• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Crime Rate and Land Use Relationship

LauraBee

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
What do you think about crime rates and land use relationship? Do you think there is more crime in dense and urbanized sites or it does not matter? I am doing a research on this topic. Thank you for your time.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,917
Points
36
I can't cite any empirical evidence off-hand, but I dont' buy the density=crime argument. There are too many other variables at play to pin a higher crime rate on density alone.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
13,905
Points
57
You can't look simply at raw numbers of crimes in dense places as opposed to less dense places.

You need to weight the number of the crimes per x number of population.

I agree with tranplanner. Density is a very poor indicator of crime levels. In my experience, crime in any locality is more a function of the people than the built environment

concentration of poverty is a much better crime indicator
 

Doitnow

Cyburbian
Messages
496
Points
16
Excellent topic for study.
One of my favourites when it comes to researching Planning Issues.
SInce most studies and findings will be emperical, it may be difficult to pinpoint the relation for future projections.
What can be immensely useful is Mapping of crimes by:
-Location of crime
-Type of crime
-Time of crime
and
Overlaying this with the
-Land Use map of that area/zone may show some interesting results.( with the circulation network)

Density may actually not be related directly to crime. Criminals may live in dense areas because of the poverty and commit the crime in affluent and low density areas.
(OF course when you say that density is a factor in your study you should clarify whether its low density or high density)

An interesting study I was part of in 1999-2000 was to study the Northern Indian city of Chandigarh( designed by the well known Le Corbusier).
I observed that the city had very little activity after eight in the evening. Most houses on the main roads were designed in a manner that they faced each other on the inner street and the rear side faced the main roads thus making the road front unlit and without activity. This made the roads very unsafe and there was this perception of risk. Since the roads were deserted, no body went on them thus making these roads even more deserted. Its become so vicious that unless some activity happens in these areas, roads will always be risky areas.
Work centres in this city are so huge and spread out that in the night these places look haunted and loom large for any human to think of venturing into them. ( there was no concept of what I call out here as 'Morning Use and Evening Use')
Large Industrial Areas, Warehouses, Dockyards may come up with different trends.

If your crime maps can have the location of poor peoples housing or some other economic aspect as a theme you want to study and if you can have data to work on, then I'm sure you will be able to find some correlation.
Do let us know how you proceed and what results you get. :)

PS:
There are cyburbians with qualifications in this subject. You can expect some direct responses from them.
 

cololi

Cyburbian
Messages
1,185
Points
22
For the most part, I agree with what has already been said. The biggest thing that I have found is that crime rate is related to the amount of "ownership" a neighborhood takes. It is hard to quantify the ownership of a neighborhood, but neighborhoods where the residentstake ownership of their neighborhood tend to have similar characteristics: well maintained homes and yards, quality infrastructure, qualtiy streetscape, and a high level of neighbor interaction.

However, there are certainly land uses that by their very nature increase the number of police calls (check cashing establishments are a biggie, so are pawn shops) and as a result increase the amount of crime. If you put a number of uses that seem to attract criminals in relative close proximity, you will increase the crime in the area. Also, certain land use categories produce certain types of crimes. In the city I work for, domestic disputes are almost unheard of in commercial areas (with the exception being Home Depot. Who hasn't argued w/ their spouse/significant other in the paint aisle at Home Depot?), while they are very high in residential areas.
 

JNL

Cyburbian
Messages
2,449
Points
25
You might want to look at Social Disorganization Theory (if you haven't already) which was based on research in Chicago in the 30s that related different rates of juvenile delinquency to distance from the city centre. It lost popularity I think because as the others have pointed out, it is not a direct relationship but instead relates indirectly, to factors such as population and opportunities.

You might also be interested in Routine Activity Theory which talks about 3 things that happen for a crime to occur: a suitable target is available; there is the lack of a suitable guardian to prevent the crime from happening; and a likely and motivated offender is present. While this does not relate directly to land use, the link can be made that certain crimes are more likely in certain areas.

You will get lots of information on these theories if you google them.

Another thing that you might want to think about is that problems (e.g. crime) may occur when certain types of land use that are adjacent may create opportunities for crime. But common sense tells us that, which is why you won't see too many schools next to pubs.

