling residential burglary, vandalism in multiunit housing, and school break-ins. Employee surveillance is particularly relevant to public transport and school crime reduction. Researchers generally have neglected target hardening and removal, although some studies suggest that the issue is more complex than previously thought. In the environmental management area, controlling child densities in public housing has influenced vandalism levels, and quick repair and effective maintenance have reduced property damage. Finally, British and European semidetached and row houses with high walls and fences offer greater protection against crime than the detached suburban house common in the United States. The book provides a summary of design patterns, tables, photographs, drawings, approximately 80 references, and an index.