Relation between Offenses and Urban Spaces

By Dr. Solmaz Rezaei
Head of research and consulting department

As a place of emergence and occurrence of many human civilization achievements, cities have experienced significant growth in terms of population and scope in recent decades. This growth has, in many cases, been accompanied by imbalances and the consideration of sustainability components in the expansion of urban spaces and environments, which has led to insecurity and occurrence of many urban crimes. Security is considered as one of the most important mental needs of individuals, so that in the classification of the Maslow needs after the physiological needs, security is in the second place. The need for this is significantly related to the environmental characteristics of cities. One of the factors affecting the sense of security of citizens is urban spaces, so that the nature and extent of crime and urban crime and its relation to the characteristics of these spaces have been the subject of many studies in the field of urban sciences. According to Belgian sociologist Quetelet, the crimes committed in a society can be explained by a mathematical function that depends on economic, social, spatial and temporal variables. Therefore, urban spaces and environmental quality can play a decisive role in preventing crime. So in urban planning, items such as urban design, metro stations, parks, urban lighting, and low-traffic routes, and so on, should be handled with the concept of reducing the basis for crime occurrence. In other words, it should prevent the emergence of defenseless urban spaces that are causing motives for delinquency as a result of the physical and social characteristics of the city. A more in-depth study of the distribution of crime in the cities shows that the distribution of these crimes in different urban areas is not accidental and is largely linked to their physical conditions.
In urban planning definitions, a secure urban environment should be attractive and conducive to creating a pleasant image for individuals, have appropriate access for citizens, and a high social capability so that citizens tend to form social relationships in that environment. In this regard, in 2002, a secure space project was raised with four components: productivity, comfort, social relationships and availability as features of a secure urban environment. Studies show that the type of urban environment can affect individual and social attitudes and, consequently, many behaviors. For example, George Kling and James Wilson, in a paper titled broken windows, stated that minor issues such as a broken window unfixed for a long time in an urban environment could induce indifference in citizens and lead to antisocial behaviors in a chaotic model.
One of the factors influencing the creation of a secure environment is monitoring. In addition to using official methods such as the presence of security guards and security forces, it can be created naturally by the type of residential design dominating the public and semi-public spaces. Also, by improving the lighting of passages and urban environments and installing CCTV cameras as mechanical monitoring, the security of urban environments can be increased. In 1972, Newman concluded in his book “Defensible Spaces” that crime rates in socially-isolated environments were high, and sense of solidarity between people in environments with acceptable local controls leads to very low crime rates.
Another factor affecting the level of urban security is the type and amount of spatial activities. In this context, there is a certain limit on the amount of space activities that can lead to a sense of security and reduce the background for criminal behavior, so that few or too many of these activities can significantly reduce environmental security.