Hope this helps :)
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
JNL said:
Another thing that you might want to think about is that problems (e.g. crime) may occur when certain types of land use that are adjacent may create opportunities for crime. But common sense tells us that, which is why you won't see too many schools next to pubs.

Hope this helps :)
My catholic grade school was across the corner from a tavern. I went there during lunch to get kiddie cocktails between 5th-8th grade :)

My high school is about 1 block from a tavern. I never visited that one.

It seems to me that the bigger cause of crime is not taverns, but liquor stores. I've seen areas decline much more rapidly around a liquor store than I have around a bar.
 

Doitnow

Cyburbian
Messages
496
Points
16
Depends on what you call as Crime.
For example, I happened to spend a few days in small town in the southern part of teh state I live in which depends heavily on the Railway Loco Shed and allied activities. Mostly inhabited by railway engine drivers, mechanics and operators this town's single commercial street saw heavy activity after the work hours. Totally full of pedestrians and with small shops selling locally brewed liqour and also the branded liqour and small tavern like establishments, the town had a very active evening life. But unfortunately most, families had problems of wife beating and also many cases of bigamy( multiple liaisons). All this affected the children and that was inturn reflected in the low attendance in local schools and higher drop out rates.
This way overall the small town was in a total mess.
This was a typical socio-economic problem I saw which existed but couldn't figure out whether the liqour was the problem or it was a vent for the frustrated workers.
There wasn't any visible crime( apart from petty thefts) but the overall impact on the society was tremendously negative.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
Doitnow!! said:
This way overall the small town was in a total mess.
This was a typical socio-economic problem I saw which existed but couldn't figure out whether the liqour was the problem or it was a vent for the frustrated workers.
There wasn't any visible crime( apart from petty thefts) but the overall impact on the society was tremendously negative.
That I cannot argue with one bit.
 

boilerplater

Cyburbian
Messages
916
Points
21
Empirical Observation

Since you're at the U. of Delaware, you have an interesting example of crime-land use relationships practically in your backyard. Where Rt. 13 goes through upper New Castle County near Newark, the highway is lined with typical crass highway commercial land uses such as convenience stores, gas stations, etc. Beyond that are trailer parks and relatively cheap apartment complexes. Prostitutes troll for johns in the parking lots, and kids will wait for hours for the unwitting traveler who doesn't know the area and leaves his keys in the car. It is not far from major north-south routes. They take the cars up to Philadelphia or the shore on joyrides. Its relatively low density, but it has a reputation of being a high-crime area. A few years ago there was a serial killer preying on prostitutes. There's several gun shops and liquor stores, which to me indicates the presence of a lower class. As much as I dislike the idea of labeling people as "low class", that's the simplest way to define it. In this case I believe it is a situation where social dysfunction is concentrated and potential victims are available.

I heard this from a psychologist who works with troubled teens & kids from that area.
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
Interesting thread.

RE: Le Corbusier. I am Not a fan of the guy. In "Seeing like a state", his approach to city design is pretty soundly trounced as something which creates social problems. Somewhere else, I read that he did not cook so he did not feel homes needed kitchens. Gee, the slums of Rome had no kitchens either. With slum apartment buildings up to 7 stories high and fire the only means to cook, it was not technologically possible to put kitchens (ie fireplaces) in such places.

RE: Tracking crime. The book "The Tipping Point" does several case studies of crime and how it can suddenly jump to epidemic proportions ... or suddenly drop steeply. It covers the case of crime in New York. It covers an epidemic case of venereal disease in some other American city. And several other things which might be of interest. It also addresses factors in the physical environment, psychological factors, and social factors. Excellent book, imo.

As for boiker's observation that liquor stores are more problematic than bars, I would think that is because people do not go to bars just to get drunk. You may find alcoholics at bars but my observation of drinking in public/social situations is that it is a lubricant for social interaction, a means to lower inhibitions a little bit and make it easier for people who spend 40+ hours per week controlling themselves to let their hair down a tad. But people who go to liquor stores may be buying liquor to drink alone. Such behavior is much more likely to be pathological. For more info, check out a book called "The Truth about Addiction and Recovery".
 
