6 Ways Geographical Juxtaposition is essential to Crime Risk Assessment


For good and bad, people and places influence each other.

Geographical juxtaposition refers to how an environment can increase or decrease crime at a nearby location.

 

For Crime Risk Assessment at any site it is important to take into account geographical juxtaposition.

Why?

Geographical juxtaposition between a site and its environment significantly influences:

  • Overall level of crime risks
  • Primary crime types that occur
  • Scale and types of adverse effects from CPTED (dark-side of CPTED ) on both site and environment
  • The scale of crime risk and CPTED feedback effects

 Benefits

Identifying the effects of geographical juxtaposition is essential to creating a Crime Risk Assessment for a site. Reviewing the geographical juxtaposition situation for a site provides the following benefits when creating a Crime Risk Assessment:

  1. It provides a more complete picture of the sources of crime risks
  2. It provides a justifiable means to help identify the most likely types of crimes to occur when crime data for a site is less than excellent
  3. It provides a basis to identify the most useful boundaries for Crime Risk Assessment (these are not always the same as the physical site boundaries)
  4. It enables identification of feedback effects between site and environment that increase or reduce crime risks
  5. It provides guidance to identify which CPTED methods are likely to be most effective
  6. It helps identify whether it is more effective to implement CPTED methods in the environment rather than the site to reduce crime risks in the site.

These benefits are because geographical juxtaposition significantly influences:

  • The overall scale of crime risks for a site
  • The primary crime types for a site
  • The scale and types of adverse effects from CPTED (dark-side of CPTED ) on that site and its environment
  • The scale of crime risk and CPTED feedback effects

Geographical juxtaposition changes crime types

Each kind of location has a characteristic pattern of routine activities and perceived crime opportunities. For example, large public libraries all have similar routine activities of users and similar perceived opportunities for crime. Similarly, residential suburbs have their characteristic routine activities and crime opportunities, as do night time economy areas of pubs, bars and clubs. Each kind of location has a pattern of routine activities and crime opportunities that shape the types of crime most likely to occur there, and influence the crime nearby.

When two different kinds of location are situated next to each other, the routine activities and perceived crime opportunities of each extend across the boundary. This leads to additional crime types in each that differ from those expected by regarding each location individually. This is due to their geographical juxtaposition. Sometimes, in criminology, this is called the ‘boundary effect’.

Geographical Juxtaposition modifies any adverse outcomes from CPTED

CPTED interventions can produce adverse outcomes as easily as good ones. Adverse outcomes from CPTED include increased crime rates, and adverse health , social, economic and equity outcomes. The incidence of adverse outcomes from CPTED interventions is becoming increasingly visible through the findings of environmental criminology research. Geographic juxtaposition can compound the adverse effects from faulty choice of CPTED methods. Paul Cozens has called this the 'dark-side of CPTED*.

To avoid adverse outcomes from CPTED requires practitioners to think and use crime and related evidence, rather than apply CPTED methods on the basis that they align with the architecture. In fact, mostly adverse outcomes from CPTED result from the uncritical application of CPTED guidelines (see Cozens, Paul, 2016, Think Crime! Quinns Rocks: Praxis Education).

Example: Increased crime due to mixed-use planning as a CPTED strategy

Mixed-use planning typically refers to when residential accommodation is mixed with commercial and/or light industrial land uses.

Mixed-use planning has been assumed without evidence to be always beneficial in CPTED terms. Environmental criminology research indicates, however, that in mixed-use planning increased crime almost always happens. The failure of the assumptions about mixed-use planning seems to be in overlooking the crime risk situation for residents.

  • For residents in mixed-used areas, crime rates are typically increased compared to similar residences located in areas that are solely residential.
  • In contrast, crime rates for the commercial and light industrial businesses in mixed-use areas are typically reduced.

A combination of over-confidence in CPTED applied in a cookie-cutter manner , lack of attention to evidence, and focusing on business crime seems to be the problem.

Geographical juxtaposition provides an explanation of why mixed-use areas have increased crime for residents and reduced crime for businesses

The increased crime rates and crime costs for residents in mixed-use areas result from their geographical juxtaposition with the higher crime environment of the commercial/light industrial parts of the mixed-use areas.

Similarly, the reduced crime rates of the commercial/light industrial parts of the mixed-use areas are due to the geographical juxtaposition of the lower crime residential environment.

In effect, the increased crime levels and crime costs for residents are what ‘pay for’ the reduced crime levels for businesses.

To equitably address the increased crime for residents in mixed-use environments requires additional CPTED crime prevention treatment over and above normal for those in the residential accommodation.

Whether this is more or less effort and cost than additional crime prevention for businesses in business-only areas remains unclear to date.

Geographical juxtaposition and Feedback Effects in crime risks and CPTED

Reviewing the geographical juxtaposition situation in regard to a site and its environment can reveal feedback effects that can significantly increase or reduce crime for both the site and its environment.

The geographical juxtaposition of the site and its environment in terms of crime risk factors and CPTED methods can result in positive or negative feedback. This feedback can in turn significantly increase or decrease crime rates over time.

 

 

Positive crime risk feedback leads to increased crime rates over time. It occurs when criminogenic factors (crime risks) from the environment increases the crime rates and risk factors at the site, which in turn increase crime and crime risks in the environment, which then affect the site crime risks..

Similarly, positive feedback of successful CPTED can lead to decreased crime rates over time. This is occurs when reductions in crime from the site CPTED also reduces the crime motivations in the nearby environment, which in turn help reduce crime risks on the site, etc...

Negative crime risk feedback tends to lead to stabilisation of crime rates. It occurs when criminogenic factors (crime risks) from the environment increase the crime rates and risk factors at the site, but at the same time the characteristics of the site are opposite and tend to reduce crime and crime risk factors in the environment - or vice versa. This is a common phenomenon and explains why crime rates tend to remain steady over time.

Negative feedback involving CPTED between site and environment works similarly. The result is outcomes that are less than what would be expected. In this situation, increased CPTED resources will need to be committed to achieve the intended outcomes.

Where crime risk feedback effects are found, they can be addressed by targeted CPTED methods in the environment as well as the site.

Take Aways

Essential uses of geographical juxtaposition analyses in Crime Risk Assessments include:

  1. Better assessment of the scale of crime risks
  2. Better assessment of the primary crime types for the site
  3. Clarity about most useful boundaries for Crime Risk Assessment (these are not always the same as the physical site boundaries)
  4. Identification of feedback effects between site and environment that increase or reduce crime risks and the effectiveness of CPTED interventions
  5. Guidance to identify which CPTED methods are likely to be most effective
  6. Clarity about whether it is more effective to implement CPTED methods in the environment rather than the site to reduce crime risks in the site.

Conclusions

For those interested, more detail on using geographical juxtaposition in CPTED is available in our CPTED training at https://designoutcrime.org or contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +61 (0)434 975 848

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*Cozens, Paul. (2016. Think Crime! : Using Evidence, Theory and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) for Planning Safer Cities (2nd Edn). Quinns Rocks: Praxis Education.


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