B2. Environmental design and crime

Measuring the effects of the built environment on bus stop crime

Aims and method:

Seeks to understand how different environmental attributes in the vicinity of a bus stop can affect the incidence of crime. Uses a stratified random sample of sixty bus stops in downtown Los Angeles to examine the effects of environmental and land-use attributes on crime rates. Using descriptive statistics, correlations, regression and discriminant analyses, and matched-pair analysis, we find some relations between the existence or absence of certain environmental attributes and the incidence of crime.

Key findings:

· Crime rates were higher for bus stops near alleys, multifamily housing, liquor stores and cheque-cashing establishments, vacant buildings, and graffiti and litter.

· The presence or absence of certain characteristics in the bus stop microenvironment can affect crime: good visibility of the bus stop from its surroundings and the existence of bus shelters contributed to lower crime rates.

· Higher crime rates were noted at intersections with on-street parking, and higher rates of vehicle traffic were associated with lower crime rates.


Loukaitou-Sideris, A., Liggett, R., Iseki, H., & Thurlow, W. (2001). Measuring the effects of built environment on bus stop crime. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 28(2), 255-280.


Hot spots of bus stop crime and the environment

Aims and method:

Seeks to understand the connection between criminal activity at bus stops and environmental factors. The study used direct observation, mapping, interviews, and surveys to examine the physical and social environment around the 10 most crime-ridden bus stops in Los Angeles during 1994 and 1995.

Key findings:

· Different types of crime tend to occur under different environmental conditions, for example public nuisance crimes are common at high-traffic bus stops because criminals could hide their illegal activities behind the crowds.

· High-crime bus stops situated in commercial areas at the intersections of multilane streets are typically not visible from the surrounding shops, lack adequate lighting and public phones, and are not near any police stations. Empty sites and vacant, semi-vacant, and dilapidated buildings neighbour many, as do drinking establishments.

· The coexistence and combination of negative environmental attributes and a general lack of defensible space aggravates the incidence of crime: bad neighbours, desolation and lack of surveillance, crowding (crimes like purse snatching happens more in the crowd), broken windows (being situated in vacant area), and easy escapes.


Loukaitou-Sideris, A. (1999). Hot spots of bus stop crime: The importance of environmental attributes. Journal of the American Planning association, 65(4), 395-411.


Hot spots of fear and crime

Aims and method:

Examines the relationship between levels of crime and fear of crime and the physical built environment. The study utilised a variety of methods to study the relationships in Columbus, Ohio (USA) including user self-assessments, survey interviews on-site and as a reaction to a plan, interviews with police officers, and analysis of crime statistics.

Key findings:

· Crime and fear of crime concentrate in 'hot spots'

· Micro-level (neighbourhood) hot spots of fear relate to proximate (local) physical features.

· A variety of measures of fear show an increase in fear related to concealment for offenders, and blocked prospect and escape for victims.

· Fears in relation to these features may be reflected on campuses and public spaces, where policy calls for trimmed vegetation, lighting of dark pathways, and lighting and cameras in parking lots

· Increases in prospect, and decreases in concealment and boundedness may enhance feeling of safety and


Nasar, J., & Fisher, B. (1993). ‘Hot spots’ of fear and crime: A multi-method investigation. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 65, 187-206.


Housing, neighbourhood conditions and personal safety

Aims and method:

Investigates the relationship between neighbourhood conditions and residents' expressed perceptions of safety. Utilises subjective and objective measures of local conditions in an assessment of safety via a sample of 305 interviews in Louisville, Kentucky (USA). Housing conditions were assessed using a standardised rating system.

Key findings:

· Housing and neighbourhood quality had an impact on satisfaction with the local physical environment and perceptions of safety.

· Housing quality also had an impact on perceptions of personal safety.

· Deteriorated neighbourhood conditions increased concerns of safety, but they also decreased levels of satisfaction with the neighbourhood physical environment, which raised further concerns about safety issues.


Austin, D. M., Furr, L. A., & Spine, M. (2002). The effects of neighborhood conditions on perceptions of safety. Journal of criminal justice, 30(5), 417-427.


Crime prevention through environmental design and retail robberies

Aims and method:

The aim of this research is to determine the effectiveness of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) approach in reducing robberies. In 28 studies of post CPTED effectiveness, the percentage change in pre- and post-intervention crime was examined.

Key findings:

· All primary multiple-component CPTED programmes experienced a percentage change in robberies ranging from −84% to −30%.

· Single-component programme effects ranged from −83% to -2.4 (with one outlier at +91%)

· The broad nature of the CPTED approach allows its adaptation to any setting, and results indicate that it is an effective approach to reducing robbery


Casteel, C., & Peek-Asa, C. (2000). Effectiveness of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) in reducing robberies. American journal of preventive medicine, 18(4), 99-115.


Secured by Design

Aims and method:

This article presents the findings of research conducted over a 10-year period (1999–2009) into the effectiveness of the UK’s Secure by Design (SBD) scheme as a crime reduction measure. The scheme sets standards for compliance that developments must meet to be awarded SBD status, including aspects of target hardening, surveillance, territoriality, and management. The research utilised a variety of different methods and data sets including police-recorded crime, self reported crime (through a residents’ survey) and visual audits (as assessed by the authors) on 16 paired schemes (SBD and non-SBD) in West Yorkshire.