Last edited:

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,487
Points
41
I think a generally accepted principal is that you are more likely to be a victim of a crime committed by someone you know than someone you do not know. Spousal abuse, child abuse, and so forth. In a dense residential neighborhood then, it would seem that there would be more statistical likelihood of being a victim of crime than in a sparsely settled area. Just my $0.02.
 

JCDJ

Member
Messages
10
Points
1
?

Gedunker said:
I think a generally accepted principal is that you are more likely to be a victim of a crime committed by someone you know than someone you do not know. Spousal abuse, child abuse, and so forth. In a dense residential neighborhood then, it would seem that there would be more statistical likelihood of being a victim of crime than in a sparsely settled area. Just my $0.02.
What about the crimes that happen between strangers? I'm not sure that knowing more people necessarily makes you more susceptible to crime.

About the liquor contributing to crime, I used to wonder about that as far as my area is concerned. Also, there is another area of my city, that recently illegalized new liquor stores from being established. I can't speak on any affects or hard facts, partly because it's recent, and I'm just a citizen of the city, not in any particular planning profession. However, it does show that a community wanted this ban, maybe others out there do too.

And about RT.13 in Delaware, are you so sure the creation of a "low class" has any affect on the crime rate? I mean the conditions of the area itself sounds like it would cause problems with communities of any income brackets, liquor and gunshops in close proximity. Also, I'd assume because it's a trailor park that lives on the highway, it's relatively far from normal city services.
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
There is as much child neglect in rich neighborhoods, where both parents work all day and try to make up for it by throwing money at the kids, as in slums. Middle-class neighborhoods are the ones where the parents generally have time for the kids and enough stability and other human essentials to have a healthy family life. You find a lot of drug use and other problems of that ilk in wealthy neighborhoods where the kids are not the most important thing in the lives of the typically driven parents. Parents who choose to prioritize giving time to the kids have to make different career choices, different lifestyle choices, etc.

So I would say being "low class" is not purely a matter of lack of money. Money can be made later. But you can't wait until your kid is 20 or 30 and say 'okay, I have time for you now'. Lack of time for your kids while they are young is a debt that can never be repaid. And the cost in human terms shows itself in our crime rate and similar.

And it is not just my 2 cents worth. I can't give you the name of a book but I know it has been studied.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,174
Points
51
Chicken or the Egg?

I think that there is an indirect correlation between crime and land use. I believe that land use influences the amount of social interaction and social perception, and they have a direct correlation with crime. Fact is in neighborhoods where people have a social perception that it is safe, there is an increase in interaction amongst people. This type of interaction is a deterrent for most serious crimes.

BUT, people need to feel safe before they will interact with each other!

What comes first Interaction or the Safe feeling… it is the Chicken or the Egg!
 

boilerplater

Cyburbian
Messages
916
Points
21
To elaborate...

And about RT.13 in Delaware, are you so sure the creation of a "low class" has any affect on the crime rate? I mean the conditions of the area itself sounds like it would cause problems with communities of any income brackets, liquor and gunshops in close proximity. Also, I'd assume because it's a trailor park that lives on the highway, it's relatively far from normal city services.
Yeah, like I said, I'm uncomfortable with the term. Its pejorative. Maybe its more descrptive to speak of concentrations of the "permanent underclass" or the "dysfunctional class". Its perceptions of the criminality of poor people that often keep affordable housing out of communities that can effectively outlaw it, which is a bad thing.

I'd agree w/ Michelle's statement that familial dysfunction is not a monopoly of the poor. As a social worker told me, the rich are just able to hide it better. When a rich kid gets caught with illegal drugs, his family can afford to pay to send him to rehab and get a good lawyer to get him out of jail time. When a kid from the poor inner city gets caught, its off to juvie hall. When I worked with inmates, teaching them landscaping, I was amazed at how many were in there for relatively minor infractions that suburban white guys I knew had done but were lucky enough not to get caught, such as DWI and selling small amounts of weed.

I also do not want to infer any bias towards trailer parks, because I believe mobile and modular homes offer solutions to the affordable housing situation. But I have watched enough episodes of "COPS" to have the typical opinion of trailer trash! ;-)Yes, I admit it!

Corbu's attitude toward the traditional city form was that it was ugly, messy and chaotic. He had no appreciation of how it functioned socially, which Jane Jacobs and others deftly observed. I like the Villa Savoye and the Notre Dame du Haut chapel, but they're out in fields on their own, where they belong!
 

paulster

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
Almolonga, Guatemala

Is there a way drastically to reverse crime reverse in a specific zone or area? I was impressed by a video called "Transformations." In it, the story is told of Almolonga, Guatemala, a town that was once a place of robberies, murders, and crimes (the video also narrates the stories of other towns & cities). At the time of the video's production Almolonga had shut down the local jail, and life had drastically improved for everyone.

Almolonga turned around because one pastor's life was threatened in a violent shooting event, and he got desperate and decided to fight back. As he and his church fasted and prayed, things began to change. He held all-day Saturday prayer meetings, etc. Today Almolonga is a prosperous mountain town that is forever changed because one man became desperate for change in the hearts of men and women.

Today the USA has one of the highest jailing rates per citizen in the world. It is time to change something so that we can truly enjoy our freedom!

Force is only the last resort. Crime prevention in criminals should be targeted first at personal transformation and self control, then social control by society, and if that fails, then we should use physical force. If men control themselves, we do not need jails and prisons.

Why not start by teaching law and morality in the schools so that we do not have to teach it in the prisons?
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
paulster said:
Is there a way drastically to reverse crime reverse in a specific zone or area?
Yes. As I said earlier in this thread, the book 'The Tipping Point' has case studies of exactly that.

Force is only the last resort. Crime prevention in criminals should be targeted first at personal transformation and self control, then social control by society, and if that fails, then we should use physical force. If men control themselves, we do not need jails and prisons.

Why not start by teaching law and morality in the schools so that we do not have to teach it in the prisons?
Although you basically have the right idea, I would note that "criminals" are human beings first. You cannot eradicate crime if you have already decided "They" are "criminals". "They" cannot stop being criminals until they and others see themselves first and foremost as human beings. When human beings are given the choice and the means to exercise self-control, they choose it surprisingly often. And teaching law and morality is not really the means to get there. Law and morality are still about external forces controlling people. As long as your mindset revolves around cramming the rules down the throats of "THOSE people" (the ones you think are dangerous, "bad", etc -- as if other people do not have the same potential for doing harm) you can count on a lack of cooperation. You might find the book "Riches for The Poor" enlightening on this very topic. In short, when you treat people with respect and give them personal power, they stop being...poor, criminals, outcasts, ______ (fill in the blank).
 

DennisMaPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
197
Points
7
Not going to add anything too theoretical, however we are arguing for our upzoning to create a village center as a means of reducing crime in a marginal area. The current area is an older village center, mostly single use retail due to current zoning restrictions on mixed use. The old story that at 5 pm the sidewalks are rolled up and put away. The parking areas are then taken over late at night by drug dealers, etc. We are hoping that a more 24 hour population in the neighborhood will make the area feel safer.
 

Glasshouse

Cyburbian
Messages
120
Points
6
It works out to simple math.

P/C*2=NL

Population (P) per sq mile divided by number of crackheads (C) multiplied by 2 = a place Not to Live (NL) :-c

Bob
 
Messages
148
Points
6
Doitnow!! said:
What can be immensely useful is Mapping of crimes by:
-Location of crime
-Type of crime
-Time of crime
I do a wee bit of "gutter geography" from time to time - here's an example of a map I did some time ago for your information. It was fun to do and I met quite a few "interesting" people - only got chased out of one alley by a john enjoying himself with a prostitute in a dumpster - heard a strange thumping noise and opened the lid to investigate, next thing I know I'm running down the street laughing while a guy with no pants and a knife chases after me, with a naked hooker running after him screaming for her money. Ahh, good times.