Key findings:

· The difference between burglary rates within the SBD and non-SBD samples were statistically significant. A rate of 262.7 crimes per 1000 households within the non-SBD sample and 118.8 crimes per 1000 households within the SBD sample was recorded.


Armitage, R., & Monchuk, L. (2011). Sustaining the crime reduction impact of designing out crime: Re-evaluating the Secured by Design scheme 10 years on. Security Journal, 24(4), 320-343.


Crime prevention through design and social activity

Aims and method:

Examines the effects of changes in neighbourhood environment due to Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) strategies on residents’ social activities and sense of community utilising a case study of the Cheonan Safe Village Project in Korea. The study conducted an observational survey and questionnaire survey in order to collect data, and a total of 314 residents’ social activities were observed and 502 surveys were analysed.

Key findings:

· Social activities increased by 30.5% immediately after project completion, and by 90.4% one year after completing the project.

· Greetings and conversations between neighbours and children’s play activities showed a sustained increase around the areas where the physical environment changed

· Reduction in neighbourhood disorder and fear of crime and increased participation in neighbourhood activities were significantly correlated with a stronger sense of community amongst residents.


Seo, S.Y. & Lee, K.H. (2017). Effects of changes in neighbourhood environment due to the CPTED project on residents’ social activities and sense of community: a case study on the Cheonan Safe Village Project in Korea. International Journal of Urban Sciences, 21 (3), 326-343


Improved street lighting and crime

Aims and method:

Assesses the effect of improved street lighting on crime. Victimisation surveys are carefully matched with experimental and control areas in two adjacent public housing estates in Dudley (UK).

Key findings:

· For all crime in the experimental area, the crime prevalence (total number of victimisations) decreased by 23% after the improved street lighting was installed compared to the 12 months prior to the installation of the lights.

· The changes in the experimental area were significantly greater than the changes in the control area for burglary, personal crime, and all crime.


Painter, K., & Farrington, D. P. (1997). The crime reducing effect of improved street lighting: The Dudley project. Situational crime prevention: Successful case studies, 2, 209-226.


Improved street lighting, crime and displacement

Aims and method:

Assesses the effect of improved street lighting on crime. In Dudley and Stoke (UK), victimisation surveys were carried out before and after improved lighting in experimental and control areas.

Key findings:

· In both cities, the prevalence and incidence of crime decreased after the improved lighting in the experimental area compared with the control area.

· There was also a decrease in crime in the adjacent area in Stoke, suggesting diffusion of benefits from the experimental area.

· Cost-benefit analyses showed that the tangible savings from crimes that had been prevented more than paid off the full capital costs of the improved lighting within one year.


Painter, K., & Farrington, D. P. (1999). Improved street lighting: crime reducing effects and cost-benefit analyses. Security Journal, 12(4), 17-32.


Improved street lighting and day time and night time crime

Aims and method:

This report tests two theories of why improved street lighting may cause a reduction in crime. The first suggests that improved lighting leads to increased surveillance of potential offenders and hence to increased deterrence leading to a reduction in crime at night. The second suggests that improved lighting signals community investment in the area and that the area is improving leading to a general reduction in crime.

Key findings:

· Improved street lighting significantly reduces crime.

· Night-time and day time crimes both decrease so community community pride and informal social control rather than increased surveillance seems to be key.


Welsh, B. C., & Farrington, D. P. (2008). Effects of improved street lighting on crime. Campbell Systematic Reviews, 13, 1-51.


Improved street lighting and crime prevention

Aims and method:

A systematic meta-analysis of the effects of improved outdoor lighting. Studies were included in this systematic review if improved lighting was the main intervention, if there was an outcome measure of crime, if there was at least one experimental area and one comparable control area, if there were before and after measures of crime, and if the total number of crimes in each area before the intervention was at least 20. Thirteen studies from the US and UK met the inclusion criteria.

Key findings:

· Results were mixed for the eight American evaluation studies. Four studies found that improved street lighting was effective in reducing crime, while the other four found no effect.

· Five more recent British studies showed that improved lighting led to a significant 29% decrease in crime in experimental areas compared with comparable control areas.

· Taken together, the 13 studies revealed a significant 21% decrease in crime in experimental areas compared with comparable control areas.

· Better street lighting leads to an increase in perceived public safety and is associated with greater use of public space and neighbourhood streets by law-abiding citizens.


Farrington, D. P., & Welsh, B. C. (2007). Improved street lighting and crime prevention: A systematic review. Stockholm, Sweden: National Council for Crime Prevention.


Crime rates and vegetation

Aims and method:

Examines the relationship between vegetation and crime in an inner-city neighbourhood. This study compared police crime reports for 98 apartment buildings with varying levels of nearby vegetation in Chicago (USA).

Key findings:

· The greener a building’s surroundings are the fewer total crimes.

· This relationship extends to both property crimes and violent crimes.