Gutter Geography Map - Montreal
 
Messages
148
Points
6
My thesis bibliography

LauraBee said:
What do you think about crime rates and land use relationship? Do you think there is more crime in dense and urbanized sites or it does not matter? I am doing a research on this topic. Thank you for your time.
Laurabee,

I did my Masters thesis last year on defensible space relating to the physical design of inner-city residential alleys, and found some interesting correlations between site surveillance and degree of maintenace, and marginal use. I evaluated alley geometrics, landuse, activity patterns, and many other physical variables. The greater degree of oversight, the less prospect there was of litter and other debris, and of marginal activity (drugs, prostitution, etc.) Unfortunately I was unable to acquire detailed geographic police call locations to input into my GIS, so I relied on physical evidence and measurements to note perceptual hot spots. Here's an abridged selection of my bibliography that may be of use to you, and a link to my thesis

Bibliography

Bentley, I., Alcock, A., Murrian, P., McGlynn, S., & Smith, G. (1985). Responsive Environments: A Manual for Designers. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Box, S., Hale, C., & Andrews, G. (1988). “Explaining Fear of Crime.” British Journal of Criminology. 28(3), 340-356.

Brown, B. B., & Cropper, V. L. (2001). “New Urban and Standard Suburban Subdivisions: Evaluating Psychological and Social Goals.” Journal of the American Planning Association. 67(4), 402-419.

Edmonton Planning and Development. (1995). Design Guide for a Safer City. City of Edmonton.

Fisher, B., & Nasar, J. L. (1992). “Fear of crime in relation to three exterior site features.” Environment and Behavior. 24(1), 35-65.

Friedmann, A., Zimring, C., & Zube, E. (1978). Environmental Design Evaluation. New York: Plenum.

Gendill, J. (1990). “Alleys: Neglected Elements of the Central Business District.” ITE Journal. 60(5), 23-26.

Herzog, T. R., & Gale, T. A. (1996). “Preference for Urban Buildings as a Function of Age and Nature Context.” Environment and Behavior. 28(1), 44-72.

Herzog, T. R., & Miller, E. J. (1998). “The Role of Mystery in Perceived Danger and Environmental Preference.” Environment and Behavior. 30(4), 429-449.

Herzog, T. R., & Shier, R. L. (2000). “Complexity, Age, and Building Preference.” Environment and Behavior. 32(4), 557-575.

Herzog, T. R., & Barnes, G. J. (1999). “Tranquility and Preference Revisited.” Journal of Environmental Psychology. 19(2), 171-181.

Herzog, T. R., & Chernick, K. K. (2000). “Tranquility and Danger in Urban and Natural Settings.” Journal of Environmental Psychology. 20(1), 29-39.

Herzog, T. R., & Flynn-Smith, J. A. (2001). “Preference and Perceived Danger as a Function of the Perceived Curvature, Length, and Width of Urban Alleys.” Environment and Behavior. 33(5), 653-666.

Kuo, F. E., Bacaicoa, M., & Sullivan, W. C. (1998). “Transforming Inner-City Landscapes: Trees, Sense of Safety, and Preference.” Environment and Behavior. 30(1), 28-59.

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.

Nasar, J. L., & Fisher, B. (1993). “Hot-Spots of Fear and Crime: A Multi-method Investigation.” Journal of Environmental Psychology. 13(3), 187-206.

Nasar, J. L., Fisher, B., & Grannis, M. (1993). “Proximate Physical Cues to Fear of Crime.” Landscape and Urban Planning. 26(1-4), 161-178.

Nasar, J. L., & Jones, K. M. (1997). “Landscapes of Fear and Stress.” Environment and Behavior. 29(3), 291-323.

Newman, O. (1972). Defensible Space: Crime Prevention Through Urban Design. New York: MacMillan.

Sampson, R. J., & Raudenbush, S. W. (1999). “Systematic Social Observation of Public Spaces: A New Look at Disorder in Urban Neighborhoods.” American Journal of Sociology. 105(3), 603-651.

Tijerino, R. (1998). “Civil Spaces: A Critical Perspective of Defensible Space.” Journal of Architectural and Planning Research. 15(4), 321-337.

Voelker, W. (1982). “Behind the False Fronts: Alleys Come Out of Hiding.” Landscape Architecture, 72(6), 71-73.

Zeisel, J. (1984). Inquiry by Design: Tools for Environment-Behavior Research. Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press.
 
Top