· Levels of nearby vegetation explained 7 to 8% of the variance in the number of crimes reported per building and the link between vegetation and crime could not be accounted for by either of the two confounding variables identified.

· Vegetation contributed significant additional predictive power above and beyond four other classic environmental predictors of crime, most likely because it suggests greater territoriality and eyes on the street.


Kuo, F. E., & Sullivan, W. C. (2001). Environment and crime in the inner city: Does vegetation reduce crime?. Environment and behavior, 33(3), 343-367.


Fear of crime in urban parks

Aims and method:

Conducted to determine the attributes which evoke fear of crime and defensive behaviours within urban park users. Based on qualitative studies undertaken in the city of Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) among park and non-park users by means of semi-structured in-depth interviews. The interviews covered respondents with various age, gender and race profiles.

Key findings:

· Reflected universal similarities between cultures with regard to a fear of crime in urban green spaces

· Seven attributes were revealed which evoked fear among residents: concealment (vegetation), being alone, signs of physical disorder, presence of social incivilities, familiarity, prior information about crime, and previous crime experience.

· The study also uncovered the presence of defensive behaviours towards crime in urban parks, particularly among the women.


Maruthaveeran, S. & Konijnendijk van den Bosh, C. (2015). Fear of crime in urban parks – What the residents of Kuala Lumpur have to say?. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 14, 702-713.


The built environment, crime and fear of crime

Aims and method:

Examines the relationship of the built environment to crime and the fear of crime in urban neighbourhoods, controlling for other relevant demographic and social variables. This research was carried out in 44 urban residential neighbourhoods in Lansing, Michigan (USA). With a population of about 130,000, Lansing faces similar rates and types of crime as many other small or medium-sized cities in the mid-western United States

Key findings:

· The physical characteristics of urban blocks and the residences are more important than the demographic characteristics of the people living on the block in predicting levels of crime and fear of crime.

· The presence of a nearby convenience or grocery store, despite the additional street level vitality, was related both to actual crime and fear of crime as they attract persons who are more likely to commit crimes.

· The presence of porches and shared driveways, despite the theoretical opportunities for increased surveillance and interaction among neighbours, most successfully predicted higher crime, and, in the case of shared driveways, greater fear of crime.

· Crime at the block level is best predicted by these elements of the built environment. Fear of crime is most strongly related to a lack of community.


Schweitzer, J. H., Kim, J. W., & Mackin, J. R. (1999). The impact of the built environment on crime and fear of crime in urban neighborhoods. Journal of urban technology, 6(3), 59-73.


Residents’ fear in new suburban housing developments

Aims and method:

Explores the relationship between neighbourhood design and residents’ fear of crime in new suburban housing developments. A neighbourhood form index based on the planning and

land-use characteristics that draw people into public space, facilitate pedestrian movement and ensure the presence of ‘territorial guardians’ was developed for each participant (n=1059) from objective environmental data. Self-report and objective data were collected from participants.

Key findings:

· With each additional index attribute, the odds of being fearful reduced (trend test pvalue=0.001), and this persisted even after progressive adjustment for demographics, victimisation, collective efficacy and perceived problems.

· The findings lend support to the notion that a more walkable neighbourhood is also a place where residents feel safer.


Foster, S., Giles-Corti, B., & Knuiman, M. (2010). Neighbourhood design and fear of crime: a social-ecological examination of the correlates of residents’ fear in new suburban housing developments. Health & place, 16(6), 1156-1165.


Built environment, BMI and perceived safety from crime

Aims and method:

Examined the individual, behavioural, social and built environment correlates of body mass index (BMI). Using data from 2003 to 2005 relating to 1,151 participants in, Perth, Western Australia, linear regression was used to construct multivariate models to examine the variance in BMI explained by significant socio-demographic, environmental and health behaviour variables. Both self-reported and GIS-derived measures of the built environment were examined.

Key findings:

· Overall, 3.3% of the variance in BMI was explained by socio-demographic factors, a further 2.7% by health behaviours and a further 1.5% by perceived environment factors.

· Greater perceived safety from crime was associated with lower BMI, and this association persisted after controlling for socio-demographic factors and obesity-related health behaviours.


Christian, H., Giles-Corti, B., Knuiman, M., Timperio, A., & Foster, S. (2011). The influence of the built environment, social environment and health behaviors on body mass index. results from RESIDE. Preventive medicine, 53(1), 57-60.


Desired security in social housing

Aims and method:

Explores desired value in social housing in the city of Campinas, Brazil. End-users of four multi-family social housing projects were asked to identify aspects of housing design, which are most valued. The research method utilised the stated preferences of approximately 200 respondents. Data was statistically analysed and a general importance index was created for each of the value attributes.

Key findings:

· Residents of typical social housing projects value their security most, followed by access to nature, reduction in utility bills and acoustic privacy.

· Based on previous post occupancy evaluation studies the question of security refers to issues of security in the surrounding urban context, rather than in the home.


Kowaltowski, D. C., & Granja, A. D. (2011). The concept of desired value as a stimulus for change in social housing in Brazil. Habitat international, 35(3), 435-446.